Author Topic: Washing armor.  (Read 273 times)

Offline Watcher

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Washing armor.
« on: June 06, 2019, 08:39:30 PM »
Personally, I just toss my jackets and pants in the washing machine, armor and all.
Been doing this for years, the armor has been fine.  Usually I use a normal or gentle cycle, more so for the benefit of any Velcro pieces, and I use mild, unscented detergents, and I don't use any kind of softener.

Most manufacturers recommend removing the armor before washing, but fail to add any reason why.  D3O claims any kind of cleaner may damage the armor and to use only water, and if anyone the manufacturer should know, but I've washed my D3O several times and my last Icon jacket that uses D3O still protected me in my crash.
I still have that armor, though the jacket is long gone.  I transferred it to my leather jacket.  Compared to a new piece of D3O, my several years old, crashed in, washed with detergent probably dozens of times by now piece of armor feels, looks, bends, smells, tastes, etc exactly as it should.

So who's right and who's wrong?  Could it just be one of those "legalese" type things where they're like "don't wash it with anything but water" just in case someone damages it while cleaning it with brake cleaner or something and tries to get a refund?


As far as I'm concerned, I might stop outright recommending people to wash their gear armor and all, or recommend it with an asterisc, but will continue to do so myself until I experience a problem or get some actual evidence that it damages the armor.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2019, 08:41:17 PM by Watcher »
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Offline mr72

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Re: Washing armor.
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2019, 09:15:56 PM »
Well, Levi's tells us not to wash our jeans (much):
https://www.levi.com/US/en_US/blog/article/the-definitive-guide-to-denim/

And their CEO says to NEVER wash them:
https://www.cnn.com/2014/05/22/living/dont-wash-jeans-levis-ceo/index.html

Of course, competitor to Levi's, Carhartt, has no such warning. They simply tell you to not use bleach and wash them in cold water.
https://www.carhartt.com/content/caring-for-your-carhartt-pants?icid=carharttlife-content-caringforyourcarhartt-content-201709-allvisitors-2740x1040_onsite_Carhartt_Pants

Some would think this is an indication of quality and durability, and I would agree. Levi's are overpriced junk and I can attest they wear out fast if you wash them even semi-regularly. Even when I wear a pair four or five times between washes, I'm lucky to get 6 months out of them before they have holes worn in them. On the other hand, my Carhartt jeans are indestructible.

So maybe the recommendation from the mfg. not to wash their product is an indication of their position on durability.

BTW I never considered even removing the armor from my jackets or washing either the jacket or the armor. However, my mesh/textile jacket probably needs to see the washing machine after a year's use. I'm actually more worried about the breakdown of the fabric/mesh than I am of the armor. However, I'm sure I'll remove the armor before washing it and just wipe that down with a damp cloth. I have cleaned my leather jacket with a damp cloth many times and re-treated it with leather conditioner. I figure if you can do that with boots, you can do it with a leather riding jacket.

Offline Watcher

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Re: Washing armor.
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2019, 01:03:26 AM »
Well, Levi's tells us not to wash our jeans (much):
And their CEO says to NEVER wash them:
Of course, competitor to Levi's, Carhartt, has no such warning. They simply tell you to not use bleach and wash them in cold water.

Some would think this is an indication of quality and durability, and I would agree. Levi's are overpriced junk and I can attest they wear out fast if you wash them even semi-regularly. Even when I wear a pair four or five times between washes, I'm lucky to get 6 months out of them before they have holes worn in them. On the other hand, my Carhartt jeans are indestructible.

So maybe the recommendation from the mfg. not to wash their product is an indication of their position on durability.

I guess it's a good thing I don't have any Levis.  I wash my Bilt Iron-Worker's Mercury jeans probably weekly and my last pair is going on over a year.  The denim itself is a little faded and has a tear in the pocket where my wallet sits, but they are otherwise fine.


BTW I never considered even removing the armor from my jackets or washing either the jacket or the armor. However, my mesh/textile jacket probably needs to see the washing machine after a year's use.

Yeah, once a year is about the rate that I properly wash my jackets, or if I've been in the rain without my FroggToggs I'll at least machine rinse them, not having a rear fender gets a lot of nasty water "roost" that ends up all over the back of my helmet/jacket.
Once the season changes and I'll be hanging up my jacket for the next few months I'll wash it and set it away clean.
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Offline ShowBizWolf

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Re: Washing armor.
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2019, 03:41:07 PM »
When I wash my Joe Rocket textile jacket I've always washed it in cold and hung it up to dry. Always took the armor out each time and it can be a little bit of a pain! Idk where I got the idea I had to remove it cuz it certainly doesn't say that on the tag (the tag says "surface wash only" IIRC). Maybe I won't take the armor out next time  :)
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Offline Bluesmudge

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Re: Washing armor.
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2019, 06:58:33 PM »
I just ride in the rain.

Offline Watcher

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Re: Washing armor.
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2019, 03:14:01 AM »
So since my last post I directly messaged D3O on Facebook asking if it was true that you can't wash the armor.

First response was, as expected, that it's not recommended and to just use water or wipe clean.

I then responded with essentially "in that case, I goofed and laundered my motorcycle jacket at least half a dozen times by now.  How can I tell if the armor is damaged?"

The response came in two parts.  The first was basically "... I don't know.  But let me find out."

The second, a day or two later, was, and this is a direct quote:

"Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.
Unfortunately, there's no way for us to know for certain how several washes could have affected the performance.
Our advice would be to check the armor for cracks or rips. However, even if there's no obvious problem, it's impossible for us to say for sure that they are fine to keep using.
Thank you"


Without saying much that's very telling, but there's two ways to interpret this.

Way 1:
Like a helmet, there could be structural damage to the material that could render it less effective that isn't easily seen or identified, and it should be replaced if unsure.

That's all fine and good for something like polystyrene, that can be crushed and it won't "reinflate" back to its original form, but seems less critical or even flat out not the case with something like foam-rubber, which isn't exactly what D3O is but is essentially what D3O is.


Way 2:
We don't know what kind of damage detergent can cause to the armor because we haven't tested it enough, or at all, to see any actual repercussions, but the "boys in the lab" said that chemical cleaners can damage the armor and we took that as chemical cleaners will damage the armor.

In which case, so long as I don't see any identifiable damage to the armor, it's safe to launder, as I've been doing for years and will continue to do until further notice.

In all I think the general "remove before washing" suggestion is more of a CYA type of thing.  "If there's a 0.001% chance that some guy will pour a whole bottle of bleach in with the wash and turns the armor into silly-puddy, breaks his elbow falling, and tries to sue us, let's just not recommend any washing at all."
« Last Edit: June 11, 2019, 03:34:21 AM by Watcher »
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