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How to Clean Your High-Visibility Jacket Without Damaging It?

High-visibility jackets are an essential part of safety apparel, designed to ensure that you stand out in challenging environments. From construction sites to nighttime jogging, these vibrant pieces of safety gear, adorned with reflective stripes, play a crucial role in maintaining visibility.

Knowing how to clean hi-vis jackets properly is pivotal to prolonging their lifespan and ensuring that their reflective properties remain intact. In this article, we delve into the care, washing, and maintenance of high-visibility clothing.

Exploring the Make-up of High-Visibility Jackets

High visibility jackets are typically made from polyester, known for its durability and ease of care. The reflective tapes often include microscopic glass beads that enhance visibility by reflecting light.

Understanding how to clean hi-vis jacket begins with reading the care labels. These labels provide insights into the proper care needed to maintain the garment's protective qualities.

Common Symbols and Instructions

  • Machine Wash: A symbol of a washing machine drum indicates that the hi-vis clothing can be machine washed.
    machine wash symbol

  • Cold Water: A tap symbol implies using cold water, which is gentler on bright colours and reflective strips.

    cold wash symbol

  • Do Not Bleach: A triangle with a cross suggests avoiding bleach or fabric softener, which can damage the reflective qualities.
    do not bleach symbol

  • Line Dry: A square with a semi-circle means it is best to line dry the hi-vis apparel, preserving its reflective properties.
    line dry symbol


Preparing to Wash Your High-Visibility Jacket

Before washing your safety vest or hi-vis jackets, inspect them for any damage, stains, or loose reflective strips. Pre-treat stains with a mild stain remover if necessary.

Sort laundry based on color and material to avoid color bleeding and damage to reflective tapes. Washing high-visibility jackets separately is recommended to remove excess dirt and ensure the garment's longevity.

The Washing Process

Ensuring that your high-visibility jackets are cleaned without compromising their protective features requires meticulous attention during the washing process. Let's delve into each step of this crucial phase.

1. Choosing the Right Detergent

The first step in understanding how to clean hi-vis jackets lies in selecting an appropriate detergent. Opt for a mild detergent that is free from harsh chemicals.

It's crucial to avoid detergents containing bleach or fabric softener, as these can erode the microscopic glass beads embedded in the reflective tapes and diminish the jacket's visibility. Instead, choose a detergent that is gentle on fabrics but effective in stain removal.

2. Setting the Washer

Once you have the right detergent, you need to set up your washing machine correctly to ensure the hi-vis clothing is cleaned without damage. Select a gentle or delicate cycle to avoid rough agitation that can harm the reflective stripes and bright colours of the safety gear. Cold water is preferable, as it is gentle on the fabrics and helps maintain the garment's protective qualities.

When loading the machine, ensure that the high visibility jackets are not cramped or twisted. Place them uniformly to facilitate an even wash that effectively removes loose dirt without compromising the integrity of the fabric. Avoid mixing hi-vis gear with rough fabrics that could potentially snag or damage the reflective tapes.

3. Hand Washing Option

For those who prefer hand washing their safety apparel, the process can be just as effective in maintaining the reflective properties of the gear. Here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. Prepare the Wash Basin: Fill a basin with cold water, ensuring there's enough room for the jacket to move freely.

  2. Add Detergent: Add a small amount of mild detergent and mix it gently to create a soapy solution.

  3. Wash the Jacket: Submerge your hi-vis jacket into the basin, gently agitating the water and fabric together to remove loose dirt and stains. Pay attention to heavily soiled areas and treat them with a mild stain remover if necessary.

  4. Rinse Thoroughly: After washing, rinse the jacket multiple times in clean, cold water to remove excess dirt and soap residue.

  5. Gentle Squeeze: Gently squeeze out excess water from the jacket without wringing or twisting, as this can distort the reflective tapes.

4. Drying Considerations

Drying your high visibility jackets appropriately is as vital as the wash. Air drying or line drying is preferred, as it allows the jacket to retain its shape and reflective qualities without exposure to high heat. If you must use a dryer, ensure it is set to a low-temperature setting.

Avoid high heat as it can compromise the adhesive of the reflective tapes and fade the bright colours of the hi-vis apparel. Lay the jacket flat to dry if possible, ensuring that the reflective strips are not folded or crinkled.

Post-Washing Care

After washing, examine your high-visibility jacket for loose threads, peeling reflective tape, or lingering stains. Minor repairs can be done at home, but significant damages may require professional help.

Store your jacket in a cool, dry place, either hung up or folded inside out to protect the reflective tape and colours from damage.

Regular Maintenance and Longevity

  • Routine Cleaning: The frequency of cleaning your high-visibility jacket depends on usage. While regular washing removes stains, excessive cleaning, especially with hot water or machine drying, can lead to wear.

  • Protecting the Jacket: To prolong the life of your hi-viz jacket, store it away from direct sunlight, handle it gently, and use low settings if you choose to tumble dry.

  • Replacement Indicators: Look for signs like faded colours, damaged reflective tape, and persistent stains as indicators that it's time to replace your high-visibility clothing.


Ensuring the proper care and maintenance of high-visibility clothing is crucial for safety and durability. By diligently following washing guidelines, inspecting regularly, and timely replacements, you can keep your safety gear at its best.

For those seeking a reliable option, consider the Fonirra JK51 ANSI Class 3 Men's High Visibility Winter Safety Jacket.

Designed with a windproof and water-resistant 300D Oxford outer shell and a cozy polar fleece inner lining, this jacket offers enhanced protection against cold weather. With its double cuffs and storm flap front, it is an exemplary choice for those prioritizing both safety and comfort.

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