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Disposable Versus Reusable Protective Clothing

protective clothingOver the past few years, there’s been a growing debate over the pros and cons of disposable versus reusable protective clothing. While critics of disposable clothing point to growing landfill sites, supporters cite its convenience and reliability.

But before you decide whether single- or multiple-use protective clothing is the best choice for your workplace, you should consider a number of factors:

  1. Application
  2. Cost
  3. Environmental impact

In this blog post, we take a closer look at each of these factors.

1. Application

The most important thing you must consider when deciding between disposable and multiple use protective clothing is how you’re going to use it. For some applications, single-use protective clothing is the obvious choice. For example, if you’re working with infectious materials, have a distributed workforce or don’t have access to laundering facilities, then you’ll probably prefer single-use clothing.

Other applications demand multiple-use clothing. For example, flame resistant clothing is so technical, so it’s not economically feasible to produce a single-use version.

Whatever type of protective clothing you choose, you must make sure it will protect your workers the way it should.

2. Cost

The economics of disposable clothing is straightforward. You buy it, use it and then dispose of it.

The economics of multiple use clothing is more complex. Often, you can choose whether to buy or rent it. Also, you’ll need to launder, sterilize (if applicable) and carefully maintain your clothing, and you may choose to outsource these tasks as well.

You may also need a system to track washing cycles. With some multiple-use clothing, protective barriers start to degrade after a number of washings.

3. Environmental Impact

While multi-use protective clothing may seem the obvious environmental advantage, you should consider all stages in the protective clothing lifecycle for a balanced assessment, including:

  • Impact of manufacturing – How much energy is needed to produce the clothing? What is the environmental impact of the source materials?
  • Impact of maintenance – How will multiple-use clothing be transported to and from laundering facilities? How far away are the facilities? What type and amount of detergents are used to clean them?
  • Impact of disposal – Can you recycle the clothing? What portion goes to landfills?

Given all these factors, there is no “right” choice. What makes sense for your organization may not make sense for another. In fact, many organizations use both single- and multiple-use protective clothing for different applications.

Disposable and Multiple Use Clothing at Select Safety Sales

To see our selection of disposable and reusable protective clothing, visit our protective clothing page. We carry a good selection of disposable clothing, such as coveralls, hairnets and caps. We also have different types of reusable clothing, such as flame resistant clothing, welding gear, rainwear and cold weather gear.

If you need help selecting the best protective clothing for your employees, whether single- or multiple-use, contact our safety experts at 866-864-3495. You can also our online chat or email us at sales@selectsafetysales.com.

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