/13 September 2012
Working in the heath or care sectors means your uniform is going to be your constant companion. It makes sense then to take care of it. Not only will it last longer but you’ll look more professional. Here’s our advice on how to keep it looking its best.
Most likely you’ll have at least 2 or possibly 3 uniforms so you’ll always have a spare whilst some are being washed or laundered. The key thing is to make caring for your uniform part of your weekly routine. It won’t take long to get used to it and will save you being caught out by stains or creases.
The best routine for your uniform will depend on the fabric. You should follow the washing instructions included on the label. But when in doubt the following applies.
Cotton – Cottons crease badly when washed. A cold machine wash or warm hand wash is best but cotton will tolerate high temperatures for stain and bacteria removal. If you have an anti-crease function on your washing machine use that. Dark colours are prone to ‘bleeding’ at higher temperatures so avoid washing dark cottons in hot water with lighter garments. Use a steam iron for ironing. Cottons may fade if ironed at extremely hot temperatures.
Polyester –Virtually crease free and dries more quickly. Avoid washing in high temperatures. 40 degrees or less is recommended. Dark colours should bleed less than pure cottons when exposed to higher temperatures but may wear the fabric faster. Use a warm but not hot iron to remove any creases. Not as hard wearing as cotton or polycotton.
Polycotton – Offers the best of both worlds. The right polycotton blends (more cotton than polyester) don’t crease as much as cotton and doesn’t shrink either. Can retain its shape well if washed in warm or hot water and some blends are tough enough to withstand an industrial laundry! Use a warm iron for removing any creases.
Wool – Never machine wash. Ideally get wool items professional dry cleaned. If the label gives no instruction you can try hand washing in cold water. Wool doesn’t respond well to ironing. Try indirect ironing by placing a tea towel between the garment and the iron.
Leather – Mud and dirt can be brushed off when dry. Before polishing and buffing wipe over with a just-damp cloth. Don’t wet the leather or expose it to high temperatures near radiators and open fires.
Separate dark and light colours. New uniforms in particular bleed colour. You can reduce the amount of bleeding by rinsing in warm water until the water runs clear. If light garments get stained due to colour leakage, washing again in warm water should get rid of the stains.
Avoid fabric conditioners as over a period of time they prevent the removal of stains and dirt. Colour brighteners or whiteners don’t have this effect and can be used to keep your uniform looking smarter for longer.
Machine washing is tough on fabric. If you must use a machine, put light and dark colours in separate loads and remove clothes as soon as the cycle is finished or clothes will crease badly or could bleed.
Some people suggest washing caps and hats in a dish washer as the cleaning process is more gentle than a washing machine. But avoid using machines that don’t have an independent water temperature control. The other alternative is to use a shower head.
Let your uniform hang dry outside for best results, but remove excess water from the fabric first. Alternatively place on a coat hanger and hang on a coat hook.
Did you know you can get a tax rebate if you clean it yourself!