Caring For Your Chef Aprons & Uniforms: An Essential Guide
It is common knowledge that working in a restaurant kitchen can be a messy affair. No matter if you’re front or back of house, stains and burns accumulate easily, and sometimes even walking through the kitchen can leave your apron or uniform smelling like grease or smoke. As a result, keeping your chef uniform clean isn’t always the easiest of tasks.
If you’re a restaurant owner or a kitchen manager, you’ll be aware of how much of an investment chef uniforms can be, and while you know they won’t last forever, at the very least you want to keep them looking as new as the day you bought them for as long as possible. Fortunately, with proper care (and a good amount of elbow grease!), you can keep your kitchen staff looking polished and professional.
What Influences the Appearance of Chef Clothing?
Factors that can influence the appearance of your chef whites and aprons include:
- Stains that are left untreated
- Frequency of washing
- Types of detergents, fabric conditioners and treatments used
- Water quality and temperature
- Drying method (air or machine dried)
- Exposure to sunlight
- Dry cleaning
Chef Clothing Care: Tips & Tricks
Now that we’ve established what factors can impact the appearance of chef clothing and aprons, it’s important to know what to do when you encounter any of the above problems, like a tough stain or the incorrect use of detergent. Here are some of the best ways that you can care for your staff uniforms to maintain a professional look in your establishment
Invest in Quality Products
It might seem like an obvious point, but when you’re choosing restaurant uniforms, it may seem like there’s little difference between a cheap brand of apron or chef trousers and a luxury product, but you would be wrong. You don’t necessarily have to opt for top-of-the-line, but products of a higher quality are nonetheless made of a thicker, more breathable and easier to clean linen that retains colour and holds up well after multiple washes.
On top of this, if you’ve previously purchased cheap chef whites, then you’ll understand all too well what a pain it is to have to replace them after a short period of time. Investing in better pieces, although seemingly expensive upfront, will save you so much more money in the long run as you won’t be forced to order replacements as often.
Read Care Labels Properly
Chef uniforms shouldn’t simply be thrown in the wash with wash cloths and other kitchen linens; care instructions are devised for each piece of clothing to ensure that they last for a long time, so make sure to read the labels carefully.
It’s important to not assume that everything has the exact same care instructions, or that a chef jacket that’s just been purchased can be laundered in the same way as one that’s much older, or that is made by a different brand. Read the labels on every product - whether it be an apron, jacket or trousers - and follow the instructions properly. You might be surprised at how this simple tip can really elongate the life of your chef whites.
Be Proactive About Stain Treatment
No matter if you’re the head chef or working front of house, spills and stains are inevitable. The best way to make sure that they come out properly is to treat them as soon as possible. Of course, how you treat them depends on what kind of stain it is, but being proactive about doing so is paramount.
The item should also be laundered as soon as possible. Make sure that you’ve got as much of the stain out as possible after washing before putting in a tumble dryer, as this can set the stain and make it impossible to remove.
Keep Some Spares to Hand
Make sure that all of your staff have access to a spare jacket or apron if they encounter a nasty spill or a burn. Not only will this make them more comfortable and maintain your restaurant’s professionalism, but it also means that the item can be treated and laundered as quickly as possible. Even if the spare is a lower quality product, if it means that you can keep your main uniform in top condition, then it’s worth the extra cost.
Change Your Apron Often
Leading on from the previous point, if there are spares to hand then make sure that your staff take advantage of them. Although you can technically wear an apron more than once, it’s not always the most hygenic option - which can reflect poorly on your restaurant. Aprons should be changed after any of the following:
- Handling raw meat
- Using the toilet
- Significant spills
- Going on a lunch break
- Taking out the bins
- Smoking or being around secondhand smoke
- Coming into contact with an unsanitary surface
- Coming into contact with liquids
Store Clothing Properly
Regardless of what your job title is, working in a restaurant can be extremely tiring, and the one thing you’ll want to do when you get home is get changed and relax. However, you should always take the time to hang up your chef clothing and apron properly, and not leave them on the floor where they can accumulate dirt, pet hair or other germs that can compromise their hygiene levels.
Hanging up your uniform immediately after a shift also means that you can wear them for longer without having to wash them every time, which in turn can extend the life of your clothing tenfold. Like all garments, taking care of your uniform can impact its lifespan significantly.
Know When to Replace
Although high-quality chef uniforms will last for longer than most, inevitably they will need to be replaced eventually. No matter how careful you are, and how many measures you take to prolong the life of your uniform, sometimes accidents happen that simply cannot be reversed. Certain stains, such as bleach and other industrial cleaning products, food dyes and wines cannot be removed from your jacket or apron. Additionally, you might experience a rip or a burn that can’t be fixed. Although it’s frustrating, it’s important to not let your staff wear damaged items - both for their safety and to preserve your establishment's image - which means that a replacement is in order.
However, there are certain ways to minimise the likelihood of these accidents from happening. Ask your chefs to not wear their uniforms whilst out running errands before or after work, for example. If you’re also going to be working on a job that will stain your uniform, consider removing your jacket, or even dedicating an old apron to wear during such tasks.
Finally, when a jacket or apron can no longer be worn, don’t simply throw it away. Old uniforms are great for cleaning grease traps, working with foods that stain or performing other messy kitchen tasks that can ruin your main clothes.
Professional Laundry Service For Chef Whites
Although these tips will have you well on your way to chef uniforms that look like new, running a busy restaurant means that sometimes time isn’t a luxury that you or your staff can afford. You might realise that you simply cannot dedicate the precious hours to giving your staff uniforms and aprons the attention that they deserve. If you find yourself in this predicament, enlisting the help of a commercial laundry service could be the perfect solution.
London Linen specialises in high-quality kitchen linen hire - supplying everything from professional chef aprons to chef trousers. Our chef wear is specifically designed with the hurdles of a commercial kitchen in mind, which is why they are made from material that is breathable and is resistant to spills and other hazards. When you choose our products, you’ll reflect on your brand positively whilst also keeping your staff safe.
No need to worry about tough stains or spills, as when your laundry has been used, we’ll pick it up and whisk it away to be laundered in our state-of-the-art facilities. We won’t do this, however, without first leaving you with a fresh batch of linen, ensuring that you never fall short of the items you need to keep your business running smoothly. All of these services are carried out by skilled professionals who are committed to delivering you quality products every time.