How to Wash Turnout Gear

Proper care of turnout gear can protect fire fighters in demanding situations.
Proper care of turnout gear can protect fire fighters in demanding situations. (Image: fire fighters image by darephoto from <a href=''></a>)

Turnout gear is part of a firefighter’s lifeline. The gear is designed to protect the fire fighter from fire and heat injuries. Keeping the turnout gear clean is crucial to extending the life of the gear, as well as ensuring its effectiveness. Cleaning the gear will eliminate any flammable materials picked up in the course of a fire, and will remove built-up soot and dirt that can degrade the protective characteristics of the material.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean, dry rags
  • Soft bristled brush
  • pH 6-10.5 detergent

After Each Use

Brush off any excess dirt or debris on the turnout gear by hand or with a dry rag. Rinse dirty areas with small amounts of water if necessary.

Scrub dirty spots, soot or ash marks with a soft-bristled brush. Wipe stubborn areas with a damp cloth.

Hang the gear to allow any damp spots to dry and allow it to air out.

Thorough Cleaning

Separate the shells and liners of your protective gear. Wash shells and liners separately, in an industrial sink or large commercial washer. Fasten all buttons and closures. Turn the gear inside out and place it in a mesh bag if you are using a commercial washer.

Select a detergent with a pH level between 6 and 10.5. Pre-treat any stubborn stain areas with detergent. Fill the washer or tub with water, making sure the water temperature does not exceed 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

Run the gear through one cycle with the industrial washer, or scrub the gear thoroughly in the sink, then drain the water. Refill the sink and add additional detergent to repeat the cleaning process or run the washer through another cycle.

Hang the gear in a well-ventilated area to dry, keeping it out of direct sun. If you prefer to dry it in a commercial dryer, place the gear inside out in a mesh bag with all buttons and closures fastened. Select the heat-free option if possible, or keep the heat below 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

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