Careers & Education

How to take care of your work uniform

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man in uniform
A clean, crisp uniform shows the world you're ready for action.
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Tips and guidelines for maintaining your work uniform with care

A number of industries require workers to wear uniforms to give an impression of organization, competence and professionalism. Police, firemen and hospital workers are identifiable to the public because they wear familiar uniforms. How you take care of your work uniform is an important factor in how clients perceive you and whether or not they feel confident in your skills.

Taking care of your work uniform is not a difficult process once you incorporate it into your weekly routine. If you have enough work uniforms to get you through a week of work, choose a day of the week to wash and care for your uniforms and you wonít feel self-conscious about wrinkles and stains again.

The best way to maintain your uniform will depend on the fabric

Cotton uniforms: Cold wash by hand or with machine. Hang dry.

Wool uniforms: Dry clean or wash by hand. Hang dry. Never machine wash.

Leather shoes: Brush off dirt when it dries, wipe with damp cloth, oil and polish as needed.

Washing a Work Uniform

In work uniform care, the first wash is important for preserving the color of new uniforms. Use hot water to remove any minor stains and kill bacteria. Hand-wash each item in warm water separately with detergent. Do not use bleach. Depending on the color saturation, you may want to continue hand washing your uniform until the colors donít bleed into the water. After about twelve washes, you can switch to cold water.


* If you wash garments together and colors bleed on the first wash, wash the garments again separately with detergent and warm water before they can dry. This should prevent colors from staining.

* While itís a good idea to stick to hand-washing, if you choose wash with a machine be sure to remove garments as soon as the cycle is finished as wet garments wrinkle and the colors can bleed.

* If the nature of your work leaves you with a pile of dirt-stained uniforms every week, avoid fabric softeners as they can cause dirt and stains to resist removal.

* Color brightener or white wash as part of work uniform care keeps scrubs and other medical uniforms looking sharp.

* If your uniform includes a hat or cap, keep it stain-free because itís often the first thing people will see. Baseball-style caps can be washed on the second level of a dish washer for a more gentle, but effective wash.

Drying a work uniform

Your work uniform will last longer if you hang your uniform to dry instead of throwing it in the machine. It may take longer to dry, but youíll look crisp and wonít have to worry about wrinkles.

Ironing and starching a work uniform

From the military to the police force, many professions expect the smooth, stiff look of a starched uniform. Before you iron or starch, check your material to make sure the iron wonít scorch or melt it. For instance, many sporting uniforms should not be ironed.

Use starch if your uniform wrinkles easily. Once garments are dry, hold starch about two inches from the material and spray liberally. Make sure the steam setting is off and iron immediately. Note that the more starch you use, the stiffer your uniform will be so unless heavy starch goes with your work territory, apply just enough starch to keep your uniform neat without causing you discomfort.

Don't forget to shine

Itís easy to forget about the scuffs and dirt on your shoes. That is, until your bossís or patientís eyes wander down. Brush off dirt daily and use a simple shoe shine kit to polish and buff as needed.

Work uniform care may seem like a lot of effort, but itís worth the effort and shows you take pride in your work.

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