Garment Care

Workwear can be a high-priced investment, especially if you don’t take care of it. In fact, proper care will not only save you financially but will reduce the time and frustration involved with replacing poorly kept workwear. Fortunately, by following the care tips below, you can prolong the life of your workwear and reduce the need to replace it as often as you might.

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The following guide will aid you in understanding the instructions on the care label of your garment. We encourage you to check the care labels on your garments and other fabric products and follow the instructions given for washing, drying and ironing. Doing so will prolong the life and quality of your garment.

What Is Washing

Washing is a combination of factors i.e. temperature, detergents, mechanical action and time.

Temperature

The suggested washing temperatures range from 30–95°C. Temperatures during the bleaching cycle, if any, should be set in accordance with the bleaching agent used either chlorine or peroxy- based so that chemical damage is minimised.

Detergents

Detergents are specially formulated chemicals designed to assist the removal of soiling from the different fibre types. We would recommend the use of a blend of ionic and non-ionic detergents. Soap-based products should not be used to avoid the formation of scums which cause greying of the garments.

When selecting a detergent to be used when washing white garments an optical brightening agent can be used to enhance the whiteness if required. Either a chlorine or oxygen type bleaching agents can also be used to remove stains however these must be completely removed from the garments (especially chlorine) before the garments are dried to avoid yellowing.

In the case of coloured garments, the use of optical brightening agents is not necessary and if used can give the impression of colour loss because of their masking effect. The use of bleaching agents should also be avoided except in exceptional cases as they can affect the colour and have the potential to damage the fabric if not fully removed during rinsing

Mechanical Action

Mechanical action is produced by the rotation of the wash cage making the garments cascade into the washing liquor; the level of water should be sufficient to cushion the impact of the garments. This action dislodges the insoluble particles and ensures that the chemicals are dispersed throughout the wash load.

The wash load should be roughly 2/3 of the machine loading to allow for sufficient mechanical action and to avoid the chance of creasing.

Delicate fabrics should not be washed with your workwear since workwear fabrics are made from heavy weighted fabric that tend to be more abrasive fabrics that can cause your delicate clothing damaged.

Time

Sufficient time is needed to allow the chemical and mechanical action to work on the soiling but not too much so that damage can occur with no improvement in the cleansing. To avoid setting creases (thermal shock) when the wash load is being cooled down from temperatures of 50-55°C the rate of cooldown should not exceed 3 -4°C per minute.

Drying

Garments can be dried or finished by tumble drier or tunnel finisher. The tumble-drying cycle should include a cool down period so that creasing is avoided. A fabric surface temperature of 130-140°C is adequate for good appearance. Bone dry garments must not be tunnel finished as this can cause problems such as shrinkage and scorching.

Care and Repair

We would advise that any small issues with your workwear should be repaired immediately. It will be far more cost effective to fix a little tear by sewing a couple of stitches than replacing the entire garment because the seam ended up torn.

Spots and stains should be treated right away. A spot remover can be used for washable fabrics, depending on the type of fabric and stain. However, the use of a stain-remover can also cause garments to become dull. Hence, it is better to take stained clothing to a dry cleaner.

Bobbling And Pilling

Bobbling, and linting are common terms for pilling. They refer to the small parts of the fabric that stick to sheets, towels, socks and other items of clothing. Pilling is caused by damaged fibres that have separated from the rest of the fibres.

Natural fibres like cotton, linen, or wool may also be subject to pilling but this is less common since natural fibres don’t tend to stick like manmade fibres and are therefore commonly washed away.

The cause of pilling is abrasion. Fibres are usually damaged by friction and abrasion this is caused by either wear and tear, or whilst being washed.

How To Avoid Bobbling And Pilling

  • Wash affected garments inside out.
  • Buy better quality garments, the better the quality of the fibres the less pilling.
  • Use a fabric softener in the wash to lubricate the fibres.
  • Spray starch or fabric finish on collars and cuffs whilst ironing.
  • Don’t tumble dry instead line dry and light iron.

Removing Bobbling And Pilling

  • Bobbling can be removed by brushing, cutting or picking bobbles from the fabric.
  • Use sticky tape to remove less entrenched pilling if not covering too wide an area.

Shrinkage

All fabric has a common feature, they shrink in wet processing. Shrinkage is defined as a change in the dimensions of a fabric or garment. The change may be negative (losing size from original measurements) or positive (growth in measurement) in the length, width, or thickness of the fabric or garment. While the thickness of a fabric can change over the course of the life of a garment, it does not usually cause a problem with the fit of a garment.

Shrinkage is usually minimal, less than three percent in most cases. However, shrinkage can cause the garments to pucker, torque (pull or hang of fabric), and the stitching to distortion.

The amount that clothes stretch or shrink depends upon the fabric’s fibre content, the type of weave used, and the construction methods of the garment.

Commercial fabric, such as that used by Wearwell, is made from materials that are woven or knitted together by a machine. This means unlike natural fabrics like cotton, wool and linen, which are more prone to shrinkage our blends of synthetic and natural fibres are more stable since these fabrics are heat set (which can’t be done to natural fibres) during processing to stabilize the weave or knit.

Colour Loss

Over time your workwear will fade. This is natural, however, what you might not realise is that by cleaning your workwear excessively you are in fact accelerating this process. Whilst this won’t be convenient for all industries, reducing the amount that you wash your workwear can help protect the colour from fading. If your clothes look clean and smell fresh after you have taken them off, hang them and wear them again.

What Is Colour Loss

Colour loss occurs when two elements come together during washing:  hot water and aggressive agitation cycles.

When water temperatures reach in excess of 60°c, colour loss begins to become a risk.

Placing your workwear in very hot water alone may not trigger a colour loss, however, when the fabric is agitated aggressively in very hot water, a colour loss will become a risk.  Conversely, agitating a garment in cold water will not stimulate colour loss. Both heat and agitation must be present to put your workwear at risk.

How To Avoid Colour Loss

To mitigate both heat and agitation load your washing machine so that your workwear is suspended in water, rather than packed tightly into the machine. Garments suspended or floating freely in water will experience less abrasion with other garments, reducing the risk of colour loss from abrasion.

After washing, hanging your garments out to dry but do not expose them to heat or agitation. Naturally drying your workwear on a clothes horse or equivalent is the best method to minimize colour loss when drying.  Machine drying will in some cases create fibre loss (these fibres are found on your dryer’s lint tray). By machine drying, you are adding heat and agitation back into the fold which will eventually result in a greater colour loss.