How to care for workwear
If you want your clothes to last long, opting for high quality is the first step. But even premium workwear can wear out prematurely unless you take care of it properly. Here are our best care tips for extending the lifespan of your work clothes.
Preparing your garment for washing
The washing instructions on the care label are there for a reason, so be sure to follow them. Use a damp cloth to remove loose dirt before you put your clothes in the washer or give them a quick rinse to prevent the debris from causing damage. Empty rocks, trash and other random objects out of the pockets.
Before putting the clothes in the washer, be sure to close zippers, button up pockets and secure velcro flaps, so they don’t get snagged on other garments or the washing machine. You can also protect the outside of the garment from damage by turning it inside out. Body odours and oils from your skin wash away more easily this way as well.
General washing instructions
Dirt hardens over time which makes your clothes harder to clean the longer you wait, so wash your work clothes and PPE regularly – probably more often than you think. Dirt also makes your clothes wear out faster and may in some cases affect the function and safety of the clothes, for example when it comes to high-vis garments.
Wash your work clothes separately from your personal clothes, since the latter may colour-bleed. Mixing workwear and personal clothes can also cause cross-contamination of germs. Choose a mild, biodegradable detergent that doesn’t contain bleach or other harsh chemicals, since they may damage the garments. Over time, bleach can compromise the flame-retardant properties of the cotton fabrics in flame-protective clothes, making them unsafe.
Never, ever use fabric softener when washing your workwear and PPE. It plugs up the pores of the garment, causing it to lose breathability. Plus, fabric softeners contain flammable components that can build up on fabrics over time and compromise the performance of your flame-retardant clothes.
Extending the life of your workwear
Be careful to choose the right size when you purchase workwear for yourself or your employees, since poor-fitting clothes are likely to get discarded sooner than necessary. Trousers that are too long will also fray when dragged on the ground.
Inspect your workwear and PPE for damages regularly and report defects immediately. Small holes and tears quickly grow bigger unless they are fixed right away, and it is a lot more economical to repair a garment than to replace it with a new one. For certified clothes, use the same material as the original to make sure your garment is still compliant.
Waterproof jackets and trousers need to be re-treated every few months and after being washed in order to maintain their water-repelling properties and breathability. Use either a waterproofing spray or detergent to keep the garments functional.
Replacing your workwear
Even with proper care, you will eventually need to replace your workwear. It is important to know when the time is right, especially with PPE which can become non-compliant and a safety hazard when excessively soiled and/or damaged. If your clothes are damaged beyond repair or have permanent stains that will not come out when you wash them, they are no longer safe and will need to be discarded. Ask your employer how to discard the clothes properly and in accordance with environmental regulations.
From replace to repair
A pair of pants that are missing a button. A jacket with a flawed zipper. A worn-down knee that needs a patch. The workers at Fristads’ return centre carefully examine each defective product claim to determine if the garments can be repaired instead of replaced.
In 2019, as many as 3 out of 10 garments were repaired and returned to the customer, 775 zippers and 169 buttons in total. In some cases, we provide the customers with materials instead, so that they can repair the garments themselves. To keep your certified garments compliant, it is important to repair them with the same material as the original.
Only 0.1% of the clothes sold at Fristads were returned as defective product claims in 2019, which says a lot about our commitment to quality. By repairing what little is returned, we are effectively extending the lifespan of the individual garment and cutting overall consumption in the process. Eventually, we would like to close the loop of clothing manufacturing completely, by taking care of the garments after they have reached the end of their lives. We are not there yet, but we are working on it .