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Using Fabric Softener with FRC Clothing: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

Tyndale FRMC Micro-Fleece Jacket

This blog post is the third, and final, part of a 3-part series. Previously in September, we covered How to Wash FR Clothing and its Useful Wear Life and Laundering Myths: Is Lint Contamination Really a Threat to Your FR Clothing

Using fabric softener on FRC has been questioned over the years. However, research and testing may change your mind on whether or not using fabric softener on your FR clothing is safe.

Since OSHA first enacted regulations related to FR clothing for electric distribution, there has never been a product failure or OSHA citation related to home laundering of FRC. In fact, OSHA has never issued a requirement for industrial laundering of FR clothing. Home laundering has proven to be a cost-effective alternative to industrial laundering and can help preserve the useful life and protective qualities of FRC.

When used in excess and/or over a long period of time, fabric softener may coat flame resistant fabrics and support flame. If you believe too much fabric softener was used with a laundry load, a single laundering without fabric softener will remove any build-up and safely return a garment to normal protection levels.

However, repeated laboratory testing at 2x recommended fabric softener levels show little adverse impact on flammability through 25 launderings.

Testing by Precision Testing Laboratories for Tyndale has repeatedly shown garments to pass ASTM D-6413 after 25 laundering cycles using both a fabric softener dryer sheet and liquid fabric softener. These tests were conducted on a variety of fabrics, including: 

 

  • 14 oz. FRMC® Fleece (seen in image above)
  • 14.25 oz. FRMC® Denim
  • 6.5 oz. UltraSoft® Knit
  • 7 oz. UltraSoft® Twill

More than 90% of electric utilities in the U.S. utilize home laundering for their FR clothing needs. This equates to more than 250,000 employees washing their own FRC daily. Plus, Tyndale guarantees 100% of the products we sell to retain their flame resistance for the useful life of the garment.

Remember these simple tips for using fabric softener on your FRC:

  • Check the care label on the clothing you’re washing for specific instructions.
  • Read the fabric-softener package; it may contain a warning indicating the product is not safe for use on certain types of garments. Do not use fabric softener that contains this type of warning.

Please Note: As a best practice, Tyndale recommends avoiding the use of fabric softener on FR clothing only because many fabric softeners include a warning label against using on flame resistant clothing. In laboratory testing, when fabric softener is used in excess, it may coat FR fabric and support flame in very specific situations. However, it is difficult for this build-up to occur in real life. Regardless, our general policy is to never recommend using a product against its instructions.

For more information on Care and Maintenance of FR Clothing, please see ASTM F2757, Standard Guide for Home Laundering Care and Maintenance of Flame, Thermal and Arc Resistant Clothing, or view our FRC Care & Maintenance Training video.

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