Have you had your flame-protective garments for a long time? Fire-retardant clothing may be durable, but like any clothing, it can fall apart after months and years of use.
Ensure that your fire-retardant (FR) clothing is still capable and valuable by learning how to tell if your FR garments need to be replaced with our helpful guide.
Signs You Should Replace Your FR Garments
FR garments aren’t like regular clothing—once they’ve reached their expiration date, they need immediate replacement. You wouldn’t work with expired or ineffectual tools, so don’t work with ineffective FR clothing!
If you often use FR clothing for protection, we’ll show you how to tell if your FR garments need to be replaced. Here are signs you should replace your FR garments.
Physical damage is the first and most obvious sign that it’s time to move on from your old FR garments. If you wear FR clothing at work or during strenuous activities, you can expose it to lots of wear and tear after many months or years.
FR garments may not sufficiently protect the wearer if they have physical damages like:
- Burn marks
If you wear FR garments often for work, thoroughly inspect the clothing for holes or rips before and after using them to ensure you still have adequate protection.
Since FR garments are so common in workplace environments and settings, many come with characteristics to enhance their utility. Zippers, buttons, and large pockets are popular in many FR garments since they help workers who wear FR clothing get their jobs done.
These elements are handy, but they can also be nuisances if they begin to malfunction or fail altogether. It may seem like a minor problem, but if you notice that the zippers in your FR garments don’t work anymore or have holes in the pockets, it’s time to switch to new FR clothing. You can mend some minor clothing issues, but you don’t want to trust FR garments that seem to be falling apart!
For FR clothing, the fit is essential to maintain the safety it provides the wearer. If FR garments are too loose or tight, they won’t be as capable of protecting the wearer’s skin from flames and heat.
But the human body and FR garments can change over months and years. If you find that your FR garments aren’t as comfortable a fit as they used to be—whether they’re too big or too tight—you’ll want to replace them with clothing that better fits your body.
A stain on your work FR garments may not seem like a big deal—you can’t expect clothing to stay squeaky clean forever. While many colors are harmless, if your FR garments accumulate too many stains from various contaminants, that could compromise your safety.
Stains aren’t just cosmetic blemishes but can weaken the flame-resistant properties of the garments. If you expose them to too much grease, oils, or other staining liquids, they may become less effective in the presence of fire. Ideally, you should wear clean and stain-free FR clothing, but if your garments have stains covering them, it’s better to start over with new clothing.
How Long Should FR Garments Last?
Another simple way to tell if you should replace your FR clothing is to consider how long you’ve had it. FR garments have an expiration date, but many factors determine how quickly that date approaches, from the blend of materials (synthetic vs. cotton) to how often you wear them.
When you purchase FR clothing or issue garments for work, they should come with a manufacturer’s guide that includes the typical lifespan of the garments. Most cotton FR clothing lasts about 30 months, while synthetic blends typically last longer. They may function without issues for up to four years with proper care.
Tips for Extending the Lifespan of Your FR Clothing
If you bought and paid for the FR clothing yourself, you’ll want to do everything possible to make it last. Let us help with a few tips for extending the lifespan of your FR garments.
FR clothing is like anything else; it’ll last longer if you clean it correctly. Many workplaces that rent FR uniforms for workers let a third party take care of the laundry. But if you own the FR clothing yourself, you’ll have to familiarize yourself with proper cleaning and caring of the garments.
Each FR garment is different, but the vital thing to remember is that these aren’t like regular clothes you can throw in the wash with the rest of the laundry. They can stain and harm your other clothes while ruining the FR garments. The FR clothing should come with detailed washing instructions from the manufacturer, so follow those as closely as possible to ensure your clothing is clean and lasts as long as possible.
As we mentioned earlier, stains aren’t just cosmetic nuisances but can pose a danger to FR clothing wearers. FR garments have a better chance of lasting past their expected lifespan if they’re free of stains.
Some home stain-removing products anyone can find at a store are successful on FR clothing. However, you should never use bleach on FR garments. Bleach can significantly damage the flame-resistant qualities of the clothing. The odds are that if it’s a deep and tough stain to get out, it’s probably better to replace the FR garment.
FR clothing is like regular clothing. If you take good care of it, it’ll last longer. If you take your FR clothing home with you, make sure that you store it in a dry, well-ventilated, and climate-controlled area.
FR garments are durable, but you don’t want to toss them on the floor when not using them. Keep them dry and stored correctly to preserve the fabric for as long as possible.
Whether you rent an FR uniform or own FR clothing, you should have spares and backups you can wear in a rotation with others. The less wear and tear on the FR garments, the better chance of them lasting longer.
It may cost more money to invest in multiple FR garment outfits. However, you’ll be getting better value in the long run, as it’ll mean the clothing lasts longer than if you were to repeatedly wear the same FR garments.
Patch Up When Needed
If you consider yourself handy with a needle and thread, you can always put those skills to use to patch up your FR garments when rips or holes appear. But if you’re doing your repairs on FR garments, you’ll want to contact the manufacturer or do some research on the type of fabric they use so that you can be consistent with the original clothing.
Pro-Tip: If you’re sewing seams in FR clothing, always use FR thread over regular thread, just like the original garments.
You don’t want to compromise the protection of the FR garments, so always follow the manufacturer’s garment repairs and adjustments guidelines.