What Makes My Sun Shirt Wear Out? How can I tell when it is time to get a new one?
What Makes My Sun Shirt Wear Out and no longer protect my skin from the sun? Your UPF Garment will wear out after a while as you are wearing it.
The whole idea around UPF or sun blocking clothing sounds almost too good to be true, to start with. There are more choices in ready-to-wear clothing that claims to have protection from the sun already built into the clothing.
Guidelines For Replacing Your UPF Shirt
How do I know when it is time to replace the shirt?
After about 30 washings. This can be up to 2 years if you only wear it seasonally.
Look at the garment, is it looking worn? Is it a knit that is stretched? When the fabric starts getting sags and weak-looking places in it, it should be replaced. Is the shirt faded and washed out looking? Your shirt can only protect you if it is in good working shape.
The past 10 years have seen a real increase in the manufacturers who have added a line of UPF clothing. You can find them in both big box stores as well as boutiques. Customers keep rebuying the garments with sun protection built-in. We are becoming aware of how covering our skin protects us from sunburn.
Even Walmart has come out with a special line for their stores that is offering a good selection for all ages. Everyone is aware of the dangers that the sun can do to their skin and want to do what they can to protect themselves and their families.
Most labels state that the UPF factor is expected to last about 30 times through the laundry cycle. So expect to be more careful after that. You will not get full protection after that point.
Is UPF Clothing A Gemmic?
Can’t we just use our clothes that we already have to block the sun’s rays? After all, something is better than nothing, right?
Yes, this is also true. However we know to be more careful, and we also know that we can do a better job of protecting our skin from the sun.
YES, if you have a closet with shirts from tightly woven fabrics with long sleeves and a loose fit. Do you like to wear denim shirts all summer? In my part of central Texas, long sleeve denim shirts are hot! Yes, I have some. Yes, I wear them, but when it gets hot? I don’t think so.
To protect ourselves from the sun, we need lightweight tightly-woven fabrics in our shirts. There are no shirts with those criteria in my closet. I will watch for and add as time goes by. Right now, it is easier for me to rely on the UPF rated garments for sun protection.
When you are protecting yourself from UV radiation, not every shirt is created equal. Your understanding of how to select a UV-safe wardrobe for yourself and your family is important.
You need to consider the activities that you will be doing when you are outside and will need protection from the sun for your skin.
Just like sunscreen, the protection provided by this clothing will wear off after some use. UPF clothing lasts approximately 30 to 40 washes; with regular use, the clothing should last about one year.
For an extra boost, laundry detergent with UPF protectants are coming on the market and can be used to extend the life of UPF clothes, or even add protection to any item of clothing.
Why Do You Need Protection From The Sun?
Only about 48% of sunlight is visible to your eyes. Even though the sun seems really bright, we don’t really see it all. The radiation is able to get to your skin and eyes because we are just not aware of it.
An additional 46% is in the form of invisible infrared radiation. This almost invisible part of the sun’s rays is why we get a sunburn we were not aware of. Why even though there seems to be an overcast day we can still get sunburn.
The Remaining 6%
This leaves the remaining 6%, consisting of 2 types of invisible ultraviolet radiation:
UVA Rays are long-length rays that penetrate deep into your skin. Down in your skin, the rays cause premature aging, face wrinkling, and eye damage such as cataracts. These rays also do the kind of damage that contributes to skin cancer.
While UVA rays are not as intense (hot feeling on your skin) as UVB rays, they are more prevalent and can penetrate through clouds and glass.
Most tanning booths emit UVA rays that are as much as 12 times that of the sun.
The Skin Cancer Foundation says, “People who use tanning salons are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.”
“According to recent research, if your first exposure to tanning beds was as a young teen, your melanoma risk increases by 75 percent.”
Now The Other Half Of That 6%
UVB (short-length rays) accounts for 3 % of the rays.
The UVB (B for burn) rays’ effects will be felt on the top layers of your skin, called the epidermis. The rays will cause sunburn.
UVB rays primarily impact the top layer of your skin, called the epidermis. They will cause sunburn and potentially leads to skin cancer.
In the United States, those UVB rays are most prevalent between 10 AM and 4 PM, from April to October. However, they can burn and damage your skin year-round.
These rays are especially dangerous when they reflect off of ice or snow. UVB rays are not able to penetrate glass very well.
A very dangerous part of the electromagnetic light spectrum that is found in the light that reaches the earth contains UV radiation.
This radiation is considered the most dangerous component of sunlight.
You are more susceptible to damage if you have light skin.
If you live at higher altitudes, you are also more susceptible.
Those living near the equator are also more susceptible, no one is immune to harm from UV radiation.
As there usually is with the things that are dangerous for us, sun exposure is the primary source of vitamin D. This vitamin helps promote teeth and bone health, as well as immunity from several conditions.
If you have less than 15 minutes a day of sun exposure, it is important that you have extra vitamin D from your diet.
If you do not get enough vitamin D in your diet, visit your primary doctor about whether you should take a supplement.
Ultraviolet Protection Fact UPF For Clothing
Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a rating system that measures how well a sunscreen protects you from harmful UV rays. In addition, there is a rating system for clothing known as the ultraviolet protection factor or UPF.
There are 3 ways to shield yourself from UV radiation when you are exposed to the sun. You can:
- Cover your skin and block it. As in clothing. Cover your skin.
- Apply a cream or ointment that will absorb in the top layers of your skin and absorb the sun’s radiation. This is what a chemical sunscreen does.
- You can reflect the sun’s radiation away by using lotions or creams that have minerals in the formula that will form a protective cover on you skin. This requies a mineral sunscreen, that can leave a light tint to your skin.
Specially-treated clothing protects you in all 3 ways. The fabric blocks, the color reflects, and chemical treatments absorb the UV radiation.
The UPF number tells you how much of the sun’s UV radiation is absorbed by this garment. A fabric rating of 50 means that only 1/50th of the sun’s UV rays will pass through the clothing. You do have to button your shirt and keep covered.
The added protection from the fabric reduces your skin’s exposure to damaging UV radiation. By only allowing 2% of UV rays to get through, you know that you are protected under your shirt. This leaves you with only exposed areas needing sunscreen.
Adding a sun hat and your sunglasses along with your loose-fitting loosely-woven shirt with a collar will do a good job of helping the sunscreen do its job.
This little guide will help you be able to break down the numbers you will see when shopping for UPF clothing.
- 15-24 UPF Good Protection
- 25-39 UPF Great Protection
- 40-50+ UPF Excellent Protection
Ready To Shop For UPF Clothing To Protect Against The Sun?
If you are looking in your closet for a shirt to protect your skin from the sun you should look for dark, tightly woven polyester blends.
Unfortunately, shirts that are comfortable to wear in the winter and keep you safe are not something you are likely to wear in the hot summer sun. However, that shirt may be a favorite in the wintertime.
If your clothes are so hot and uncomfortable that you take them off, they will not protect you at all. They can not protect you if you don’t keep them on.
So this is where the specially treated and manufactured shirts are getting their foot in the door. There are shirts that are comfortable and designed to protect you from the sun.
The UPF clothing is made from fabrics that have less space between threads. (this means tightly woven) These fabrics receive extra treatment with chemical UV absorbers, known as colorless dyes.
These colorless dyes help prevent some penetration of UVB and UVA rays. However, they are also lightweight, breathable, and wick sweat away from the skin.
UPF Ratings For Clothing
For clothing to be considered sun-protective it must fall within a specific UPF range.
The least amount of protection is from clothes with a UPF of 15.
The most protection comes from those rated 50+.
So you have the high and low range of what can be labeled as sun blocking clothing.
Just like regular clothing, sun-protective clothing can lose its effectiveness over time. How does this UPF clothing lose its sun protection?
- Pulling it too tightly or stretching it out. Make sure you have a proper fit.
- When the UPF clothing gets damp or wet, it will loose some or all protectin until it is dry again.
- Just the routine chores of washing and wearing your UPF shirt repeatedly will cause the shirt to slowly “wear out of the UPF protection.”
Read the labels and directions for caring for your UPF garments. Follow carefully to make the protection last longer. If the label says to hang to dry, don’t toss in the dryer.
Quick Reference For Regular Clothing From In Your Closet To Protect Against the Sun
- A tight weave is better than loose weaves (Remember, if you can see through it, UV can get through it).
- Polyester fabrics protect more than cotton. Your regular cotton tee-shirt provides less protection than SPF 15 sunscreen. Be sure to use additional protection if needed. Remember that some protection is better than none at all. Just watch your exposure time and get in out of the sun.
- Dark colors absorb UV radiation better than better than lighter colors.
- Stay dry. Dry clothing protects you better than wet clothing.
- Shirts with long sleeves and collers, long pant legs, to get as much protection as possible. Loose clothing helps you stay cooler, even when you are covered up.
- Remember your wide brim sun hat, your sunglasses.
- Your sun hat should shield your face and head from too much sun. A wide brim, 3 inches, and made from fabric that is tightly woven to prevent sun getting through. The reflections are dangerous for your face and neck, even with a hat, so add your sunscreen.
Your clothing can help protect you, stylishly and comfortably, from the dangers of UV radiation.
With carefully chosen clothing, you can reduce the chance of long-term UV damage to your skin.
Sami’s Take On What Makes My Sun Shirt Wear Out?
With the question of when your shirt is worn out and is replacement time?After about 30 times to launder seems a reasonable time of wear.
Unless you wear this shirt daily, you should get a couple of years from it. However, if it is a work shirt that will be worn daily, you will need to replace it sooner. Or buy more than one at a time.
If you work out in the sun, you will need skin protection, summer, and winter. As long as the material that the shirt is made of stays alright and does not show wear, the protection is probably OK.
If you are concerned, launder your shirt in one of the products to use in your washer, and launder in a product similar to the colorless dyes that are used to make your shirt sun proff. You should get about 20 times of washing from your DIY treatment.
The only one we have used is the one that is manufactured by Rite- color additive. However there are several choices for you.
A DYI Idea For You
Are you on my wave length? Are you considering making all your old shirts into UPF shirts? We will be doing that with a number of our garments already in the closet. Any of the comfortable loose fitting shirts and pants that can be used to protect our skin.
There will be more on this DIY hack as summertime gets here.
Have a great summer. Stay hyderated, and sunscreen concious. Make sure you stay Aware of the sun and protect your skin.