When it comes to beekeeping, your suit, gloves, and jackets are your first line of defense. They not only shield you from potential stings but also ensure your safety during your beekeeping adventures. Therefore, it’s crucial to take good care of them, ensuring they last as long as possible.
Most beekeeping suits and jackets are designed to be machine washable, with the exception of the veil. The veil can get damaged by the zippers and closures of the main body, hence the need for a detachable veil. Following the cleaning instructions meticulously is key to maintaining your beekeeping suit in top-notch condition.
Considering the significant investment you’ve made in your beekeeping suit, let’s explore how you can clean it effectively without causing any damage!
What’s the Best Way to Wash a Beekeeping Suit?
Regularly washing your beekeeping suit not only keeps it clean but also helps prolong its lifespan. Remember, your suit can collect stings and the pheromones released can agitate other bees. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to the letter.
Now, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of washing your beekeeping suit without causing any damage.
Empty all pockets in your suit.
Before washing, ensure all pockets are empty. Remove any debris like soil, leaves, twigs, etc. You certainly don’t want a stray pebble or twig damaging your suit or washing machine!
Also, remove any other items like tissues, cloths, scraps of paper, notebooks, knives, and any other small equipment you might have stored in your pockets while tending to your bees.
Detach the veil.
Next, remove the veil from the main body of your beekeeping suit. Always hand wash the veil gently with a small amount of detergent to prolong its lifespan and prevent any potential tearing.
Gentle washing also helps maintain the black color of your veil, which can fade over time, making it harder to see through. After washing, rinse thoroughly and let it air dry. Never put your veil in a tumble dryer.
Pre-treat any stains.
Before machine washing your suit, pre-treat any stains. Propolis stains may not completely disappear, but they can be reduced using a laundry detergent.
Opt for an all-natural detergent to avoid harmful chemicals that could shorten the lifespan of your suit. For wax stains, scrape off the wax and pour hot water through your suit from the back of the fabric. Do this outdoors to prevent wax from clogging your drain. For grass, soil, or dirt stains, a good pre-treater combined with a pre-soak will do the trick. Other types of stains can be rubbed with a pre-treater and pre-soaked before machine washing.
Zip up all the zippers.
Before washing, zip up all the zippers on the suit. You can use safety pins on the main zipper at the front (top and bottom) to ensure it stays closed during the washing cycle.
Loosen the cord tighteners.
Loosen any cord tighteners on your suit to prevent them from stretching and losing their elasticity during washing.
Wash your suit as per the garment care instructions.
Place your suit in the washing machine and follow the garment care instructions. Use the hottest water temperature setting allowed by the garment instructions.
Always wash your beekeeping suit separately to avoid transferring any remaining stains or traces of bee venom to other clothes. Avoid using fabric conditioner and use only small amounts of detergent. Also, avoid fragrant detergents, bleach, or fabric softeners. If you need a rinsing aid, plain white vinegar will do the trick.
Air dry your suit.
After washing, don’t tumble dry your suit as it may shrink. Instead, hang it up to dry, preferably in the shade. Ensure all zippers are open to aid in quick drying. Make sure your suit is completely dry before storing it to prevent mold growth.
For other beekeeping equipment like gloves, hand wash in cold water and air dry in the shade. Avoid tumble drying or using bleach.
Properly Washing Your Beekeeping Veil
Just like your bee suit, your veil also needs proper care and cleaning. Here’s how to wash your veil correctly to prevent damage and fading:
- Pre-soak your veil using an Oxy-clean type of product, if needed.
- Add a small amount of detergent to a sink or tub and let your veil soak for 15-20 minutes.
- Gently swish the water through the fabric and netting, and use a soft brush to gently scrub the hatband to remove soil, sweat, or stains.
- Rinse your veil in clear water several times until all soap is rinsed out.
- Air dry your veil outside, but not in direct sunlight.
Efficiently Removing Propolis Stains
Bees collect propolis from tree buds and plants to seal smaller gaps in their beehive. This dark brown resin is sticky and can stain clothing and other materials it comes into contact with.
Many beekeepers collect and sell propolis commercially due to its proven health benefits. However, propolis can leave stubborn stains on your bee suit. But don’t worry, there are ways to remove these stains!
First, use a scraper to remove as much propolis as possible. Then, create a paste using dry laundry powder and an all-purpose liquid cleaner in a 3:1 ratio. Apply this paste to the stained cloth and rub it into your bee suit’s material. Soak in hot water for 20 minutes.
Rinse the cloth in hot water to remove the paste and any remaining propolis. Reapply the paste and let it sit for about an hour. Wash your beekeeping suit in hot water again and spray it with an additional all-purpose cleaner. After washing and rinsing, the propolis stains should be gone. If not, repeat the process.
Why Should You Wash Your Bee Suit?
Regularly washing your beekeeping suit is important for several reasons. Firstly, a clean suit is more comfortable to wear, especially in hot weather when the fabric becomes less breathable due to accumulated sweat. Secondly, grime build-up can damage the fabric of your beekeeping suit prematurely.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, your bee suit can accumulate bee alarm and sting pheromones over time. These pheromones, while nearly undetectable to humans, can disturb bees. While airing out your suit can help disperse these chemicals, washing your suit is even more effective. It not only removes these pheromones but also protects the fibers of your garment, making it more pleasant to wear.
How Often Should You Wash Your Beekeeping Suit?
Title: A Detailed Guide: How to Wash a Beekeeping Suit Without Ruining It
Beekeeping is an intriguing and fruitful endeavor, but it comes with several occupational hazards, primarily in the form of stings endured while managing hives. Consequently, beekeepers are equipped with specially designed suits to provide protection while handling bees. However, the longevity and efficiency of these beekeeping suits are directly dependent on their proper maintenance, and cleaning them is an inseparable part of this maintenance process. Yet, improper washing techniques can potentially harm your beekeeping suit, diminishing its protective attributes and significantly reducing its longevity. Hence, it is crucial to know some of the correct practices related to cleaning your beekeeping suit without ruining it.
Details About the Suit
Beekeeping suits are primarily made out of cotton polyester or a nylon and cotton blend fabric and include elastic wrists and ankles, a detachable fence or round veil, and numerous strategically placed pockets. These suits are designed to resist the penetration of stingers, thus keeping the beekeepers safe. Because of this function, it becomes essential to handle these suits with utmost care to maintain their protective qualities.
Before delving into washing the suit, it is vital to understand the importance of general care. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause your suit to fade and become fragile. Therefore, after use, it is recommended to store your suit inside, preferably in a dry and cool place. Moreover, if the suit gets slightly dirty during use, spot-cleaning with a gentle fabric cleaner instead of washing the whole suit can prolong its life.
Preparing To Wash
When the beekeeping suit becomes extremely dirty, spot-cleaning will not suffice, and a full wash becomes necessary. Before washing, it is important to thoroughly check all the pockets and remove the detachable veil, as it may get damaged during washing. It is also advised to put your protective gloves and any other additional beekeeping gear aside to minimize potential washing machine damages.
Machine-Washing The Suit
When using a washing machine, select a gentle cycle with cold water to prevent the suit from shrinking or getting discolored. Also, refrain from using bleach or fabric softener as these could damage your suit’s material. Instead, opt for mild detergents.
After the wash cycle is done, use a slow spin-dry setting if available. It’s essential not to subject your suit to high heat or harsh wringing, as it could lead to the weakening of the fabric and the seams.
Air-Drying The Suit
After washing, use air drying instead of machine drying. Hang your suit out to dry naturally. Direct sunlight may cause fading, so it’s preferable to dry it in the shade. Ensure the suit’s zippers and Velcro are completely dry before storing the suit to prevent rusting and other damaging effects.
The proper maintenance of a beekeeping suit requires careful attention and practice. By following the above prescribed washing techniques, you can effectively clean your suit without compromising its integrity and durability. Remember, a well-maintained beekeeping suit not only prolongs the life of the suit but also ensures an enhanced level of protection, crucial for every beekeeper.