How to Wash Nomex

Written by timothea xi
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How to Wash Nomex
Washing Nomex is not difficult if general guidelines are observed. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

First marketed by DuPont in 1967, Nomex is a trademarked brand of heat-resistant, flame-resistant fibre used to outfit and protect firefighters, first responders, race car drivers and industrial workers. Nonclothing applications include hot-gas filtration and electrical applications.

Nomex comes in its original version and a static-resistant version called Nomex IIIA. Laundry instructions are the same for both types of fabric. No special or unusual detergents are required, but be attentive to Nomex's care and handling during the cleaning process, and wash before wearing.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pretreatment stain solutions
  • Regular washing powder (without bleach)
  • Softener sheets (not liquid)

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  1. 1

    Remove flammable soils or chemicals. You cannot "wash away" Nomex's flame-resistant properties; however, if flammable materials build up on your Nomex apparel, they could burn and act as fuel, negating the FR capability. Remove such build-up and stains with pretreatment agents before laundering.

  2. 2

    Wash separately from other clothes in bleach-free detergent, and sort by colour for best results. You can wash Nomex clothes as you would normal clothes, but keep them away from clothes that lint and pill, and separate your garments so that darker colours do not bleed and discolour lighter-coloured garments. Do not mix with other clothes if soiled with contaminants that you would not otherwise include in the wash.

  3. 3

    Clean Nomex apparel in water of softness of less than 4.0 grains. Avoid using hard water, which will leave mineral deposits on the fabric and undo its flame resistance by serving as fuel should the garment be ignited. Use higher pH detergent products with caution, as they could produce colour loss.

  4. 4

    Launder Nomex garments at temperatures up to 60 degrees C. Higher temperatures remove tougher stains and will not affect Nomex's heat or flame resistance, but they could adversely affect colour. Colour-fastness will not be as strong as in cotton-polyester blends.

  5. 5

    Dry clothes on the "Permanent Press" setting, and make sure the fabric temperature in the basket does not exceed 137 degrees C. Cool down to 37.8 degrees C, and remove immediately from the dryer. The material dries quickly, so do not overdry, as this will accelerate colour fading.

Tips and warnings

  • Expect shrinkage comparable to 65/35 blends.
  • To ensure thorough removal of greasy build-up, dry clean Nomex apparel in perchloroethylene and petroleum solvent, or wash commercially. Doing so will not compromise its flame-resistant qualities, provided that all solvent has been removed from the garment.
  • Do not overload the washer. The clothes should have ample room to agitate properly.
  • Do not use bleach. This will weaken the fabric and precipitate colour loss. Use oxygen bleach instead, if needed.
  • Do not use tallow soap.
  • Do not use starch or liquid fabric softener, which can coat the fibre and counteract its flame-resistant performance while also reducing wickability. If you must, include a single sheet of fabric softener in the dryer.

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