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9 Top Tips to Get The Best Out Of Your Aprons

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9 Top Tips to Get The Best Out of Your Aprons

Want to get the best use out of your commercial aprons? Of course you do!
Read on for our top maintenance tips for keeping your aprons spotless and sanitary.

If you manage to make it through your shift without staining your apron, congratulations! Take a bow. You are the exception to the rule when it comes to working in hospitality. Possibly even a phenomenon amongst chefs. For most front of house servers and professional line cooks though, this isn't the case.

You've just finished a long stint at work, your feet are aching to be put up, and you can just about drag yourself home. So the last thing you want to do is spend the night scrubbing ominous food residue from a dirty apron. Sound familiar? You're not alone. As the first line of defence against violent food stains and chemicals, aprons are perhaps the most abused of all articles of kitchen work wear. Read on for our top tips and *dirty* secrets to keep your commercial aprons in clean condition for lasting use.

1. Personalise and Protect. Like any item of staff uniform, holding a member of staff personally responsible for their apron helps raise their awareness of hygiene in the workplace. Tricks like not taking new aprons out of their packs until ready for use, or discarding of used aprons in a covered laundry bin can help with this. Help instill hygiene responsibility in your team with our apron embroidery service

Staff name personalisation can also be beneficial in helping you recognise how often a member of staff's apron becomes dirty and if they need a change in apron type. For example, if they work front of house and wear a waist apron now but usually have a dirty shirt by the end of their shift it could be an idea to provide them with a bib apron. Or, if they currently wear a light duty heavily stained poly cotton apron and always feel hot, they could do with a thicker cut cotton apron for better breathability and washing. Use the lightweight, mid weight, and heavy weight  fabric weight filters on our site to shop by thickness. 

2. Change, change, change: Always change aprons between new shifts; particularly after handling raw poultry, game, fish, dairy or eggs. Where possible, change your apron between preparing different dishes. 

3. Rule of Spares: Always keep on hand back-up disposable aprons in case of emergency overflow and visitors in the professional kitchen.

4. Never wear aprons outside of food preparation areas, even on breaks - unless you are a front of house member.

Top Tip # 4: Never wear aprons outside of food prep areas!

5. Keep it professional! Avoid using pockets for personal items, such as jewellery or mobile phones, to minimise contamination. Did you know that a toilet seat and computer keyboard are both likely to be cleaner than your mobile phone? Now you do. In August 2017 Time Magazine reported your phone is likely to be 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat! If you take your phone to the bathroom often during the day, you can see how bacteria multiplying starts to add up.

Always wash your apron at the right temperature to remove the relevant stain. With modern washing detergents, washing your apron at a temperature as low as 30°C is likely to remove dirt. To kill bacteria however, a hotter wash like 40°is usually recommended. Always check the care label to see which temperature is best for your apron fabric type.  

6. To make life easier and reduce the risk of transferring bacteria, store used dirty aprons close to your in-house commercial laundering facility if available or discard in sealed laundry baskets ready for washing.

7. Safety first, fashion later. If wearing an apron as chef or back of house member, remember that your apron should be knotted tight but with a little looseness around the waist, in case you need to quickly remove it.

National Catering Equipment Centre Chef Dean Starling
National Catering Equipment Centre Chef Dean Starling
National Catering Equipment Centre Chef Dean Starling says: 

"I have always preferred a butcher's style apron with an adjustable neck strap and a material that's not too thin. The bib can easily be tucked in if you want to use it as a waist apron too"

Adjustable neck bib aprons allow you to adapt the apron for your personal comfort. A thinner fabric weight can also help to keep you cooler, depending on the material. View our article for more information on keeping your chef whites white

GG180 Jantex Biological Laundry Detergent 8.1kg
Jantex Bio Laundry Detergent GG180
8. Show your aprons TLC by reading the care label – every apron is made for a different purpose, so there’s no universal rule on how to wash aprons. Following care instructions can help ensure that your aprons last longer and look better in the long run. 

Follow our general guidelines below for quick tips on keeping your aprons spotless: 

  • Soak your apron for a minimum of 12 hours in warm water if the stain is heavily set, to give it the best possible chance of lifting from the fabric.
  • Some thicker stains become encrusted on your apron fabric. Before you go to soak these stains, remove as much of the top layer as you can with an instrument that has a solid, blunt edge. Teaspoons or plastic picnic knives are great for this. Be careful not to scrape the fabric too closely though. 
  • If the stain is blood, soak the apron in cold water. Soaking blood stains in warm water can help them to set into the fabric quicker - not what you want!
  • For pesky stains like beetroot or red wine use a strong stain remover before a full cycle wash with detergent to help lift dirt from the fabric. Jantex Biological Laundry Detergent is a high performing cleaning agent for soft or hard water, which works well in both cold and hot washes.The protease enzyme in the detergent actively breaks down food stains efficiently for clean aprons. 
  • Food stains are unavoidable when you work in catering and hospitality. Be quick to act. When they do arise, wash them immediately, or as soon as possible to give you the best chance of removing them effectively.
  • Only treat white aprons with bleach in severe staining cases and if absolutely necessary as a last ditch resort. Bleach can weaken fibres and even cause yellowing on white materials, worsening the original stain. 
  • After the first wash if the stain in your apron persists repeat the cycle of soaking, pre-treating and washing. Do not put stained items in a tumble dryer, as this will encourage them to set and they will be trickier to remove.

Common Aggressive Stains

Stain: Blood
Solution: Run the stain under cold water to help ease it from the fabric. Using hot water can lead the proteins in blood to set further into the fabric. Or, dab the stain with something damp to help absorb the blood from the fabric, like a cotton tea towel or highly absorbent kitchen roll

Stain: Red Wine
Solution: Use a damp cloth and pat the fabric gently to remove as much of the vino as possible. Follow this by applying white vinegar to the affected area to get the wine fully out. If the stain sticks, try applying a small amount of baking soda with warm water to the affected area and letting it soak before a full cycle wash. 

Stain: Grease & Oil
Solution: You probably get this one a lot, and if it's light staining a simple full cycle wash should do. But if it doesn't, try this nifty trick: apply dish detergent to the affected area before a full wash and rub it into the stain. Dish detergent is specifically made to cut through grease and lift excess food scum from crockery. Makes sense grease stains will meet their match with dish detergent, then. 

When the time comes, replace your apron for best hygiene practise in the workplace

9. Commercial aprons are more effective than domestic ones, but can’t last forever: It’s important to replace your aprons to reinforce cleanliness and keep up uniform appearances when the time comes. Holding onto old aprons will reduce the effectiveness of minimising cross-contamination and your chances of being protected. Shop our full collection of quality commercial aprons today. 

For more advice on choosing the correct work apron view our buying guide: The Right Apron for the Job

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By Kay Oliver

"To say catering clothing and hospitality furniture are fascinations of mine would be an understatement at best. I have always admired the creativity and tenacity required of chefs. There’s plenty to inspire beyond their dishes though. The imagination that goes into hospitality interiors is astounding and should be appreciated!"

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