Washing instructions for fire-retardant clothing

Written by renee miller | 13/05/2017
Washing instructions for fire-retardant clothing
Firefighters' uniforms are made with fire-retardent fabric so that they don't ignite. (firefighter and flames 2 image by Tino Hemmann from Fotolia.com)

Fire-retardent or flame-resistant clothing is treated with chemicals that make the fabric resistant to igniting or able to extinguish itself if exposed to fire or sparks. It is typically worn by people who come in contact with fire in their jobs. Many manufacturers of children's clothing use this type of fabric as well. To ensure their flame-resistant qualities aren't lost, these types of fabrics should be washed carefully and according to the manufacturers's instructions.

Washing instructions

Pretreat stains if needed with any stain removal product but don't use bleach of any kind. This includes laundry detergent combined with bleach or those containing hydrogen peroxide. Bleach can destroy the fire resistant polymer that is used to treat the fabrics. According to Sullivan's Uniforms, laundry detergent containing perborate or other colour safe bleach alternatives will not harm the flame resistance of the fabric.

Check labels on your fire resistant clothing for any specific washing instructions by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers recommend that certain fabrics be washed alone or at different temperatures. If this is the case, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Washing instructions for fire-retardant clothing
Flame-resistant fabrics can be washed in the normal wash cycle. (laundry day image by robert mobley from Fotolia.com)

Set wash cycle to normal or cotton. Water temperature should be 48.9 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit) or less, as hot water may cause shrinkage. However, it may be needed to remove stains. Sullivan's Uniforms recommends that stains are removed as soon as possible as they can act as fuel to a fire, impairing the fabric's fire-resistant qualities.

Place the clothes in the machine inside out and add washing powder. It is important to remember that fire-resistant clothing should not be washed with any soap containing animal fats as this can impair the fire-resistant properties in the fabric and act as fuel for sparks and flames.

Add other laundry if you wish. Fire-resistant clothing can be washed with "regular" fabrics as long as they aren't stained with materials you wouldn't usually wash with your other laundry.

Wait for wash cycle to finish and remove from the machine to dry.

Drying instructions

Washing instructions for fire-retardant clothing
Dry flame-resistant fabrics on the proper cycle which is clearly marked on your dryer. (laundry dial image by Sirena Designs from Fotolia.com)

Place clothing in the dryer and add fabric softener sheet if desired. Tumble dry on permanent press cycle with cool down. This cycle should be clearly shown on your dryer cycle selection.

Check the dryer part way through the drying cycle. It's important to avoid over drying because clothes may shrink which can impair flame-resistant properties. Flame resistant fabric doesn't hold a lot of moisture so it should dry in a short time.

Iron if needed with a warm iron using the permanent press setting.


Do not use starch, liquid fabric softener or other laundry additives. These may coat the polymer fibre used in treating the fabric and that will mask the fire-resistant performance. Additives and softeners can also act as fuel. Automotive Workwear warns that it is important that all grease, oily stains and other contaminants are removed from flame-resistant fabrics because they can burn even when on flame-resistant fabrics. If they ignite this can overwhelm or damage the flame-resistant properties of the fabric. If you cannot remove the stains, professional cleaning may be needed. Do not line dry in direct sunlight.

Things you need

  • Stain remover
  • Washing powder
  • Softener sheets

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