Improving the lifetime of reflection stripes without compromising quality and operational spend in commercial laundries

21 October 2019


By Thomas Duerrschmidt, Scientist at ECOLAB R&D

Reflection stripes are an important element of different types of workwear and personal protection clothing. This type of garment is used to protect people in challenging industrial conditions (e.g. working in a construction area) or working in dangerous, potentially life-threatening, conditions (e.g. firefighting).

Removal of industrial soiling, such as mechanical oil, and soot or dirt mixed with oil, requires an alkaline washing process. Reflection stripes, which are an integral part of such working garments, are very sensitive in alkaline water conditions and they tend to lose their reflective properties already after 5 to 10 washes. Often the garments are still in good enough condition to be used for another 20 to 25 cycles, if it weren’t for the worn-out reflective stripes. This requires an additional workstream at the laundry, which consists of identifying textiles with the damaged reflection stripes, sorting them, and changing the damaged stripe with new ones. This process is highly manpower intensive and requires additional investment in reflection stripes.

Ecolab has developed Performance Industrial washing process, which is especially designed to fulfill the diverse washing needs of industrial workwear and improve the lifetime of reflection stripes.

Due to the combination of carefully selected surfactant mix, patented soil removal technology, and new gentle alkaline booster, the program removes challenging industrial soiling already at 60°C and ensures that needs of all types of industrial workwear are met:

  • high cleaning performance on a wide range of soiling for blue workwear
  • high cleaning performance and guaranteed low temperature (55°C) disinfection for white workwear
  • whiteness and colour protection for corporate uniforms
  • retention of protective garment properties for PPE


Performance Industrial is a solution endorsed by leading PPE producers like Klopman, Lauffenmühle, and Carrington, as well as 3M, a well-known reflection stripes producer.

“We have focused on creating a program that is gentle for the textiles and can deal with the different types of heavy industrial soiling,” explains Thomas Duerrschmidt, scientist, RD&E. “With this solution, we aim to support textile service companies in reducing their spend on new textiles, while optimizing their labor needs for textile repairs. The program results in a combination of different products that offer great synergies to achieve the best wash result under gentle wash conditions. This combination helps reduce the chemical damage to the textiles and ensures higher utilization of a single textile piece. On average, it has enabled the partner textile service company to double wash cycles of textiles with reflective stripes thus significantly reducing waste in their operations.”

Have a look into the business case where this solution helped a laundry to increase the lifetime of reflection stripes, save resources and therefore protect the environment.


About Ecolab

A trusted partner at nearly three million customer locations, Ecolab (ECL) is the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. With annual sales of $15 billion and 49,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions, data-driven insights and on-site service to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies for customers in the food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world. For more Ecolab news and information, visit

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