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Maintaining High-Vis Wear: How to Clean High-Vis Wear

When you’re on the job, you want to display professionalism with a clean, crisp look while also remaining safe and visible. Properly cleaning high-visibility (high-vis) wear is one of the most effective ways to look your best and stay safe. 

What Is High-Vis Material?

High-visibility material is a bright, reflective fabric designed to make the person wearing it visible to everyone around them. High-vis clothing such as jackets and vests help individuals navigate high-traffic areas safely.

High-visibility apparel is often made out of:

  • Polyester: Some high-vis clothing is made out of polyester or a polyester blend. Polyester has strong, durable fibers that can withstand stretching and moisture, helping the clothing last long.
  • Spandex: High-vis apparel often has spandex blended with polyester to give the clothing more stretch while maintaining polyester’s durability. Spandex is a lightweight material that quickly returns to its original form even after repeated wear or stretching, adding to the clothing’s longevity.
  • Fluorescent-dyed materials: The base materials of high-vis clothing receive treatment with fluorescent dye to give them their characteristic glow. The dye reacts with the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays to create that glowing appearance, which is most visible in poor lighting, such as at dawn or dusk.
  • Reflective materials: High-vis clothing has reflective parts made with either micro prismatic tape or glass bead reflective tape. These tapes help improve visibility during dark conditions visibility by bouncing reflected light back to the source.

Why Does Proper Maintenance for High-Vis Apparel Matter?

High-visibility apparel’s unique material and reflective additions need careful attention and cleaning to retain their bright, visible and reflective qualities that protect workers on the job.

High-vis clothing helps the person wearing it stand out from their environment, helping others around them notice them. It can protect individuals in situations where they work:

  • Close to roadways and high-traffic areas
  • In dark, rainy or foggy conditions
  • Around barriers such as trees or construction equipment

How to Clean Safety Vests and Other High-Vis Clothing

With proper cleaning, your safety gear will look its best and keep you visible on your work site. Before cleaning your high-vis clothing, read the manufacturer’s tag sewn along the interior by the neck, side or back. Some cleaning tips may work for certain types of high-vis apparel and not for others, so always read the tag first to see what’s best for your clothing.

1. Brush off Dirt and Grime

High-vis clothing is worn in all kinds of environments that can leave it coated in grease, oil, mud, grime and other types of dirt. Clearing off grime prevents the dirty particles from embedding into the fabric and leaving permanent stains.

Before washing your high-vis item, brush off any dirt and wipe off any grime. Some materials may have a water-repellent finish to help with dirt removal, but other styles may not, so be careful to clear off any dirt before washing the material.

2. Remove Stains

Removing stains before washing protects your high-vis clothing since dust, dirt, grease and other grime can destroy reflective parts.

To remove stains, follow these steps:

  1. Find a soft cloth or sponge
  2. Dampen a less visible area of the clothing with water and mild detergent
  3. Gently rub the stain 
  4. Let the clothing sit for a few minutes
  5. Wipe away the detergent and see how the clothing has reacted

You may be able to use a mild stain remover made specifically for fluorescent material, but be sure to check the tag first or test it out in a concealed area to ensure it works properly.

3. Wash Cold

When machine washing, wash your high-vis clothing with cold water to preserve functionality. Adhesives attaching reflective parts to the fabric and fluorescent dye can weaken and bleed with higher temperatures, so washing cold and inside out will help your clothing experience longer-lasting performance.

Other important washing tips include:

  • Use neutral detergents: Neutral detergents help preserve the fluorescent dye.
  • Wash alone: High-vis clothing should be washed on its own or with similar soft fabrics on a delicate cycle to prevent adhesive loss or tears from hook-and-loop fasteners.
  • Avoid bleach and fabric softeners: These products can discolor and damage high-vis fabric.
  • Remove immediately when the dry cycle is done: When your high-vis clothing is finished washing, immediately take it out to prevent wrinkles.

4. Hang to Dry

While some care instructions say high-vis clothing can be machine dried on a tumble dry low setting, it is best to hang up your items to prevent wrinkling and creasing on reflective parts. Hang drying will also help you protect the adhesives used to apply the reflective parts to the fabric.

When hanging, choose an indoor location away from direct sunlight to avoid fading the fluorescent material. Wringing can destroy the reflective parts and weaken adhesives, so it’s best to let high-vis clothing completely dry on its own. Direct heat from ironing may also damage adhesives, so if you need to remove wrinkles, use the lowest setting on a steamer.

Other Important Tips for Maintaining Your High-Vis Apparel

Cleaning your high-vis apparel with proper methods can ensure its durability and long-lasting performance. Appropriate maintenance will also ensure your high-vis clothing keeps you safe. Take care of your high-vis apparel by:

  • Hanging it up when not in use instead of balling it up or leaving it in a pile
  • Spot cleaning dirty areas as soon as possible
  • Wearing appropriate high-vis apparel for the weather
  • Rotating and replacing items frequently 

Let Us Help You Find the Right High-Vis Clothing for You

When you need to replace your high-vis clothing, choose D.E. Gemmill Inc., where your safety is our business. Since 1986, we have offered advanced quality products backed by exceptional services. We carry an extensive selection of ANSI-compliant high-vis clothing designed to increase situational awareness and improve job site safety.

Browse our selection of high-visibility wear, or contact us online today to speak with our knowledgeable staff about the right gear for you or your company.



Craig Adams, Inc. has used D.E. Gemmill exclusively for our Line Painting and Signage needs since the 90’s.  We have always been very pleased with the quality of work performed, jobs completed in a timely fashion, and at competitive prices, on all size projects.  A great company to do business with!

— B. Keller , General Manager    , W. Craig Adams Inc

It has always been a positive experience working with D.E. Gemmill. It all starts in the estimating department where I can always count on receiving a proposal that is accurate and thorough. Then we have the tough task of scheduling on tight time frame jobs where Cary and Dave always seem to work us in when we need it. The field guys always do their best to bring to our attention possible conflicts that could present problems if they notice something that isn’t quite right.

I would recommend D.E. Gemmill’s services for anyone looking to have professional and quality workmanship on their projects.

— W. Stevens , Project Manager , Mainline Excavating

We wanted to send you a thank you for the great job. The men working were very good and completed their job very professionally. I really like when you have a great team to work with. Again thank you and your crew, we would recommend your company to anyone.

— W. Willders , Westminster Place At Stewartstown

I would like to let you know that the line painting crew (Donnie, Albert, Scott, Tom, and Possum) did a fantastic job this week. It was a pleasure to work with them and the respect they showed me while I was riding along. Please pass my appreciation along to them.

Also if you can get Donnie into singing lessons that would be great.  My ears still feel the pain.


— S. Walker , City of Lebanon – Traffic Shop

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