Ensuring the fire-retardant integrity of your race suit doesn't degrade over time can be achieved with proper cleaning and care. Always follow the manufactures recommended care and cleaning instructions to get the most out of your race suit.
Caring for your race suit begins the minute you return to the paddock after passing 7 Miatas, 2 Corvettes, and a Camaro. Definitely take the time to check tire pressures and temps, but only get into full wrenching mode after changing out of your driver's suit. It's essential to hang your racing suit until dry to remove moisture and prevent sweat from damaging suit materials. What's equally as harmful is the replacement cost for a new suit- so pay attention!
Your racing suit's primary purpose is to provide fire protection. UV rays break down Nomex suit fibers and reduce their fire-retardant effectiveness. Hanging your suit to dry OUT of direct sunlight is of utmost importance. Wise words from our Pals over at Sparco USA "Your race suit should be treated with the same respect as your Sunday Suit." Look at caring for your suit correctly as a good insurance plan.
Dry cleaning is an option if stated in the manufacturer's instructions. However, using a dry cleaner with experience cleaning fire retardant clothing is crucial, as some chemicals can reduce the heat-resistant qualities of the Nomex. Racing suits are designed to resist exposure to direct flame for about 15 seconds. We did the basic racecar math for you: gambling with anything less than 15 seconds to exit a racecar in a flame-filled emergency would significantly decrease the chance of walking away unscathed.
We're strong advocates of washing racing suits by hand- it's the gentlest method. If you REALLLY can't make the time to hand wash your suit, then using the delicate wash cycle in the washing machine is the next best option. But when you're ready to increase the life of your beloved racing suit, feel a sense of accomplishment, and make your mother proud... pull up a Youtube tutorial on hand washing and get schooled.
Regardless of machine or hand washing, remember to wash your racing suit in COLD water, close all zippers, and secure Velcro belts to avoid damage while washing. Choose a mild detergent specially formulated for technical fabrics. Never use detergents containing bleach!
We recommend Molecule as it safely cleans and disinfects nomex fabrics. Molecule offers a complete line of cleaners, protectors, and refreshers that won't damage your fire retardant gear (and they all smell great!)
After washing, hang the suit to dry indoors out of direct sunlight. If short on time, it's okay to toss your racing suit in the dryer on the delicate cycle. Just like on track, too much heat is always something to avoid (I'm talking to you, Mr. Turbo Subi, who blew by me before becoming another victim to the gravel trap at T1)
Once you've finished washing your suit to the same loving level you would clean a Porsche GT3, you neatly fold it up and stow it away in its proper gear bag, along with all your other racing gear. This way, when your driving career takes off, and you get invited to Sebring for a seat in a 24-hour endurance race, all your racing gear is nicely tucked away and ready for the next green flag. You're welcome! Stay safe out there!