New Study Investigates Methods of Laundering to Remove Pesticide Residues on Clothes

The type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you wear when handling pesticides and during pesticide applications depends on the product label for the pesticides being used. After use of PPE, you should wash reusable PPE with soap and water for later use and dispose of single-use items. However, in addition to the required PPE, there is the other clothing worn during these activities. According to the EPA Label Review Manual, the minimum baseline label-required work clothes for pesticide handlers consists of a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks, and shoes.  This applies to all end-use products (WPS and non-WPS pesticides) even if not stated on the label. These are considered work clothes, not PPE, and it is the responsibility of the applicator to launder these properly.

The Study Details

The Journal of Pesticide Safety Education (Walker et al. 2021) recently published a study, which compared a number of different factors that could affect pesticide residue removal when laundering work clothes after pesticide exposure. The factors included pesticide type (carbaryl vs. permethrin), pesticide exposure level, type of washer (full-fill vs. high efficiency washers), clothing type (blue jeans, work shirt, t-shirt, or cotton/polyester blend shirt), and drying method (electric drier vs. clothesline). They also studied transference of pesticide residues from work clothes to baby Onesies during laundering.

Results of the Study

The results showed that both types of washers were effective at removing both carbaryl and permethrin residues from work clothes, but they did find that residues after laundering were higher on clothing that had higher residues levels prior to washing. Blue jeans consistently retained more pesticide residues than the other fabric types. Regardless of type of pesticide or rates applied, pesticide residues were transferred to the baby Onesies when laundered together. There were no significant differences in pesticide residues found with the drying method used.

UK Recommendations

Our recommendations after pesticide applications include:

  • At the end of each work day, launder all work clothes and PPE.
  • Work clothes and coveralls can be washed in either a high efficiency or full-fill type washer.
  • Wash work clothes separately from other household clothing.
  • While wearing protective gloves, wash other PPE by hand in soap and water, then air dry.
  • Rinse and discard non-reusable items.
  • Dispose of any heavily contaminated items as household hazardous waste.

Source of Information

Walker, T., Edwards, J. Bareta, M., Boot, C., Denef, K., Burnett, M. Bauder, T. and Weller, Z. 2021. Comparing the Removal of Pesticide Residue from Clothing with Different Washing and Drying Methods. Journal of Pesticide Safety Education. Vo. 23. link

By Ric Bessin, Entomology Extension Specialist


Posted in Uncategorized
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