Canadian Security Magazine

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Cleaning and caring for guard uniforms during COVID-19


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Stationed at grocery stores, hospitals, and construction sites, security guards have found themselves on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the Coronavirus is spread person to person through respiratory droplets by coughing or sneezing, it can live on surfaces for a period of time and this includes articles of clothing. To be safer and more protected at work, guards need to clean their uniforms regularly. Like handwashing, there is a “right way” to effectively clean garments hygienically and safely. Here are some best practices:

Guards who work in crowded places should make it a habit to wash their uniform immediately after work. Uniforms can be washed at home or taken to the local dry-cleaner. While home washing is an effective method of cleaning, the dry-cleaning process will protect the integrity of the garment and prevent shrinkage. The virus is killed by washing garments in over 80-degree Fahrenheit or 27 degrees Celsius temperatures. Though a washing machine’s “warm” setting is well above this temperature, it’s recommended to use the “hot” setting for the time being. The American Chemistry Council has compiled an in-depth list of products that combat against COIVD-19, but drugstore detergents like Tide are certainly effective cleaning agents. Dry the uniform in a machine on a high heat setting. For extra precaution, extend the cycle by 20 to 30 minutes.

Evidence suggests fabric type plays a role in determining the virus’s lifespan on surfaces. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and spandex are known to retain germs longer than breathable materials like cotton. This means the virus is likely to cling to uniform pants, coats, and vests rather than a cotton shirt. The National Institute of Allergy and Infection Disease has also warned individuals the virus can remain active for two to three days on materials like plastic and stainless steel. Guards should consider wiping zippers, buttons, belts, and protective gear made of these materials with a disinfectant wipe while on the job or during their break.

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During these times it’s critical to keep front line guards safe and healthy. Though it’s unlikely for someone to catch COVID-19 from a surface or garment, following proper cleaning methods will certainly prevent its spread and give those on the front lines more peace of mind. For more information on proper cleaning uniform care, please reach out to the Canadian Fabricare Association.

Linley McConnell is the sales and marketing manager for Gibson’s Cleaners in Toronto.