Hazmat suits are very effective ppe when worn to protect the body from dangerous chemicals. However, in the course of wearing them, they can become contaminated. So, can you wash a hazmat suit? Find out in this post.
Are Hazmat Suits Washable?
Yes, hazmat suits are washable. However, they must be re-useable hazmat suits to do so. Do not attempt to wash a single use hazmat suit and then wear it again.
Whether a hazmat suit can be washed varies depending on the type of hazmat suit. Hazmat suits are made of different materials, some of which can be washed and reused, while others cannot.
The simplest way to find out whether a hazmat suit is able to be laundered is by looking at the tag attached to it. If there is no indication that it can be washed then do not attempt to. Hazmat suits that can be cleaned, decontaminated, and re-used are often more expensive.
When To Clean A Hazmat Suit
Hazmat suits should be cleaned after each use and before being stored. Even if they are worn in environments without dangerous chemicals, they can still be contaminated by bacteria.
Can A Hazmat Suit Be Put In A Washing Machine?
No. A hazmat suit can be damaged by placing it in a washing machine. The machine cycle’s can harm the material and render the suit useless. Also, a hazmat suit should not be placed in a dryer either. To dry a hazmat suit, wipe it down with a dry towel, and lay it out on a clean flat surface.
How Do You Wash A Hazmat Suit?
Washing a hazmat suit is not difficult and only takes a few minutes.
What you need:
- 2 buckets
- Measuring container
- Disposable cloth
- Mixing tray
- Square plastic sheet or large bag
Make sure to wash a hazmat suit in a safe place away from a drinking water source, animals, or children.
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Steps to wash:
- Lay out the square plastic sheet on the ground in an open space.
- Place two buckets on the mixing tray.
- Fill both buckets with water.
- Dip the gloves (while still worn) in the bucket and scrub them back and forth.
- Remove each PPE item, including face shield and respirator, but not the gloves.
- Take off upper part of your hazmat coverall and tie the sleeves around your waste.
- Remove your undershirt and wash it in the second bucket.
- Remove boots on the mixing tray and stand on a dry clean surface next to it.
- Remove the hazmat coveralls entirely.
- Wash the hazmat suit in the soap bucket thoroughly by hand wearing the rubber gloves.
- Wash the rubber gloves again store the hazmat suit for later use.
Clean the hazmat suit and each item of PPE according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Never poor out the buckets of detergent into a drain or in open agricultural areas. Finally, complete written records of the hazmat suit cleaning process and any ppe included.
Can You Take A Hazmat Suit To The Dry Cleaners?
Not likely. Dry cleaners usually only take cloth garments, such as suits, shirts, vests, and skirts. A dry cleaner may have the knowledge to clean a hazmat suit but not be willing to take the time or have the right space to do so.
How To Clean A Level A Hazmat Suit
Level A hazmat suits that are reusable require a special cleaning process to make sure they are decontaminated. They can be done through a decon corridor in a hazmat decon pool. The cleaning process depends on the contaminants and work environment the suit was exposed to. Cleaning a level A hazmat suit will require the assistance of a trained person to do most of the cleaning while it is being worn.
- Have the second person use a pressure washer to spray off loose contaminants.
- Rinse the suit thoroughly from head to toe with with a water sprayer and soft brushes.
- Remove gloves and boot covers.
- Use contaminant tests on outside of the suit.
- If all contaminant tests are negative, remove the suit
- Sit down and remove hazmat buits.
- Remove the respirator and face piece.
- Decontaminate respirator and face piece.
Always move forward through the decon process and do not back to previous decon pools. Make sure to follow any steps laid out by the suit’s manufacture. If there is any damage on a level A hazmat suit, then repair it or disgard it immediately.
For more information, see:
- OSHA’s Technical Manual (OTM) – Section VIII: Chapter 1 – Chemical Protective Clothing – Section VII. Decontamination Procedures
How To Disinfect A Hazmat Suit
Disinfectants are fluids that destroy bacteria and disease-carrying microorganisms. Hazmat suits are often worn by workers in labratories or disease infected areas. When cleaning a hazmat suit, a mild disinfectant spray or fluid can be used to wipe down the suit and remove bacteria.
You should never use bleach or harsh chemicals on the hazmat suit because that could ruin the material. If you are wearing the hazmat suit while cleaning it, make sure there are no sharp objects around you. Follow the suit’s instructions as to which disinfectants are safe to use on the suit.
Do Not Wash And Reuse Disposable Hazmat Suits
Disposable hazmat suits are not made to be reused. They can be rinsed off before disgarding, however they must not be worn again. Fortunately, disposable hazmat suits are often much cheaper than re-usable versions and can be purchased in bulk packages. If you wear a disposable hazmat suit, remove it when finished and grab another one out of the package.
Inspect Your Hazmat Suit For Any Damage
During the cleaning process, check the re-usable hazmat suit for any holes, tears, or leaks that can render it inneffective. This should be done for all reusable hazmat suits. If a hazmat suit is damaged, it should be disposed of. Also, if a hazmat suit is old, it may need to be replaced. For more info see our post When Do Hazmat Suits Expire?
UP NEXT: How To Dispose of a HAZMAT Suit
Hazmat suits are special forms of PPE that must be worn and cleaned properly to keep the wearer safe. Always know if your hazmat suit is re-usaeable before washing and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
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