When working with materials like fiberglass sheets and insulation panels, you’re bound to get some fiberglass particles stuck to your clothes. And since these particles are very thin and small, it can be quite tricky to identify and remove them. So, what’s the trick?
To remove the tiny particles of fiberglass from your clothes, you can use a soft, dry brush; wash the clothes in a machine with laundry detergent; or dissolve the particles with acetone, alcohol, or apple cider vinegar. The best method depends on the severity of the situation.
As you can see, there are several options when it comes to removing fiberglass from your clothes. Let’s take a closer look at what fiberglass is, how it gets into clothes, and the different ways to remove it.
What Is Fiberglass?
Fiberglass is fiber-reinforced plastic made using glass fiber. It can be molded into any size or shape depending on what you want to use it for. There are different kinds and forms of fiberglass, like fiberglass cloth, fiberglass tape, E-glass, C-glass, and A-glass.
Fiberglass is mostly used for insulation in homes, but it’s also used in other industries like power generation, auto manufacturing, and food processing, because of its dimensional stability and mechanical strength. It also doesn’t rot very quickly and is much stronger than steel.
How Fiberglass Makes Its Way Into Your Clothes
Fiberglass particles usually stick to your clothes when you work with materials like fiberglass sheets and insulation panels. Since they’re very small and thin, you can’t see them immediately, but they do have a distinct light yellow, pink, or white color. Their edges are also sharp and jagged, making it easier for them to stick to clothes.
Airborne fiberglass can also land on surfaces near you or on your clothes. Similarly, if you work near someone working with fiberglass, the shards can latch onto your clothes and also make you itch.
An easy way to figure out if there are fiberglass particles in your clothes is to run your hands over them. If you notice a prickly or sharp texture, that means these particles are likely present on your clothes.
You can also identify them if they prick your skin and make you uncomfortable. If this is the case, make sure you immediately change clothes since fiberglass can cause a painful rash.
The good news is that it’s easy to wash fiberglass pieces from your clothes. The key is doing it as soon as possible so that they’re easier to get rid of. Also, make sure you don’t mix fiberglass-laden clothes with other clothes since the shards can transfer from one fabric to another.
Can Fiberglass Dissolve?
Plastic resin tends to stick to solids, making these fiberglass particles harder to remove if they’re left in the clothes for too long. Luckily, you can get rid of them by dissolving them.
Some materials that dissolve fiberglass include:
Alcohol and ethanol, in particular, can help dissolve fiberglass. However, for it to work, you’ll first have to ensure that the fiberglass item is made with polyester resin.
You should also ensure that you use pure ethanol. If it’s mixed with some other chemicals, it might not work very well.
Acetone is typically used in nail polish removers and can also be used to clean fiberglass. However, it’s not as effective at dissolving fiberglass as it is in removing stains on fiberglass products.
How Do You Remove Fiberglass From Clothing?
If you’ve got fiberglass particles stuck on your clothing, here are a few ways to remove them.
When taking off clothes with fiberglass, make sure you do it in an open area where the particles won’t fly off and attach themselves to other fabrics. And, as mentioned earlier, keep them away from other clothes so that the particles don’t spread.
Before you start, make sure you take care of yourself first. Wash your body and your hair with a gentle body wash and shampoo. Once you’re sure that there are no particles stuck to you, you can start dealing with your clothes.
And if you can’t take care of the clothes immediately, place them in a separate bag until you can wash them.
Using a Brush
For this method, you need warm water, a soft brush, and latex gloves. Here’s what you have to do:
- In an open area, take the clothes out of the plastic bag you initially kept them in.
- Use a dry and soft brush to remove fiberglass pieces from the clothes.
- To make sure there are no more fiberglass particles in the clothing, add 3 cups of warm water into a tub or basin and throw your clothes in it.
- Allow it to sit for around 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, wear latex gloves and rub the clothes to loosen any fiberglass particles still stuck to them. Make sure you’re careful since the particles can prick the skin.
- When you’re done, take the clothes out of the basin and dispose of the water.
- Wash your clothes like you normally do.
Using Your Washing Machine
An easier way to get rid of fiberglass particles is to run your clothes in a washing machine. It’s not only time efficient, but it’s also less of a hassle. In this case, too, make sure you take the clothes off in an open area so that the fiberglass particles don’t fly off and stick to other things.
For this method, all you need is laundry detergent and cold water. Put the clothes inside the machine and make sure they’re the only ones inside since the particles can transfer to other clothes.
Then follow these steps:
- Put a sufficient amount of laundry detergent and water into the machine. Ideally, you should add one tablespoon of detergent for every 4 cups of water.
- Run your clothes like you normally do.
- Wash them 2-3 times to make sure they’re completely free of fiberglass. Alternatively, you can put them through a wash-and-rinse cycle to clean them thoroughly.
- Once you’ve washed the clothes, let them dry under the sun or in a dryer.
- Wash your hands after you take the clothes out of the machine to ensure that there are no particles on your hands.
Note: Before you put your clothes in the machine, make sure you check the care label to see if they’re safe for a machine wash.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar
Another way to remove fiberglass from clothing is to let the particles dissolve with apple cider vinegar (on Amazon). The vinegar not only efficiently dissolves fiberglass, but also doesn’t damage clothes like most other harmful chemicals do.
In fact, you can even use apple cider vinegar to wash your skin if it makes contact with fiberglass. The smell of vinegar might linger on the body, but you can use cold water to wash it off.
Which Method Is the Best?
It’s hard to name one method as the best since different methods work better in different situations, and it depends on things like the severity of the case and how long you were exposed to the particles.
If you were exposed to fiberglass while doing a basic insulation project, then a simple wash with water should be enough. But if you’re dealing with heavy fiberglass usage, then you’ll have to try out something more extensive and elaborate.
Similarly, in some cases, putting your clothes through a rinse and wash cycle should be enough to clean your clothes, but in other cases, you might have to soak your clothes in a solution of a strong chemical like ethanol.
The bottom line is that you’ll have to figure out the method that works best for you, depending on your exposure to fiberglass.
Is There Fiberglass-Resistant Clothing?
There aren’t really any fiberglass-resistant clothes, but there are some recommendations that you should follow to limit your exposure. Keep in mind that the more you protect yourself, the less exposed you will be to fiberglass shards.
So whether you’re just doing a small home improvement project or work with fiberglass throughout your day, keep these tips in mind:
- Wear clothing that covers most of your body, including loose full-length pants, gloves, and long-sleeve loose t-shirts. Make sure these are durable so that they protect the skin from small fiberglass particles.
- In addition to the body, fiberglass can make contact with your scalp and hair, so make sure you properly cover your head with a hat.
- Make sure you have all the essential things that you might need at hand. These include disposable overalls that you can wear over your clothes, gloves to keep your hands protected, a dust mask for the lungs, and safety goggles to protect your eyes. Tiny fiberglass particles in the lungs can cause respiratory issues.