Sun protection wear needs some special care because they are chemically pre-treated to block UV rays and the fabric composition includes spandex (a delicate yarn) which gives them a good stretch. A good quality sun protection wear would also be treated for moisture-wicking to keep the wearer cool and anti-microbacterial to prevent odour from perspiration. Good care will make your sun protection wear last longer which means better retention of the UPF effectiveness, holding the shape of the garment, and keeping the garment looking pristine.
Maintenance of your sun protection wear or for that matter, any UV block clothing need not be difficult. Just remember these 5 Easy Tips :
- Preventing stains
- Extending fabric life – maintaining the weave and stretchiness of the fabric
- Retaining effectiveness of the UPF treatment
- Removing stains to retain the freshness of your garment
- Re-juvenating the UPF life of your Sun Protection Wear
1. Preventing Stains
Sunscreens stain your clothing leaving yellow patches. And nothing ages clothing faster than these unsightly patches. So, the first step is avoidance. It would be much easier to keep your clothing clean in the first place, rather than trying to wash stains off with strong detergents. A good example of easy avoidance is with Sun Protection Vests – these tend to have tight collars which rub against your face when you are putting them on or taking them off. To avoid stains when wearing clothings with a tight collar, remember the following :
a. Timing : Put them on first before applying sunscreen on your face. After your game, cleanse off the sunscreen and wash your face before taking off your vest.
b. Facing : Turn your vest front to back before putting on and taking off. In case any sunscreen touches your UV-clothing, even if you find it difficult to remove the stains completely, stains on the back of the vest are less obvious.
c. Masks : If you tend to have sunscreen on your face touching your shoulder during your golf swings or any other activities, wear a sun protection mask over your face. This increases UV block for your face and keep stains on the shoulder areas at bay.
2. Extending Fabric Life Span
The UPF of fabrics also depends on how tight the fabric weave is, the tighter the weave, the better the UV block. Spandex in the fabric is more delicate than cotton or polyester – excessive pulling (usually during laundry) will damage the yarns causing your garments to lose their shapes and worse, allowing UV rays to penetrate through the broken areas. Do and don’ts for your laundry :
a. Hand-wash : It is strongly recommended that you hand-wash your sun protection wear, using a mild detergent and cold water. Gently knead the garment and rub stains with the detergent if necessary. Do not wring or pull the fabric. If you need to machine wash, put them in a net laundry bag and set machine on the gentle/delicate wash cycle.
b. Dry-cleaning : Do not dry-clean your sun protection wear. The chemicals used in the process will damage the fabric and may leave an odour in the garment.
c. Drying : It is best to squeeze out the water, then towel dry and put out to dry, preferably on a flat surface. Note that sun protection wear treated for moisture-wicking are also quick-dry so drying should not be an issue. Avoid spin-drying with the machine. If absolutely necessary to do so, put them in a net laundry bag and put machine on gentle spin cycle.
d. Dryer : Do not put your garment in the dryer. The heat will cause the spandex to shrink.
e. Sunlight : Avoid exposure to strong direct sunlight. Sunlight discolor clothings. White clothing turning a shade of grey is unavoidable over a period of time. That’s why StellarGolf ‘s white range of sun protection wear is an ultra-white shade so that discoloration is less obvious. Our garment retain the white shade far longer. You will see this differentiation after owning a Stellargolf item for a while.
f. Ironing : Fabric with spandex are usually wrinkle-free. Very low heat warm iron only if absolutely necessary. Avoid direct heat by putting a layer of fabric between iron and your sun protection wear.
3. Maximising Effectiveness of UPF Treatment
For sun protection wear, the strength of the UV block is most dependent on the intensity of the UPF treatment, which coats the fabric with a chemical that absorbs and disperse UV rays. When any other chemicals is layered onto the fabric, such as softener, sunscreens and other additives that stick to the fabric, it covers this chemical and renders it ineffective. The good news is that once the extra chemical is washed off, UPF effectiveness will be restored. Hence remember :
a. Laundry Additives : Do not use softener on UV block clothing in your wash.
b. Sunscreen : Do not apply sunscreen on to sun protection wear. If you want to reinforce your sun protection wear with a sunscreen, apply it on your skin first before putting on your sun protection wear.
4. Removing Stains
Remove stains as soon as possible to avoid the stains from setting into the fabric. Sunscreen and mud can create nasty stains that are hard to remove.
a. Avoid chlorinated detergents / bleaches on spandex items. Gently rub the stained area with a mild detergent. Color fast bleach which is not chlorinated is safe for the spandex, unless otherwise specified on the garment’s care tag.
b. For very stubborn stain, use a non-chlorinated stain remover.
c. Personal tip : To clean my white face mask, I rub the sunscreen stain with a cheap facial cleanser, then wash off with a mild detergent.
5. Re-juvenating UPF Effectiveness of your Sun Protection Wear
The general standard for UPF life span of fabrics is about 50 washes. If your sun protection wear is still in good condition with no broken yarns, you can re-juvenate the UPF effectiveness with laundry additives such as SunGuard. Some of these claims to provide up to UPF30 and last up to 20 washes. Please check labels before proceeding.
Follow the simple steps above and you will get to extend the shelf life of your Sun Protection Wear for a much longer period of time.