Fill your tub with hot water and toss your contaminated clothing inside. Wearing protective gloves, stir the clothing in the water to loosen the particles. Then, put the pre-rinsed clothing in the washer without any other clothes. Wash as usual with laundry detergent.
Prevention is the best solution for every problem. We suggest you keep a disposable suit in your garage for such exposure.
Nothing works perfectly, but any type of prevention decreases exposure and saves time and headaches as you can dispose of your clothing without cleaning it.
Remember that it’s hard to put on a disposable suit without getting particles inside the suit. So, we highly suggest buying a few second-hand disposable suits and tossing each after every exposure.
If you have already been exposed to fiberglass, you can remove the particles with a cold water rinse and vinegar, among other household products we’ll list below. Then, soak the clothes in hot water overnight.
The hot water will dissolve most of the fiberglass before you launder your clothes in the washer. Now, let’s learn more about fiberglass and cleaning methods.
What is Fiberglass?
Fiberglass is a fortified plastic material made of woven fabric embedded with glass fibers (randomly laid across each other and glued together). When mixed with resin, fiberglass makes a super durable composite.
When people work with fiberglass, they risk getting particles on their clothing. They usually have a yellow, pink, or white color, but they’re hard to notice since they’re very small.
The worst part? When these particles get onto your clothes, they poke into your skin and cause itchiness for hours or even days.
Therefore, always make sure you have protective clothing that covers your entire body when handling fiberglass. Also, wear goggles, a face mask, and gloves.
What Does Fiberglass Look Like On Clothes?
Whenever you get your hands on fiberglass items such as insulation panels, pipes, or fiberglass sheets, you’re at risk of getting fiberglass particles onto your clothing.
They’re light yellow, white, or pink. The bad thing is that they’re hardly noticeable.
Also, they’re airborne, so they can land on different surfaces nearby. You must be very careful when handling fiberglass-contaminated clothes, as they can land on the skin and cause discomfort.
Although you can’t see fiberglass with a naked human eye, it’s still easy to notice when you run your hands over your clothes.
If you feel anything sharp or prickly, you probably have fiberglass particles stuck to your clothing. Moreover, if you have skin sensitivities, they might even worsen your allergies.
These particles make the skin itchy because they’re small, almost like dust, and can move through your clothing onto your skin, making you feel uncomfortable and can even cause health issues if you accidentally inhale them.
They can get into your lungs, causing severe respiratory problems. Also, inhalation of fiberglass particles or coming in direct contact with fiberglass can result in skin, nose, throat, and eye infections.
Coarser shards aren’t as hard to deal with as particles since the latter can’t be noticed that easily.
How to Remove Fiberglass From Clothes: 5 Easy Steps
First and foremost, after you’re done working with fiberglass, you should remove all the clothes you were wearing in a spot where the particles/splinters won’t attach to other fabrics.
Also, don’t come into direct contact with anyone, as you can easily transfer the fiberglass particles from your clothes to theirs.
So, remove everything and keep your clothes in a separate place from your laundry. For instance, don’t drape your working gear on a chair or sofa. Otherwise, the fibers can spread.
Now, let’s learn how to remove fiberglass from clothes in 5 easy steps and get them ready for your next project.
Put all your contaminated clothing in a plastic garbage bag after removing it instead of having it draped on your hook or hanger, where it can contaminate other items or people in your household.
Then, mix 3 parts water and 1 part vinegar in a large bowl or bucket. You can even use your tub if it’s free for use.
Soak your clothing for about 15 minutes before washing as usual. Wear gloves and stir the garments while they’re soaking to shake up the fiberglass particles.
After soaking, drain the water or spill the bucket or bowl into your toilet carefully, so you don’t contaminate anything nearby.
Transfer all the soaked clothing exposed to fiberglass particles to the washer and wash as usual with your favorite laundry detergent.
Always check the care tag on the clothes to see what they suggest. Don’t add any other clothing items or laundry to the load. Otherwise, you risk contamination.
Lastly, discard the plastic bag where the clothing was kept before soaking.
If you’re still worried that there might be fiberglass particles still present in the items, wash a second time without removing the clothes from the washer.
The clothes aren’t the only thing you should be worried about after being exposed to fiberglass. Take care of yourself as well.
Make sure you wash your hands and face thoroughly with soap or take a hot shower after touching contaminated items.
You can dry the clothing either in the dryer or on a clothesline. Lastly, don’t forget to run a wash and rinse cycle on the washer itself without soap.
That way, you will remove any residue from the drum and prevent your next load of clothes from being contaminated with those sneaky particles.
What Can Dissolve Fiberglass?
If you were working with fiberglass for a long period, there’s a high chance that your clothing is covered in its particles.
In this case, a simple rinse won’t be enough to remove all the particles as fiberglass consists of plastic resin and glass filament. The resin part keeps it in shape, so it’s usually difficult to remove the particles from clothes.
Still, they’re not invincible. You can put the contaminated clothes into chemicals and solutions that can dissolve and quickly break apart the fiberglass.
Some of those chemicals include apple cider vinegar, acetone, and alcohol. So, let’s take a closer look at each and understand how they work.
Apple Cider Vinegar
As already mentioned throughout this article, apple cider vinegar does a great job of dissolving fiberglass particles. The best part? It’s the perfect alternative to using dangerous chemicals that will potentially ruin your clothes.
It’s one of the people’s favorite cleaning products, even for showering. So, if you feel your skin has been exposed to these dangerous particles, you can also wash with apple cider vinegar for better results.
Rinse with apple cider vinegar before the end of your shower, but keep in mind that vinegar has a strong smell that doesn’t go away quickly, so make sure you rinse with cold water, and your favorite body wash before heading out.
Acetone, another chemical that people use as a nail polish remover, can dissolve fiberglass.
Although it isn’t as effective at breaking down fiberglass, it’s still excellent for removing marks or stains on fiberglass products.
Alcohol, also known as ethanol, makes a powerful chemical that can quickly break down fiberglass products with a polyester resin.
Make sure you’re using pure ethanol that’s not mixed with any other chemicals, as it would reduce the chances of effective cleaning.
Cleaning Methods Suggested by Fiberglass Companies
Many companies that make fiberglass products announce statements in their required MSDS (Material Handling Data Sheets) recommending that clothing be washed separately in hot water until the particles loosen up.
However, there aren’t any specific recommendations about soaps or detergents and methods.
On the other hand, Forums suggest using rough-bristled brushes to remove some of the particles before washing as usual in the washer. Others say adding strips of tapes or other adhesives can help lift the particles.
Again, we recommend thoroughly washing the washer itself after washing clothes with fiberglass.
How clean you can get contaminated clothes also depends on how much you were exposed to disrupted fiberglass.
Most fiberglass projects include working with the composite form, which is tight and has little fiber shedding. Therefore, a regular wash cycle or two can be enough to clean your clothes completely.
FAQs on How to Remove Fiberglass From Clothes
Will fiberglass eventually come out of skin?
Fiberglass will eventually come out of the skin, but this might take a while. Note that the particles can transfer to other people’s skin you come in direct contact with. And that’s not a good thing, as it causes discomfort and irritation.
How do you relieve fiberglass itch?
Take a hot shower using a hair conditioner to soften the particles. Rinse thoroughly so that all the particles come out of your skin. You can also use a string of adhesive tape to remove the embedded particles.