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Hi-Vis Care Guide: How to Wash and Maintain High Visibility Workwear

High visibility, or hi-vis, clothing is essential for a wide range of different workers, such as those working in construction, transportation, and many other maintenance or labour jobs. Made from highly reflective and luminous materials, hi-vis workwear is considered to be personal protective equipment and enables the wearer to be highly visible which is crucial on-site.

Purchasing high quality hi-vis clothing is an investment, so you need to take care of your workwear. Here's our ultimate care guide to washing and maintaining your hi-vis workwear.

JBs Hi Vis Short Sleeve Arm Panel Polo - Tuff-As Hi Vis Workwear

Why you should care for your hi-vis workwear

As workwear is created to endure harsh conditions and made to last, you may be thinking why would you need to take care of your hi-vis items (hi-vis vest, hi-vis jumper)? Surely they are able to withstand anything! However, much like any of your other clothing, hi-vis workwear requires basic maintenance and care in order to last.

Safety reasons

The major reason for wearing hi-vis clothing is to increase your visibility on-site. If the fluorescent and retroreflective material is dirty or damaged, you may find your hi-vis workwear is less eye-catching and visible which can put you at risk.

Take care of your investment

If you are purchasing high quality workwear, you’ll find it won’t be cheap. Some cheaper hi-vis clothing is usually designed to be worn once before being disposed of. If you’ve purchased a quality piece, you’ll want to take care of your hi-vis to get the best value from it and extend its lifespan.

Clean and hygienic

When at work, you want to look and feel your best! Maintaining professionalism extends to how you present yourself so you’ll want to ensure that your workwear is clean and in good condition. Hi-vis workwear tends to be worn in extreme conditions, from harsh sun to fierce rain. It doesn’t take long for your clothing to become wet and dirty as you break a sweat during a long day on the job. Wearing smelly or dirty hi-vis clothing is more than just unpleasant, it’s not hygienic nor is it great for your health or safety.

How often should you wash hi-vis clothing?

When it comes to hi-vis clothing, you don’t want to be sticking it in the washing machine after every single use. While it usually depends on the specific garment’s care instructions, it’s best to ‘spot clean’ any dirty areas as soon as possible. Spot cleaning involves taking a wet sponge or cloth with some mild detergent and dabbing or wiping a dirty area.

For the majority of hi-vis clothing, you should wash once a fortnight. It’s important to keep in mind that everytime you wash your hi-vis, the reflective material will slightly diminish so it’s best to only wash your hi-vis workwear a maximum of 25 times before replacing it.

How should you care for your hi-vis clothing?

Here is how you can take the proper care of your hi-vis items so they last and maintain their quality.

Tradesman wearing Bisley 2 tone cool lightweight drill shirt short sleeve - Tuff-As Workwear

Check the care instructions

The best way to care for your hi-vis clothing is to consult the manufacturer’s instructions. As many brands and items differ in their care requirements, you should check the care tag which is located in the inside of the garment. On this tag, there will be symbols and/or text to inform whether the item can be washed in a washing machine, what detergent to use, and what water temperature is recommended. While it can be easy to forgo these instructions, it’s best to follow the garment recommendations so your hi-vis wear maintains its quality. We usually recommend that you err on the side of caution by always washing your hi-vis items in cold water.

Use the right detergent

Not all washing detergents are created equal! While it goes without saying, never ever use bleach on your hi-vis items. It’s also best to avoid any detergent that is recommended for white clothing or fabric softeners as they tend to contain brightening ingredients which will damage your hi-vis. You’ll want to avoid harsh stain remover products as they can be too abrasive and may also contain bleach. Instead, you should use a mild liquid detergent to wash your hi-vis.

Wash garments inside-out

If you’re putting your hi-vis workwear in the washing machine, it’s best to turn them inside-out before washing. During the spin part of your washing cycle, it’s easy for items to get caught on each other which can cause marks, scratches and other damage. This abrasion isn’t great for the reflective and hi-vis material.

Avoid irons

Unless your care instructions explicitly state to iron your hi-vis workwear, it’s best to avoid any direct heat contact on your hi-vis. Ironing your reflective strips will damage them, even when ironed inside-out. You can use a steamer to smoothen out any wrinkles, but ensure that it is on the lowest setting to avoid any scorching or damage.

Dry properly

Some hi-vis items can be placed in the dryer after washing, however make sure to check the care instructions tag before drying to avoid shrinking or damaging your items. You can also hang your hi-vis clothes on the washing line or a clothes horse, but avoid pegging the material and instead use coat hangers.

Rotate and replace items frequently

It’s best to have a few different hi-vis items so you’ll always have something clean and ready to wear for work. While it can be tempting to hang onto items to avoid spending money, if your hi-vis workwear has marks, rips or any other damage then you will need to replace it as soon as possible.

Not only is it important to replace your workwear to maintain professionalism in the workplace, but also for safety. A workplace accident will cost you significantly more than the price of a new hi-vis workwear item.

You can find our wide range of high quality hi-vis products here.


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