10 Simple and planet friendly ways to make uniforms last longer
We’re often asked for our suggestions to help make uniforms last longer.
There are so many ways to do this, we can’t possibly squeeze all our recommendations into the tiny labels we sew into our uniforms.
By implementing ways to improve the lifespan of your uniforms in your business, you could cut your annual uniform budget in half, and then enjoy the benefits of those savings.
You’ll also be providing some welcome relief to the planet’s resources.
We’ve all thrown something in the tumble dryer that we shouldn’t have. Or, washed an item of clothing on the wrong setting that caused irreversible damage *Puts a hand up, should know better*.
In the uniform space, some products last for years for some businesses, and yet the exact same product, can be literally DESTROYED in less than 2 weeks by a different business.
Some styles may be shredded by casual staff at a particular venue. Yet, will remain perfectly tidy and crisp by full timers serving at the same venue.
True examples – but we’re not here to shame any business!
These destroyed uniforms ended up in landfill way before their time. All because of situations that could have been avoided if proper care was taken by those wearing and washing them.
We’re all making better choices about where we buy our clothes, who made them and what they’re made of these days. As well as what we can do to ensure they last as long as possible and conserve precious environmental resources.
Here are some useful tips to help with the care of your uniforms while they’re hard at work on your bodies all day everyday. Just as importantly – how they’re washed and stored for best long term results.
1) Buy High Quality Uniforms & Clothing.
It’s very tempting when we’re crunching numbers to pick up that ‘cheap’ option. A bargain can be as alluring as it can be a waste of money.
Like the time I bought the *bargain* i-phone stand that broke the first time I used it when I went live on FB.
Or, the *bargain* non returnable, on sale yoga pants with the right leg a size XS, and the left a size M.
If your supplier uses sustainable fabrics like Bamboo, organic cotton or recycled yarns – and even includes a little spare button in the side seams – then you know the Designers intend for the garment to last longer.
Cutting corners on price = cutting corners on quality.
2) Protect your uniforms.
Your team might be too *busy* to put an apron on while they’re performing their messiest tasks. No Manager wants to crush the spirit of their team members! However, the funds allocated to replace stained uniforms could be spent elsewhere in the business ; like increased renumeration packages and staff incentives! So, perhaps a friendly conversation wouldn’t hurt at the next team meeting?
I know, I know – your uniforms are too pretty to cover up! Or too cool, so an apron might ‘ruin the look’. We understand that may have been an issue in the past, so designed a range of aprons that won’t reduce the beautiful uniform image, but will prolong a ‘death by stain’ situation.
Most aprons these days are designed to be practical, modern and sustainable. Not an inconvenience, or vibe killer.
3) Don’t wash (or Dry Clean) uniforms excessively.
A procurement ratio for uniforms is usually “3 uniforms for full timers, 2 for part timers and 1 for casuals”. This seems to be a ‘general’ rule for most businesses, and it’s a good one for a lot of reasons.
Some full timers that are only allocated (1) one uniform for a 5 day/ full time week have to wash and dry a soiled uniform overnight. If that one (1) uniform is worn all week – it will start to SMELL! No matter how clean/ tidy the wearer is, or how often they reapply deodorant during the day.
If the Uniform is designed to be worn over something else (EG: a jacket) then these items don’t need to be washed or cleaned too often. If you are dry cleaning, ask your dry cleaner for the lightest, or greenest chemicals. Try here for QLD or here for Vic.
More to come later on Dry Cleaning tips 🙂
Providing your team with a uniform to change into every 2 – 3 days means that the Uniform will be limited to a wash once per week. They can then can be dried naturally to conserve emissions and preserve fabric durability.
4) Follow the Care Instructions
Our tedious, yet very important wash/wear testing provides scientific evidence to support the care labels we include on every uniform (those tiny labels sewn inside a uniform with instructions for the washing, drying and ironing needs for that exact style). For any of us that purchase clothing (that’s all of us, excluding nudists), or that procure uniforms…and especially for those responsible for laundering their own clothing… there is a duty of care to follow them.
We’re not able to replace any uniforms that have been ruined by washing without adhering to the instructions. They are tested to enable ‘standard wear & tear’ for around 6 – 9 months as a minimum.
Follow the rest of these suggestions – and they’ll last even longer!
5) Sort your laundry – just like Mum taught you.
Did your mum (or dad, or carer) tell you when you were growing up to “do your shoelaces up or you’ll fall over”?
Or “stop running in the hallway or you’ll hurt your brother and it will END IN TEARS”?
Yet, you boldly continued to scurry about with loose shoelaces because those consequences never deterred you.
Felt pretty smug didn’t you?
Next minute – you’ve tripped over while tagging your little brother “it” and sent him flying down the hallway to land on his face.
You might have also heard your parents say things like “don’t wash darks with lights” or “don’t wash fluffy towels with your black work clothes”! They were, yet again, trying to prevent unpleasant outcomes with a word of warning.
Short or long term damage to uniforms can be caused by poorly sorted laundry. Ignoring these wise words means you’ll be risking your whites turning pink, or spending hours picking annoying fluffy white stuff off your uniforms!
We’ll be there…a little voice in your head … “Mum knows best!”
6) Wash Clothes Inside out.
This is a GREAT tip – AND only takes a few extra seconds.
When you take your clothes off, turn them inside out at the same time. Undressing can turn garments inside out anyway – so this requires NO extra effort. Wash all garments this way. Then dry them inside out too.
This simple process reduces fading to the uniform and any applications like trims or logos. Plus, it protects the exterior from zips or sharp edges that might snag logos and fabrics.
While we’re here – zip up all zips, button up all buttons and wash bras in the delicate bags before. A few extra ways you can avoid sharp trims from annihilating another item of clothing in the same tub.
It might mean an extra few seconds to turn the uniforms back the right way once dry, but every fibre, texture and dye stuff will thank you for extending their lifespan.
7) Wash in cold water – no matter what the care label says.
Cold water washing prevents colour fading, and won’t shrink your clothes like warm or hot water can.
It’s tempting to wash uniforms in hot water for ‘thorough cleansing’ as you would wash your dishes. But warm water will set protein stains – like blood or sweat – in to the material further.
Washing in cold water will maintain a brighter colour, a whiter white, and won’t impact the size and shape of your uniform prematurely.
Plus, it’s the more eco-friendly option.
8) Dry on the line.
It’s so convenient to pop clothes into the tumble dryer when you need to dry something quickly.
Especially during winter, and especially if you don’t have a spare uniform ready to wear the next day. BUT – tumble drying can cause shrinkage (a result that is irreversible) and wrinkles that are challenging to iron out later. Drying clothes on the clothes line is a great way to preserve the quality of the material, and the longevity of the garment stitching. PLUS, if you dry your uniforms on a hanger while on the clothes line – you could even skip the ironing process as well.
Dry out of direct sunlight for best results.
*Note : Please do iron uniforms. Lightly at least. They look smarter with a quick once over, and will stay looking smarter for longer. This is just for your own personal benefit – appearance is everything in a customer facing role. *
9) Store Uniforms Wisely
Storing surplus stock correctly when not in use, is critical for the longevity of all kinds of uniforms.
Under the reception desk, hanging off a hook in the tea room, or in the back seat of the car…are not ideal. Being exposed to sunlight (as well as some harsh indoor lighting) over a long period of time, will cause uniform fading. It can even cause some fabrics to perish entirely.
Keeping Uniforms hanging in a wardrobe with doors, or flat packed in the boxes (just the packaging you may have received with your delivery) in a dark, cool space is ideal.
Your Manager (or whoever invested in the uniforms) will appreciate it when your usual “bedroom floor dirty washing pile” is up-graded to an enclosed laundry basket system.
That way, while waiting for the wash, your uniforms are treated with the same kind of respect as when they’re proudly worn on your body.
You don’t need to throw away uniforms because a button fell off or there’s a small rip. Even before uniforms have been worn or washed very often – all kinds of situations can happen that not even the most thorough textile test, or dedicated Uniform Stylist, could anticipate.
Your pet dog might rip the cuff off your pants with excitement when you walk in the door after work!
Your client might wave her hands around re-enacting her recent engagement while you’re investigating her skin – snagging your new top with her bling as she does so.
Or perhaps you have thrown your uniform into a heavy duty wash cycle along with the kids camping gear and that seemingly insignificant decision, might start to weaken the threads holding a button on. All of these, true stories.
All of which, can be repaired with a needle and thread at home, or a local mender. Ask us if we can help mend your uniforms for longer term wear. We’d rather help you mend an otherwise “good as new” uniform, than buy a whole new one.
We say “simple” when we describe these tips to make uniforms last longer – meaning LOW effort – not NO effort.
A client recently told us :
“Our team LOVE wearing your uniforms. We don’t need to replace them as often as we used to – they wash so well. But, that’s NOT good for your business – they last too long!”.
A lovely compliment indeed.
However, hearing that there is a happy, stylish team enjoying long term wear in our uniforms is in fact a GOOD result for our business.
And good for our planet.
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