How and When to Wash Your Fire Suit
NO matter dirt, asphalt, drag racing, or monster trucking we all get dirty racing. Sometimes it's dirt and mud or maybe just a little rubber dust and debris, but odor is the one thing that gets us all. Fabric has a duty cycle. This means it's only good for so long. In the early days of fire retardant products you could easily wash the protection right out of the suit. Today, fire protection isn’t sprayed on or soaked in. It’s actually part of the fibers. However, fabric does and will wear thin. In this case it begins to become less safe with each wear regardless of brand, color, or SFI rating. So, how do we clean these suits to keep ourselves both presentable and free from odor?
First of all, let's discuss what not to do. Fabric softener is the devil. While it will make your suit soft and smell amazing, it’s flammable and you already know that’s not a good thing for your suit. Fabric softener also makes fabric soft by breaking down the fibers (also not a good thing for your fire suit.) Regular laundry detergent that you see ads for on tv or on shelves at the grocery store are also not safe to use. They contain both fabric softener and perfumes. The largest majority of those “smell good” scents are also flammable. How about dry cleaning? Dry cleaning is its own animal. Dry cleaning isn’t dry at all. The suit is cleaned with a very flammable solvent. Most discount dry cleaners recycle their solvent or clean large batches of clothes all together. It's likely whatever was in the pants, shirt, or blazer that got washed with your suit now shares similar bacteria and funk. The dry cleaning fluid can also cause the dyes in bright fabric to run and bleed. Let's just say dry cleaning would be my very last choice for suit cleaning. So we know what not to do, but what should we do?
Lets get it clean! Look at the suit. See how dirty it is. In many cases its just got a little stink and the outside isn’t bad at all. If this is the case, turn the suit inside out and hang it up to air dry for a few hours. Make certain it is dry and toss it in the freezer. Leave it in the freezer overnight and boom, the odor will be gone. As it turns out the bacteria that causes odor can’t survive the deep freeze. What if it's dirty? We recommend hand washing your suit for best results. We like to use a soft bristle tooth brush for stubborn areas. As far as detergent goes, we highly recommend using product made specifically for washing fire retardant garments. Of course we have an amazing powder that does the best possible job and it works out to be less than $1 per wash. If the suit is really dirty fill your bathtub up and let the suit soak overnight. If you're a dirt racer the bottom of your tub will be very dirty in the morning. Swap the water for clean water and hand wash it. Let's say you don’t have time for the tub and scrub method, no problem. Close all the zippers and velcro. Drop the suit in the washer, add one scoop of our suit wash, and let it ride. No matter how or how often you wash your suit always hang it to air dry.