Bulwark® PBI/Kevlar®

Care & Cleaning Information for Bulwark® PBI/Kevlar®

The flame resistant characteristics of PBI/Kevlar® are inherent in the fibers and unaffected by washing.

Avoid storing PBI/Kevlar® garments in direct sunlight or under artificial lighting. Fabric colors will fade on exposure to ultraviolet lighting. Store garments in lockers, drawers, or in closets.

Flame resistant garments should be removed immediately and replaced with clean FR apparel if they become fouled with flammable materials.

Flame resistant apparel should be washed using soft water (less than 4.0 grains). Hard water adversely affects cleaning, resulting in increased detergent usage. Hard water contains mineral salts that can form insoluble deposits on the surface of fabrics. Sufficient buildup can negate the flame resistant characteristics of the garment, and may serve as fuel if garments are exposed to an ignition source.

  • Wash PBI/Kevlar® garments separately from other apparel to avoid lint contamination that may contribute to pilling.
  • Use non-ionic formulas. Do not use natural soaps (anionic or tallow soap) or silicate supplemented detergents. Use soft water. Hard water precipitates soaps. It also contains calcium and magnesium salts. These products can build up on the fiber surfaces, coating the fabric and masking the FR properties.
  • Do not wash at bath temperatures exceeding 140ºF. Use high surfactant, low alkaline wash chemistry with a pH not exceeding 10. Repeated launderings at temperatures higher than 140ºF, especially in combination with pH levels above 10, can result in increased fabric shrinkage and reduced garment durability.
  • Chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite), whether separate or contained in detergents, must be avoided. The Kevlar® aramid fiber will be degraded by exposure to chlorine bleach.
  • Starch, fabric softeners, and other laundry additives can coat the fiber and mask the FR performance or serve as fuel in case of garment ignition. Therefore their use is not recommended. Garments should be appropriately soured to a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5.
  • If garments are heavily soiled with particulate or abrasive soils, a flush at the beginning of the cycle will help reduce abrasion in the wash wheel. Wash formulas and load sizes should be set up to minimize redeposition and fabric abrasion.
  • Temperature step-downs between baths should not exceed 15ºF. Cool to 100ºF or less prior to extraction at low speed to help minimize wrinkling.
  • Condition at a stack setting of 160°F or less so fabric temperatures measured in the basket do not exceed 210°F to avoid excessive shrinkage levels. Cool to 100ºF or less prior to removal from the dryer. Do not over dry garments.
  • Garments constructed from PBI/Kevlar® may be tunnel finished, however settings must be lower than typical for other type apparel. The measured fabric temperature must not exceed 210ºF while in the tunnel to avoid excessive fabric shrinkage.
  • If garments are pressed, the maximum temperature on fabrics must not exceed 210ºF.
  • Wash and dry separately to avoid accumulation of lint that may contribute to pilling.
  • Pre-treat greasy, oily stains and do not overload the washer to help insure removal of soils. If home procedures do not completely remove all potentially flammable soils, commercial laundering or dry cleaning should be considered.
  • Wash in hot (120ºF) or warm (105ºF) water using any typical home laundry detergent. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for usage. Do not use tallow soaps.
  • Do not use chlorine bleach or detergents that contain chlorine bleach. Do not use fabric softeners or starch on any flame resistant apparel as these can coat fibers and mask the FR performance.
  • The use of conditioned or soft water can help improve removal of contaminants from garments. Hard water precipitates soaps and can result in the build-up of calcium and magnesium salts. These can serve as fuel in the event they are exposed to a source of ignition.
  • Do not over dry garments. If pressing is desired, use only a warm setting such as permanent press.

Either perchloroethylene or petroleum solvent can be used. With petroleum, it is necessary to ensure that all solvent has been completely dried from the garments.


Minor repairs that do not affect the integrity of the garment may be made using like materials by either heat sealing or sewing on patches or darning small holes.

The information in this bulletin is based on the results of testing in our laboratory and information from the fabric vendor. It is provided for your guidance and knowledge. As of the publication date, this bulletin contains up to date information on care and cleaning. Please visit our website at www.bulwark.com for the latest information.

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How flame-resistant fabrics work

Flame-resistant (FR) fabrics and garments are intended to resist ignition, prevent the spread of flames away from the immediate area of high heat impingement, and to self-extinguish almost immediately upon removal of the ignition source.

Normal work apparel will ignite and continue to burn if exposed to an ignition source such as flame or electric arc. Everyday fabrics will continue to burn until they are extinguished or all flammable material is consumed.