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Proper Laundering for Insecticide-Contaminated Clothing

March 13, 2017

Individuals working with insecticides must take important steps to prevent exposure to themselves and others. This includes reading the label, wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), exercising caution when mixing and applying insecticides, disposing of used PPE, and laundering potentially contaminated clothing.

Handling Contaminated Clothing
Although safety precautions are used to prevent clothing from becoming contaminated, there is still the risk of clothing having some insecticide residues present. For this reason, it is important to handle the clothing worn during an application as if it is definitely contaminated. In instances where insecticides were spilled onto clothes, remove them, and throw them away immediately. Although proper laundering can wash out small amounts of insecticide residue, laundering clothes with larger amounts may result in contamination of the washing machine, yourself, and others.

Prior to laundering contaminated clothing first read the product label to determine if there are any special instructions or limitations. Potentially contaminated clothing should be removed prior to entering the home in an area that can be easily cleaned to decontaminate it. When handling contaminated clothing, wear chemical resistant gloves that are rated as highly resistant to the insecticide that was applied (Insecticide safety: what gloves are right for the job?). Lightly contaminated clothes should be laundered immediately, and only with other potentially contaminated clothing. If clothes are not washed immediately the potential to remove insecticide residuals is diminished. If contaminated clothing must be stored do so outside of the house in a sealed plastic garbage bag or plastic storage bin. Do not was these clothes with the rest of the household laundry.

Washing & Laundering
Wash the clothes in the maximum amount of hot water using a highly concentrated or heavy-duty detergent. Once the clothes are washed DO NOT place them into the dryer. Even after washing there may still be insecticide residues present in the fibers of the clothes. The heat from the dryer will remove the residue but the dryer will then be contaminated. After washing, the clothes should be line dried. Before washing any other clothes, it is important to run the washing machine for a second cycle on empty with detergent. This will remove any remaining insecticide residues.

Source: Adam J. Varenhorst, South Dakota State University