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Washing Your Camo - Becareful

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  • Washing Your Camo - Becareful

    The short version of this post is that most laundry detergent on the market, specially anything that claims to make whites brighter, has a chemical in it that adsorbs light in the UV spectrum and fluoresces it in the bright blue range, making whites less dingy, and brighter.

    The reason you should care is that this stuff also makes clothing stand out like a beacon when viewed through NVS equipment or seen by animals (like deer) that are nocturnal/diurnal and highly sensitive to blue light.

    The upshot of this is that you shouldn't be using any optical brighteners on clothing you use to hunt with, or that you expect to keep you hidden in an emergency. It's enough of a problem that the military has in it's directives for care of ACU and BDU clothing that you should never use detergents containing optical brighteners on uniforms.

    I've been searching for a list of detergents that do and do not have such added compounds for a few months, and here's what I came up with from the internets:

    Detergents without optical brighteners:

    * All Free & Clear (formulated for ACUs)
    * Woolite (all versions)
    * Country Save
    * Bold Powder
    * Cheer Liquid and Powder (all versions except True Fit liquid)
    * Surf Powder (all versions)
    * Sport Wash

    - Exchange Select Cold Water Wash
    - Allens Laundry detergent (power and liquid)
    - Bi-O-Kleen Laundry Detergent (powder and liquid)
    - Charlie's Soap (powder and liquid)
    - ECOS Free and Clear Laundry Detergent
    - Mountain Green Liquid Laundry Detergent
    - Nature Clean (liquid and powder)
    - Oxy-Prime Powder
    - Planet Ultra (liquid and powder)
    - Seventh Generation Laundry detergents
    - Sun and Earth Liquid
    - Washeze

    Refrain from using:

    * Dreft
    * Era
    * Gain
    * Tide
    * Ivory Snow
    * Fab
    * Ajax
    * Dynamo
    * Suavitel
    * Wisk
    * Arm and Hammer
    * Surf Liquid
    * All Liquid
    * Purex
    * Zout
    * Calgon
    * Spray & Wash

    For detergents that do not appear on this list, the test to check whether they contain them is simple: Take a black light, and shine it in the bottle of detergent. If it lights up like a drum of nuclear waste, you shouldn't wash your cammies with it. You should also use the black light on your existing clothing articles to check if they're already saturated in the brighteners. If they glow under black light, you've got a problem and need to take corrective action, which I'll get to in a second.

    Another problem with optical brighteners is that a lot of stock fabric from textile mills comes in white, and almost all of it has been pre-treated with optical brighteners when it was manufactured. Later, the garment company buys it and dyes it in whatever colors or patterns they want, but the brighteners remain in the fabric. Many garments that are not specifically made for concealment fall into this category, as do many, many cheap chinese-made knockoff garments that ARE sold for concealment (shitty airsofter multicam/Marpat clothes, I'm looking at you).

    If your black-light test on your clothing reveals a glowing nightmare, either from the factory or from your own detergent, there is some remedial actions you can take to make them perform better.

    There's a product called UV Killer that contains it's own UV opaque pigments that are otherwise transparent, that you can spray onto your clothing to stop this nonsense.
    I got mine at Cabela's for $10 a bottle, it's enough for a few outfits. According to the directions, you're supposed to first wash your clothes in a detergent that doesn't contain the optical brighteners (the brighteners in detergent are not totally indelible, so this will start removing them right off the bat), and then spray this stuff on when they dry.

    The best thing you can do to support the site is pass it on to your friends and fav sites like other forums, facebook, twitter etc. Let people know about us! :)

  • #2
    Excellent topic Diesel!

    I have used the sports wash and the UV killer, good stuff. I had completely forgotten about Woolite.

    I can also verify that things that have brighteners shine brighly with night vision.

    Also don't forget that while your cammies may not show up UV if treated properly, your bug out nikies probably do. Street shoes show up brightly in NV. Be sure that your shoes ,if non-tactical, have the reflective tape removed!

    Oh yeah and don't forget to check the shoe laces!!!


    Someday someone may kill you with your own gun, but they should have to
    beat you to death with it because it is empty.

    The faster you finish the fight, the less shot you will get.


    • #3
      starch has the same effect

      Not that you have a reason to starch your cammies, but just thought id add to the topic. During my time in the corps we were always sure to keep our "field cammies" seperated from our "garrison cammies" due to the fact that the starch used will show up, rather significantly, on ir.


      • #4
        Originally posted by devildog View Post
        Not that you have a reason to starch your cammies, but just thought id add to the topic. During my time in the corps we were always sure to keep our "field cammies" seperated from our "garrison cammies" due to the fact that the starch used will show up, rather significantly, on ir.
        +1 on the starch sub........

        I only wash my tac gear with straight water, and I only use a separate washer that I have in my garage for washing only my gear...I picked it up at a yard ssale for $25, and run a hose to it when I wanna wash a load of tac, cammy, or other "noseum" gear. ;)
        "I Have Sworn Upon the Altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." -Thomas Jefferson

        "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." -Frederic Bastiat


        • #5
          I switched to non-phosphate/brightener detergent over a decade ago. I found it took several weeks for all the residue to wash-out of my clothes washer and about 3 washings to wash it out of my street clothes. Denim jeans light-up like day-glow paint if they have been washed in the stuff!
          The road to serfdom is paved with free electric golf carts.


          • #6
            Double cool. I do use the UV killer on my hunting clothes, but never thought of using it on my "wearing around town" camo's. Or having the bug out bags washed and ready with it.