PPE Storage, Care, and Cleaning

Topic Progress:

There are many types of PPE, but for the sake of simplicity they can be divided up into categories to describe the basics of care and cleaning. These are general instructions and are never meant to replace OEM recommendations. Always defer to the OEM for care of your equipment. Treat all PPE and rescue equipment with respect and care – your life depends on it.

 

PPE storageThe number one consideration for all your PPE’s storage is ventilation. Storing even slightly damp PPE with poor ventilation for a very short period can result in corrosion, mildew, mold, etc that will at the least reduce the life of the product and at worst, could result in the need to retire the PPE.

 

Soft Goods (textile products):

Such as ropes, webbing, harness straps, and lanyards.

Storage

  • Store clean, dry, well ventilated and away from heat sources.
  • Limit exposure to UV rays (do not store or dry in the direct sun)
  • Do not expose to harsh chemicals, especially bleach, fuels or battery acid
  • Avoid contact with bug spray, sunscreen, bodily fluids, and food
  • Keep clean, away from mud, sand or other abrasive materials
  • Do not stand or walk on soft goods
  • Keep away from open flame, including cigarettes

ropeCare/Cleaning

  • Wash in clean, lukewarm tap water (86°F / 30°C max)
  • When needed, wash in lukewarm soapy water and rinse throughly with clean tap water.
  • Use only mild, non-detergent soaps, ideally ph neutral. Never use solvents, stain removers, degreasers, etc. Consider a product specific soap such as “rope wash”. Consult with OEM for approved soaps.
  • Use a soft bristled brush as needed for difficult spots (i.e dirt/mud on harness, chin strap of helmets).
  • A fan is very useful in speeding the drying process.
  • Do not use a heater to speed up the drying process.
  • Do not use a high pressure washer.

 

carabinersHard Goods (metal):

Such as carabiners, harness buckles, lobster claws, trolleys, pulleys, and belay spools

Storage

  • Store in a dry, well ventilated place
  • Keep clean, away from mud, sand or other abrasive materials

Care/Cleaning

  • Hard goods can typically be wiped clean. If necessary they can be rinsed in fresh water, or if needed washed in lukewarm soapy water. Be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly.
  • Use only mild, non-detergent soaps, ideally ph neutral. Never use solvents, stain removers, degreasers, etc.
  • Use a soft bristled brush as needed for difficult spots.

Lubrication

trolleysCarabiners

  • Lubricate hinges to restore spring action.
  • After lubrication, wipe excess oil clear with a rag
  • Do not use WD40 as this will attract dirt
  • Use a 3-in-1 oil or what the OEM recommends

Pulleys/Trolleys

  • Sealed bearings do not require lubrication
  • Check with OEM for specifics

Sanding/Filing Burrs

  • Consult with the OEM for tolerances of material loss and approved maintenance of sharp edges.
  • Generally speaking most OEM’s allow for using fine grit sandpaper to round sharp edges or burrs to make them friendlier to interacting soft goods. Typically, total material loss shall be no more than 0.1mm.

Hand labeling a piece of equipment.Marking

  • Consult with the OEM for approved marking strategies.
  • Generally speaking, most OEM’s allow for engraving unique identifiers with an engravng pen on the frame next to serial numbers is approved. Depth of engraving must be less than 0.1mm.
  • Do not stamp or punch.
  • You may use tape or a small amount of paint (paint pen or metal writing paint). Be sure to put in a place that will not interfere with intended operation of PPE.

 

Helmets:

helmet storageStorage

  • See above storage criteria for soft and hard goods.
  • Consider hanging system to maximize ventilation.
  • Do not sit on or compress
  • Do not put stickers/paint/marker directly on helmet shell. Stickers can hide defects and solvents could damage integrity of the shell. Use only stickers supplied by the OEM.

Care/Cleaning

  • Consider routine disinfecting/cleaning with a cloth lightened moisened by rubbing alcohol. Do not submerge helmet in alcohol.
  • Routinely wash in lukewarm water (86°F / 30°C max)
  • When needed, wash in lukewarm soapy water and rinse throughly with clean tap water.
  • Use only mild, non-detergent soaps, ideally ph neutral. Never use solvents, stain removers, degreasers, etc. Consult with OEM for approved soaps.
  • Use a soft bristled brush as needed for difficult spots.
  • A fan is very useful in speeding the drying process.
  • Do not use a heater to speed up the drying process.
  • Do not use a high pressure washer

Marking

  • Consult OEM for approved marking strategy
  • Generally speaking, marking is only recommended on comfort components and not on safety components.
  • Do not write/paint directly on shell of helmet.

Repair

  • Many helmets have replaceable parts including but not limited to: comfort foam components, buckles, headlamp holders, etc.
  • Consider repairing helmets to OEMs recommendations before retiring.

Transport

Care should be taken when transporting all PPE. It is always preferable to have PPE inside of a clean container during transport to protect against potential contaminates (i.e. never put directly into a truck bed). Beware of temperature extremes from leaving PPE in a hot car, or traveling by train, plane, and boat. If you ever have doubt about improper transport of your PPE, retire it.

 

Leave a Comment