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How to clean pesticide-tainted workwear

How to clean pesticide-tainted workwear

By Scout Nelson

When working with pesticides, proper handling of contaminated clothing is crucial to minimize health risks. Here are key steps to manage and clean work clothes that have been exposed to pesticides.

Pre-Washing Care
Before washing, it's important to minimize the spread of pesticide residues. While still outside, shake off any residues from your clothes, focusing on areas like cuffs and pockets where residues accumulate.

Establish a specific area either outside or inside your home for changing out of these clothes, ensuring it's a space that can be easily cleaned.

Safe Storage
If immediate washing isn't possible, store your pesticide-contaminated clothing in a sealed container or garbage bag in a safe area like a garage or covered porch, away from children and pets. This prevents accidental exposure before the items can be laundered.

Laundering Procedures
Always read the pesticide label for specific laundering instructions. Keep contaminated clothing separate from household laundry to avoid cross-contamination. Use protective gloves when handling these items and dispose of any clothing that is heavily contaminated and cannot be effectively cleaned.

Use a pre-rinse or soak setting to start the washing process. Select wash settings that use hot water and a long cycle to ensure thorough cleaning, along with a heavy-duty detergent. After washing, run an empty cleaning cycle in your washing machine to remove any lingering residues.

Drying and Post-Care
Dry the laundered clothes on a line under direct sunlight, which helps break down any remaining pesticide residues. If using a dryer, choose a high heat setting to further aid in residue breakdown. Remember to clean the dryer after use to prevent any residue transfer to subsequent loads.

Change out of contaminated work clothes daily, and ensure you're following all recommended safety protocols, including wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when applying pesticides.

This reduces the risk of pesticide exposure to both the applicator and their family, promoting a safer work and home environment.

Photo Credit: istock-fotokostic

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