Can You Tumble Dry High Vis? (what it’ll do)

You should always check the care label on your high vis clothing but in some cases it is possible to tumble dry on the no heat or lowest setting.

In the absence of a care label, we recommend finding an alternative way of drying your high vis clothing.

High vis reflective workwear has a limited lifespan and to help prolong its life high vis should only be cleaned when the intensity of its colour has been affected. 

It is recommended that high vis wear should be replaced after around 20 washes.

In many cases high vis can just be wiped over with a dry cloth using a gentle rubbing motion.

If the high vis does need to be washed, it should be done using cold water and a mild detergent. With the garment laying in soak for around 20-30 minutes.

It should then be rubbed with a soft brush to remove any stains and dry the item on a washing line in the shade as UV rays from sunlight can cause damage to the reflective material.

High Vis Workwear Care

We know that high vis clothing is susceptible to some serious staining from oils, tar, grease etc and needs to be cleaned effectively. However, the fluorescent material and reflective tape are sensitive to many factors. Factors like;

  • Heat
  • Alkalinity
  • Abrasion

Too Much Heat

If the high vis wear is subjected to high heats during the washing or drying process the reflective tape can become damaged. The adhesive that binds the tape can degrade causing both the glass beads on the tape and the actual tape itself to become removed from the high vis wear.

This leads to a loss of reflectance and therefore renders the high vis wear useless.


Just as temperature can affect high vis wear, so can an excessive level of alkalinity. The problem is to effectively remove some of the chemicals that high vis wear is exposed to, you need a relatively high level of alkalinity.

High levels of alkalinity can cause similar damage as heat to the reflective tape which means a maximum PH level of 11 should be maintained when washing high vis wear.


The rough and tumble action of both the washing machine and the tumble dryer can cause the reflective tape to degrade and disintegrate. 

Along with any heat this is a recipe for the destruction of your high vis wear.

What The Tumble Dryer Symbols Mean On High Vis

Tumble Dryer Symbols On Clothes

There will probably be only 2 or 3 of the following symbols that apply to high vis wear, but here’s the full list for information purposes.

Square With White Circle And A Black X On Top

This symbol indicates that the item can not be tumble dried. This is the most likely symbol you will find in your high vis.

Square With White Circle

This symbol indicates that the item can be tumble dried. You might find this on your high vis in some cases.

Square With Black Circle

This is the symbol that indicates that the item can be dried in a tumble dryer using no heat.

Square With White Circle, One Black Dot In Circle

This symbol indicates that the item can be tumble dried using the low heat setting. You might find this symbol on high vis.

Square With White Circle, Two Black Dots In Circle

This symbol indicates that the item can be tumble dried on a medium heat setting. It is unlikely that you’ll ever find this on high vis.

Square With White Circle, Three Black Dots In Circle

This is the symbol which indicates that the item can be tumble dried using the high heat setting. It is highly unlikely that you’ll find this symbol on high vis.

How To Dry High Vis Without A Tumble Dryer

In most cases it is recommended that high vis workwear should be dried without using a tumble dryer. This means you’ll need to find an alternative way to get your high vis dried.

Below we have listed the most effective ways to dry your high vis.

Line Drying Your High Vis

Many of the high vis manufacturers and retailers recommend line drying as the preferred way to dry high vis. 

After washing your high vis wear, simply hang it on a washing line taking care to not damage the reflective tape with your clothes pegs.

Alternatively, you could hang your high vis wear on a coat hanger and suspend the coat hanger from the clothesline.

You can hang your high vis from a washing line, rotary line or a retractable clothesline.

Retractable clotheslines are a great space saving device and can be installed indoors or out. The wall mounted box contains a nylon braided line which can be extended from one wall to another.

Once the high vis is dry, the line can be retracted leaving the space free for other uses.

SEE ALSO: Retractable Clotheslines You Can Buy Today

Using An Airer To Dry High Vis

If the weather prevents you from drying outdoors, hanging your high vis from an airer is a great way to get it dry. 

Simply place the airer in a well ventilated room and allow the high vis to dry.

A Dehumidifier Will Decrease Drying Times Indoors

By placing a dehumidifier in the same room as the drying high vis, you will benefit from faster drying times.

This is because the dehumidifier removes excess moisture from the room which allows your high vis to release more moisture and dry quicker.

SEE ALSO: Today’s Best Dehumidifier Deals

Using A Bladeless Electric Fan To Speed Up The Drying Process

Placing an electric fan close to the high vis will simulate a gentle breeze which will help to dry the high vis faster.

You should always open a window to allow a steady airflow when using an electric fan in this manner.

SEE ALSO: Bladeless Fans We Recommend

Why You Should Always Read The Wash Care Label On High Vis

Always check the wash care labels

Considering the rough, tough, dirty environments high vis is used in, it is in many ways delicate. Especially when it comes to washing and drying. 

As you should already be aware, high vis workwear should be replaced after around 20-25 washes. This is because it can lose its reflectivity over time.

Not adhering to the washing and drying care instructions can cause your high vis to degrade and become unsafe to wear in many industrial situations. You run the risk of;

Damaging The Reflective Tape

The reflective tape on your high vis can easily become damaged due to excessive heat in the washing machine and tumble dryer as well as the rough and tumble action in the tumble dryer even with no heat.

Damaging The Fabric

This is again due to both heat and the rough and tumble action of the tumble dryer. Many high vis products are made from man-made fabrics like polyester.

These man-made fabrics can become severely damaged in the tumble dryer even at low temperatures. This is also true if the PH level of your detergent exceeds 11. This could cause the fabric to erode and decolour the reflective strip.

Creasing The Reflective Tape

Once the reflective tape on a high vis jacket becomes creased, it can be almost impossible to remove the creases. If you leave high vis in a tumble dryer the reflective tape is very likely to become creased.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to put high vis in a tumble dryer?

You should always consult the care label for specific instructions as there are some high vis workwear that can be tumble dried on a no heat/low heat setting. While there is some other high vis wear that should only ever be line dried out of direct sunlight.

How do you dry a reflective jacket?

You should always hang your reflective jacket on a coat hanger and then secure the coat hanger to a washing line out of direct sunlight to prevent the colour fading. Indoors you could hang the hanger from an airer in a well ventilated room.

How can I dry high vis without a tumble dryer?

You can dry your high vis without using a tumble dryer by line drying on a washing line, rotary line or retractable clothesline, or on an airer indoors.

How many times can you wash a Hi Vis vest?

It is recommended that high vis vests should be replaced after 20-25 washes. This is to comply with current safety regulations.

How do you dry a security vest after washing it?

You should hang the vest on a hanger and secure the hanger to a washing line out of direct sunlight and allow it to air dry. This can be done indoors but keep the vest away from any heat sources like radiators etc.

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