Do Bleach and Fabric Softener Really Harm FR and AR Fabrics?

ArcWear staff performed a limited study to evaluate the effects of both hydrogen and chlorine bleach and fabric softener on a common cotton-nylon fabric in a controlled laboratory setting. The study was published as a Selected Technical Paper in the ASTM International Performance of Protective Clothing and Equipment: 10th Volume, Risk Reduction Through Research and Testing.  The outcome is clear on chlorine bleach but not fabric softener. Hard water could make the results worse but with soft water, the chlorine bleach reacted and disabled the FR treatment between 50 and 100 washes. ArcWear thinks a study of hard water with real wash conditions like we did would benefit the industry.  The key learning is that manufacturers recommendations to avoid chlorine bleach is warranted but a few washes does not immediately destroy FR in a home laundry situation.

The article is available for purchase ($25) and the abstract can be read from ASTM. Have questions about the study? Interested in partnering to continue the study? Reach out!

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