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Metal & Steel industry - 3 min read - 14 May 2024

Garment lifetime and durability explained

Investing in any new workwear garment is a significant decision. You want the garment to serve its purpose at the highest level for as long as possible. So how can you extend your garment’s lifetime, taking into account all the relevant durability elements that contribute?

There are several areas to consider when it comes to extending your garment’s lifetime. These span across the value chain, from the safety managers who decide which garment to purchase for their workplace, to the end users who wear the garments, as well as fabric suppliers, industrial laundries, and garment manufacturers, who all have direct contact in the creation and maintenance of garments.


1. Employee care of garment

The wearer’s approach to looking after their garment is perhaps one of the more obvious factors towards how to extend its lifetime. In order to contribute positively towards this, the safety manager should help educate and inform the wearer around proper care protocols for the garment. For instance, how to store the garment, how frequently to wash it, and how to properly make use of the garment on the job. The safety manager should also instruct the wearer on the correct applications of the garment, including what tasks it can be used for and what risks it is designed to protect against. While it may seem obvious, this sharing of knowledge between the safety manager and wearer at the very beginning of a new garment coming into use may make a huge difference down the line in terms of the garment’s lifetime. 

2. Proper laundering and maintenance

A critical point in garment lifetime and durability is the laundering and maintenance process. It is highly beneficial to commit to industrial laundering . This is because industrial laundries deeply understand the parameters around workwear fabrics and what is required to safely and effectively launder them without damaging their protective qualities, such as strength, colour and high-vis properties. Industrial laundries will be able to verify, control and check the garment, washing them at the correct temperature and with the appropriate detergent. They will also be able to offer repairs where needed, as well as carrying out decontamination and reapplication following potential chemical splash. All of this contributes towards the longevity of the garment, keeping it in active rotation for longer. 

3. Colour choice

Off the back of conducting proper laundering of the garment, when making selections around your workwear, it is important to choose a colour that will be able to withstand regular industrial laundering. It goes without saying that the colour of your garments, and associated logos, are a key part of your company’s corporate image. So, maintaining the colour of the garments is essential from both a safety and branding perspective. Aim for standard colours in your design, and avoid brighter colours as they may fade quicker.   

4. Garment manufacturer

Going right back to the beginning of the process with any garment, there are a number of things the garment manufacturer can do to support with extending its lifetime. First and foremost, fabric selection is key. When selecting a fabric, the manufacturer must ensure it is fit for purpose  ; that is to say, is the application of the garment being supported by the fabric? To further ensure the garment is fit for purpose, the manufacturer can look at making adjustments or adding reinforcements to improve the garment — for instance, reinforcing the knees or shoulders in garments where their real-world application will see extra pressure placed on those areas of the wearer’s body. 

5. Conducting a wear trial

Extending the lifetime of a garment starts with choosing the right one for your workplace and employees. Conducting a wear trial will give you the best view on how a particular garment is performing, directly through the experiences of wearers. It will allow you to assess if changes or adjustments are required, and ultimately, to choose the most durable, long-lasting solution for your workplace. You may also find it useful, at this stage, to look at the garment’s EPD®, to get a full picture of its life cycle alongside environmental impact.

Keen to learn more about extending the lifetime of your garments?

Why not ask us about Proclaud®: the protective clothing audit? Proclaud® takes the stress out of protective clothing solutions by delivering a custom set of solutions informed by your department’s unique wants and needs — aiming for the most suitable, durable solution for your wearers.