When you work as a contractor, it’s a given that you and your clothes are going to be dirty by the end of the day. Some companies hire a laundry service to clean work clothes, but many have to take care of it themselves.
You don’t have to be a laundry ninja to keep your uniforms clean, stain-free and fresh smelling – you just need to have the right tools. Having a stain chart will help you deal with all types of messes, even those you encounter off the job-site (for a more printer-friendly version you can hang up in the laundry room, click here). Everyone knows it’s almost impossible to eat barbecue and stay tidy. Follow these 4 tips to keep your work clothes looking cleaner and smelling fresher longer.
Wash them ASAP
Don’t wait until the weekend to do a big load because the longer you let them “ferment”, the harder it will be to remove stains and odors. A small load every couple of days won’t take much time. This is especially important if your clothes get wet during the course of the workday; you don’t want mold growing in the hamper.
Use the right cleaning products
There are hundreds of choices on the market, but those most recommended by the professionals (i.e. the people who do their own laundry) are Shout stain remover, All or Arm & Hammer laundry detergent, OxyClean laundry additive (like a nonchlorine bleach), and vinegar to remove odors.
If you can’t bear the smell of vinegar, use a regular fabric softener. Spray stains with a generous amount of stain remover and let them sit for a few minutes before starting the laundry. Cola can be used to remove tough grease from clothing; add one can of any type, even generic, per load. This is a great way to use up the last of a two-liter that’s gone flat. Use this sparingly because the cola will eat through your clothes if you do this with every load.
Wash with warm water (or hotter)
Laundry products might brag that they work well in cold water, but they mean regular household laundry and lightly soiled items. Wash work clothes in the hottest water the fabrics can stand. For most items, this will be warm water. Work socks, which are usually white, should go in hot water. Set the washer on the heavy-duty cycle, if your machine has it. Extremely dirty or smelly items might have to go through two cycles before they’re completely clean.
Be ready to freshen up onsite
Sometimes you might be called into a meeting and not have time to change, so it’s important to stash a couple of laundry aids in your toolbox or truck to help you look presentable and smell fresh. A Tide Stain Stick is about the side of a tire presser gauge and can quickly remove many stains. Press the tip of the stick against the stain to wet it, then use it to scrub lightly until the stain is gone.
Not only does this pretreat the stain so it won’t be permanent, but it can remove all traces of many of them. A small bottle of Febreeze in a scent that’s not overpowering comes in handy too; a couple of quick squirts on your shirt will dry quickly so you don’t smell like sweat or fluids during a surprise meeting with the boss or a client. Both of these can be found in the laundry products aisle in grocery and big box stores.
Doing your own work laundry is just like any project on the job. It isn’t nearly as difficult when you have the right tools and know-how. Follow these tips and your work clothes will stay clean and fresh without professional help.