Washing Pesticide Contaminated Clothing

Posted: September 2, 2011

Farmers know how important it is to be careful when using pesticides. We all strive to use the least toxic, effective option, read the label and follow the directions, calibrate, measure carefully and wear the required personal protective equipment.

But after you finish making a pesticide application, it is also important to be careful with the clothing you were wearing.  If you throw contaminated clothing in with the rest of the family's laundry, you risk exposing your family to that pesticide.  Also, if you do not clean your clothing properly, you risk exposing yourself the next time you wear it.

Here is a list of tips that should help you be safe.  You might want to clip this list out and hang it by your washing machine.

  • Discard clothing if it becomes soaked with a highly toxic pesticide.
  •  Do not wear contaminated clothing or boots into the house to avoid bringing pesticide residue into your living space.
  • Take protective clothing off inside out as you remove them to keep most of the pesticide inside, and away from the surface that will be handled by the person doing the laundry.
  • Pre-rinse clothing and boots outside using a hose or a designated and marked washtub.
  • Wash goggles, respirator (remove the charcoal filter first), gloves and boots in hot, soapy water after each use.  Store clean protective equipment away from where pesticides are stored.
  •   Designate a separate hamper to identify contaminated clothing so the person who does the wash knows it needs special attention.
  •   Make sure the person who does the laundry knows what pesticide was used, and reads the label for any special instructions for cleaning.
  •  Keep unlined rubber gloves in the wash room to handle the pesticide-soiled clothing.  Carefully wash the outside of the gloves after every use and only use them for this purpose.
  • Launder pesticide contaminated clothing the same day to avoid having it sit around where family members could come into contact with it.
  •  Wash contaminated clothing separately from the rest of the family laundry.
  •  Use hot water.
  • Use heavy-duty liquid detergent to remove oil-based pesticides. (Emulsifiable concentrates are oil-based.)
  • Do not overfill the washing machine.  Wash only a few garments at a time.
  •  Double rinse the load.
  •  Re-wash the contaminated clothing two or three times if necessary.
  •  Clean the machine after you wash the load by running one complete cycle on empty, using hot water and detergent.
  •  Line-dry the clothing to avoid contaminating the clothes dryer.