Reducing Insecticide Exposure: Proper laundering of contaminated clothing Back »

Courtesy: NDSU Extension


Written collaboratively by Adam Varenhorst, Patrick Wagner, and Amanda Bachmann.

Exposure to insecticides can pose a serious health threat to the individuals working with insecticides along with their families. Families can be exposed to insecticides when contaminated work clothes are laundered at home. For this reason, it is important to take the necessary precautionary steps to prevent insecticide exposure from occurring.

Understanding Labels

In many cases, reading the insecticide label will provide the information needed regarding the use of proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Insecticide labels list the minimum required PPE that must be worn while working with insecticides to reduce exposure. However, even with exercising caution when mixing and applying insecticides or disposing of used PPE work clothing can still be contaminated. Therefore, it is also important to exercise caution when handling and laundering clothing that was worn while working with insecticides. Potentially contaminated articles of clothing should always be handled as if they were contaminated.

Even when label recommendations are carefully followed, there is still the risk of work clothing having some insecticide residues present. Clothing that is worn while working with insecticides should be changed as soon as possible. This will reduce the risk for exposure to the individual working with the insecticides and prevent potential contamination of personal vehicles and homes. In addition, when the clothing is removed, it should be placed into a sealable container that is clearly labeled “Contaminated Clothing.”

Handling Contaminated Clothing

When handling contaminated clothing, wear chemical resistant gloves that are rated as highly resistant to the insecticide that was applied. Lightly contaminated clothes should be laundered immediately, and only with other potentially contaminated clothing. Do not wash these clothes with the rest of the household laundry. As mentioned, these clothes should go into their own sealable container and should never be mixed with other laundry.

In instances where insecticides were spilled onto clothes, remove them, and dispose of them in the same manner as used for contaminated PPE. Although proper laundering can remove small amounts of insecticide residue, laundering clothes with larger amounts may result in contamination of the washing machine, yourself, and others.

Washing & Drying

Wash the contaminated clothes in hot water using a highly concentrated or heavy-duty detergent. Once the clothes are washed, DO NOT place them into the dryer. Even after washing, there may still be insecticide residues present in the fibers of the clothes. The heat from the dryer will remove the residues, resulting in a contaminated clothes dryer. The clothes should be line dried instead. Before washing any other clothes, it is important to run the washing machine for a second cycle on empty with detergent. This will remove any remaining insecticide residues.


For more information, view Laundering Pesticide-contaminated Work Clothes by NDSU Extension.

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