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 apparel achieves a UPF rating are through A) fabric blends, or B) chemical treatments. At Rayward Apparel, we use the chemical-free option when a suitable fabric exists that meets our demands. Other times, we may utilize chemical treatments when fibers alone aren’t enough for the combination of protection and performance demanded.
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. When possible, this is how we achieve our UPF values (versus using chemical applications). This way, the UPF 50+ clothing will maintain that value for the life of the garment, and can’t wash out of the product.
There are a variety of different chemical and oil infusions that can help boost a fiber’s UPF value. At Rayward Apparel, this is used when achieving a UPF 50+ rating for an untreated fabric blend would require the fabric to be prohibitively heavy or hot. In these rare cases, safe chemical treatments can be used to still achieve a UPF 50+ rating, but with a fabrics that perform as needed.
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, and fit. 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, the shirt allows more UV light to pass through. So while the UPF does not necessarily “wash out,” the UV protection rating will eventually drop over time. Higher quality shirts with more durable fabrics (like our viscose from bamboo) are designed to withstand the harshest environments and maintain a UPF rating for the life of the shirt.
Simple Recommendations to Make Your UPF 50+ Clothing Last:
- Don’t wring out your sun protection clothing. This can permanently stretch the fibers and lower the UPF rating.
- Do not bleach because it can damage the fibers. Bleach is great, but 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.
To learn more about our apparel and to view our current line of UPF 50+ clothing, check out our shop!