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A welding jacket is a welder’s armor. The mistake is to think that only professionals should wear welding jackets and that you can just put on your everyday shirt when welding. Whether you’re a professional, a hobbyist, or a handyman, you need to wear appropriate protective equipment. Since welding jackets are not exactly cheap, prolonging their life is in your best interest.
There are many ways to keep your welding jacket usable for years to come. One thing you need to do is wash it regularly, but probably not as often as you wash your ordinary clothes. Also, with leather welding garbs, washing is a bit different, if not delicate. You don’t want to mangle your protective outfit and render it uncomfortable, if not unwearable.
The thing is, a lot of welders have trouble washing their jackets. That’s why many welders don’t wash their jackets at all. They argue that it’s pointless to wash something you don’t wear to bed anyway. That makes sense until you realize that underneath an unwashed welding jacket is a layer of dried sweat and grime, a perfect combination for bacteria to grow. If that jacket smells awful, there’s no reason to forgo washing as a basic hygienic step. If you are looking to purchase a new welding jacket visit our Welding Jacket Review.
How to Properly Wash a Welding Jacket
Leather looks tough, but it yields quite easily to harsh chemicals, which is why using a detergent is a no-no. Washing your welding jacket isn’t as complicated as it seems. In fact, you only need 3 things: a bath soap, cleaning cloths, and a conditioner.
The first thing to do is moisten the cloth or rag. You can soak it in lukewarm water with a few drops (about 3-4 drops) of bath soap in it. Be sure to squeeze out all of that excess water before you rub it into your jacket. The point is not to drench the leather jacket and leave it dripping wet. In many cases, there’s no need to soak and wash welding leathers. Sometimes you only need rubbing alcohol to spot clean your jacket. With your damp rag, spot clean the jacket, rubbing it only on areas with smudges.
For heavily soiled jackets, use a more soapy solution. Add more drops of soap in your solution., and again just clean the dirty spots. Don’t be tempted to put the jackets in a laundry machine, and never ever put them in a dryer (1).
Conditioning Your Welding Jacket
Even spot cleaning leather welding jackets can introduce enough water to the material. Leather doesn’t like water. Although it has limited resistance to water, too much water soaks leather, which is permeable in nature. That’s not so bad until it dries out, becomes stiff, and cracks. Too much moisture in leather can also cause it to rot. One way to make leather water resistant is through conditioning. Proper conditioning lengthens the life of leather.
Conditioning is best done after you wash leather to retain some moisture in the material and, thus, prevent cracking. Apply a small amount of conditioner using another cloth. You may use your fingers. Work your way into the leather, making sure you get into the corners and folds. Then allow the jacket to dry naturally. Don’t use a blow dryer. Again, never put damp leather jackets in a dryer.
What about FR cotton welding jackets?
Welding jackets made of flame-resistant cotton can be washed in cold or warm water with detergent. Be sure to turn them inside out before you load them into your washer. Do not use chlorine or any type of bleach. Also, do not use starch and fabric softeners or any chemicals that may affect the flame resistance of the fabric. Using soft water helps remove dirt from the jackets. You may also need stain removers if necessary. Rinse your FR jackets thoroughly, but don’t over dry them.
Extending the Life of Your Welding Jackets
High quality leather jackets are expensive, but they are a good investment. These jackets can withstand 30 or more washes, and you can keep using them for years and years to come if you really take good care of them. Washing and conditioning your leather welding jackets prolong their life.
Other things you can do is apply UV-protectant. Ultraviolet radiation wears down leather in the long run. Notice how much old leather that’s been continually exposed to the sun looks faded and has unsightly cracks?
Storing your welding jackets the right way matters as well. If you think these jackets are too tough to need TLC, think again. You can’t just throw them over a pile of stuff and expect them to look just fine. Take care of your jackets after using them. Hang them on padded clothes hangers.
Your welding jackets aren’t tough guys you can throw on the sofa after use. They need as much care as your everyday clothes do. Cleaning your leather or flame-resistant jackets ensures their longevity. If you can keep your protective equipment in good shape, you don’t have to buy new PPE too soon.