Does UPF Wash Out Of Clothing?

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Will UPF wash out? Washing Machines.

So you’ve gone ahead and bought some UPF 50+ clothing, but what happens when it goes through the wash? Will any of that sun protection value be ‘washed out’ or will it keep protecting you at the same level? 

Depends On How The UPF Value Was Initially Achieved

The two most popular ways different apparel companies achieve a UPF rating are through 1) Properly constructing and designing a shirt with sun protection in mind and 2) Using a chemical on the clothing or threads with a chemical to boost it’s UPF rating. At Rayward Apparel we always recommend the first, the chemical free option, as it is not something that can ever ‘wash out’.

Design

The fabric design and composition plays a big part in the UPF rating. Some of these factors include the shirt weight, fabric blend, color, fit, and more. But ultimately, you want to make sure you are buying a product that has achieved it’s UPF value through these means, versus using chemical coatings to achieve it’s rating. If designed correctly, UPF 50+ clothing will always maintain that value and will not wash out of the product.

Chemicals

Gas Mask, Chemicals Impacting UPF

There are a variety of different chemical and oil infusions that can help boost a fiber’s UPF value. At Rayward Apparel, we generally disagree with this strategy as we think it opens a whole new set of potential issues:

  • Bad for the environment
  • Depending on the chemical, it’s possible it washes out of the fibers
  • Introduces more possibility for allergic reactions depending on the individual wearing it

Product Quality

As mentioned above, a lot of factors go into the design of a sun protective shirt to ensure it keeps you protected from harmful UV rays. Some of these factors include the shirt weight, fabric composition, color, fit, and more. But at the end of the day, the quality of the shirt plays a big part in maintaining its UPF rating – especially if it’s being worn and washed often. 

As your clothing starts to age it naturally becomes a little worn down. So you may not be ‘washing out’ the sun protection rating of your UPF 50+ clothing, but it’s possible the rating drops as  the shirt ages. This is especially true with a low quality shirt.  Depending on the durability of your clothing the fabric composition may be compromised after only a couple washes. In other words, as the threads thin out it allows more UV light to pass through. So while the UPF does not necessarily wash out, if you have a low quality shirt the UPF protection rating will start to drop over time. Higher quality shirts and more durable construction are designed to withstand the harshest environments and maintain a UPF rating for the life of the shirt – as is the case with all Rayward Apparel products. 

Simple Recommendations to keep your UPF 50+ clothing lasting as long as possible:

Clothes Line with UPF 50+ Clothing
  • Don’t wring out your sun protection clothing, this can permanently stretch the fibers which can lower the UPF rating.
  • Do not bleach. Even you are bleaching a white shirt and won’t cause any discoloration, it’s possible it damages the fibers. Bleach is great, however it’s a fairly harsh chemical on clothing. It’s best to keep your UV protective shirts intact. 
  • Wash your clothing in cold water. Warm and hot water is more likely to shrink your fabric which could in turn shorten the lifespan of the UPF clothing.

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