Designing a Great Uniform Program Is Easier Than Ever
The latest textile technologies adaptable for workwear are making it easier than ever to develop a great uniform program for your employees. And expert help is available to understand today’s innovative textile options and make the best choices.
Uniform service companies (those who rent, lease, and sell uniforms) provide assistance to customers that goes beyond simply providing them garments, picking up dirty uniforms, washing them, and delivering clean ones. They work closely with customers to help them choose uniform fabrics that will best meet their objectives, offering performance-related information, assessments of the impact of job activities on fabrics, and recommendations. The Uniform and Textile Service Association (UTSA) is an international trade organization that represents these companies and works to convey information about new uniform textile options.
New Choices: Beyond 65/35 Blends
In recent years, 65 percent cotton/35 percent polyester blends have been popular uniform fabrics for active workers. These blends offer durability that can enable them to last two to three times longer than 100 percent cotton. Blends developed for the uniform market have excellent soil release properties built into them, making it possible to eliminate even the worst stains. Most employers like seeing their workers in fabrics that are less prone to wrinkling.
Blends may be less breathable than 100 percent cotton, however, and their reduced softness may frustrate workers whose tasks require a great deal of movement.
New textiles being introduced now into the uniform marketplace combine the advantages of both all-cotton fabrics and cotton/poly blends. Known as hydrophilic fabrics, they have become familiar to consumers under brand names such as Nike’s Dri-FIT.
Hydrophilic fabrics used in work apparel are 100 percent polyester knits. These are not the polyesters of the 1970s. These fabrics use spun yarns that give a truly cotton-like feel, creating soft garments that people like to wear. Hydrophilic fabrics have been well-received by athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in large part because of their moisture management systems. Perspiration is moved away from the skin and evaporates, enhancing comfort and odor resistance because without available moisture, odor-causing bacteria cannot survive in large numbers.
Color-retention, durability and wrinkle resistance of hydrophilic fabrics are as good as or better than the same properties in 65/35 blends. Soil release properties built into hydrophilic uniform fabrics ensure that these new uniforms can be kept very clean.
New, wicking versions of Lycra®, and pre-washed denim are among other fabrics of increasing interest to today’s employers seeking new options for their uniform programs. Whichever fabrics you choose, however, remember the following help keep carpet cleaning and restoration technicians looking great on-the-job:
- Choose uniform colors based on the most likely stains or soiling. For many carpet cleaning specialists, the most frequent uniform stain is a cleaning product. If your cleaning product is white, a white uniform could be a great choice;
- Incorporate your company’s logo, colors and other unique elements into uniforms as much as possible. This will help market your company and develop brand awareness of it among those who see your employees. Also, in today’s security-conscious era, it will help your customers easily identify your workers. Among respondents to the survey conducted for UTSA by J.D. Powers, both business buyers (87 percent) and individual consumers (83 percent) felt that ease of identification was a crucial factor when utilizing service providers in any specialty.
Visit www.uniforminfo.com to learn more or to find a UTSA member by location.
Mary Anne Dolbeare is director of public affairs and marketing at the Uniform Textile and Service Association. She can be contacted at email@example.com.