Soiling your safety harness is unavoidable, especially when working in tight spaces, floods, and dusty environments. Besides damaging the components, dirt, and grime might hide the small marks and spots you need to see during daily pre-checks and detailed inspections.
However, you can’t simply wash it with bleach, acidic/alkaline soap, or other abrasive cleaners. No matter how strong the webbings are, harsh products can easily degrade them. If you don’t know how to clean your safety harness, follow the guide below.
Table of Contents
Step-by-Step to Clean Your Safety Harness
What to prepare
- Two buckets
- Two soft sponges
- Mild detergent (e.g., Dawn or Joy)
- Warm water (lower than 90 degrees Fahrenheit)
- An area where you can hang the harness or a ladder
Step 1: Prepare the soapy water and warm water
- Hang your harness by its D-ring on a ladder or wall hook.
- Fill one bucket with warm rinse water. In another bucket, mix 5 gallons of water with 0.5 ounces of detergent.
- Remove the pads on the harness if there are any to hand-wash them separately.
- Dip one sponge into the soapy solution and wring out the excess moisture.
Step 2: Wash the harness and let it air dry
- Wipe the webbing with the soapy sponge.
- Start from the top part of the harness.
- Scrub both sides of the webbing and work your way down.
- Repeat the process to clean all the fabrics, belts, and metal components, such as the buckles and D-rings.
- Dip a clean sponge in the rinse water and squeeze out the excess water. Then scrub from the top part and move down, ensuring you go over the back and front sides.
- Once the harness is rinsed properly, let it air dry for half an hour.
- If you hand-washed the pads you removed earlier, allow them to dry as well.
- Remember: Avoid drying the harness and the pads directly under the sun and using high temperatures like hair dryers.
- Once dried, re-assemble the harness and put it away for storage.
Other Care and Maintenance Tips
Tip #1: Take the time to read the manual.
Some brands recommend diluting water with vinegar to create a cleaning solution for the safety harness. Others caution against this method since it can weaken the nylon fibers. Either way, only use the method that the manufacturer recommends in the user manual.
Tip #2: Too busy to clean? Use an antimicrobial spray to clean climbing harness.
Our schedules can get pretty hectic that we almost do not have the time to clean. In this case, you can use antimicrobial sprays to disinfect your equipment. That said, you may want to read the manual to see if disinfectant can affect the harness’ strength.
Tip #3: Ensure the harness is stored properly.
When selecting a storage space, ensure that it is free from moisture, sharp or abrasive objects, sunlight, and extreme temperatures to prevent deterioration.
To avoid undue stretching, store the harness either by hanging it by its D-ring. Alternatively, you can fold it tidily and then keep it in a storage bag. This way, you can bring it to work or leave it at home if it’s not needed.
Tip #4: Do not leave the harness wet.
A safety harness can turn into a hotbed for mildew if you leave it wet in storage. Likewise, applying heat to dry can damage the fibers.
Whether it was washed or drenched by the rain, just let it dry naturally by hanging it in a well-ventilated place far from sunlight before storing it.
Tip #5: Using markers on the harness is a big no-no.
Marker inks contain volatile organic chemicals that harm the fibers of the webbings. Therefore, users should never write on the harness with any marker from any brand. The only time you are supposed to mark a harness is when you need to remove it from service.
However, there are exceptions. Brands like Honeywell say that writing or marking the harness with markers from Sharpie is permissible due to its chemical composition. So before you write anything, always check the user manual first.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you wash a safety harness in a washing machine?
It depends on the brand, model, and make. For instance, you can clean a lanyard or harness from 3M using the washing machine, provided that you put the product in a mesh bag.
However, certain brands do not permit users to clean equipment in the washer since submerging safety harnesses in water can reduce the strength of the webbing.
A Related Guide: How to Use Safety Lanyard and Harness.
How often should you clean safety harnesses?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “How often should you clean PPE harness?”
Each workplace and task exposes us to varying degrees of dirt, so you might need to clean your harness more frequently if it gets soiled quickly. In contrast, someone who works in a relatively clean environment may hardly need to clean their harness at all.
As a rule of thumb, it is best to wash your harness regularly to ensure that it is always clean enough for you to perform your daily visual inspection.
Although you can usually hand-wash your safety harness with mild detergent, do not assume that it applies to all. That’s why if you’re having doubts, go straight to the source and read the user manual.
Manufacturers know all the materials used to make the equipment, which means they also know how to clean your safety harness and how often it should be done. By following the recommendations, you can also ensure that it lasts longer.
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.