Chef Whites: The Best Way to Maintain a Chef’s Uniform

To maintain a chef’s uniform, clean it the instant it gets dirty. You’ll need to have some basic cleaning agents on hand to keep chef whites looking spotless.

Keeping a Chef’s Uniform Clean

A chef’s uniform is an iconic symbol in any restaurant kitchen, but keeping that uniform looking white and sharp is a challenge, especially for line cooks. Regardless of whether the classic coat is a polyester-cotton blend or 100 percent cotton, here is the best way to maintain a chef’s uniform. Keep several clean coats on hand so you can rotate through them for every shift. This is important when you have to go into the dining area so you don’t scramble for a clean uniform while customers wait to see you. Make sure you rotate through the coats regularly to cut down on wear and tear to the coat fabric. 

Washing a Uniform

The best way to keep a chef’s uniform properly maintained is to treat the inevitable stains and spills as soon as they happen. Quick washing will ensure the stains can be treated easily.

When staining happens, you can use an enzyme-based stain remover or a touch of heavy-duty liquid detergent that you work thoroughly into the most stained areas. Use a soft-bristled brush to rub the stain remover into each stain. Wait at least 15 minutes for the stain remover to work on the fabric before washing. 

Presoaking Chef Whites

Washing chef’s coats immediately after every wearing might not be possible, so you can presoak the uniforms to make stain removal easier. You can do so by filling a large sink or non-metal container with warm water, laundry detergent, one cup of baking soda, and an oxygen-based bleach. Consult the product directions to determine how much oxygen bleach and detergent to use per gallon of water. Submerge the uniform completely, making sure it is soaked, until it is time to wash it. This begins the process of eliminating stains and odors. If your staff has color uniforms, the same presoaking technique can also be used to get stains and odors out. And, of course, make sure you wash the whites separately from the colors. Consult the care label to ensure you’re using the right temperature and detergent. Warm or hot water is best to remove the heavier, oily stains, but check the label to know how hot the water should be. 

What to Do About Stains

As you remove the uniforms from the washing machine, check the coats for any lingering stains. If there are any, don’t put the coat in the dryer yet. The high heat in the dryer would set the stains into the fabric and make them much more difficult to remove. If any stains remain after the wash, use a stain remover again, and then wash again. For the same reason, you should never iron a chef’s uniform that is still stained. The intense heat of the iron would make it almost impossible to get rid of the stains. 

Proper Bleaching

You might be tempted to use chlorine bleach when your chef’s uniform gets yellowed or faded, but that would be a mistake. The bleach can damage fibers in the fabric, making the coat look even more yellowed and faded. Additionally, if there is a logo or name embroidered on the chef’s coat, the bleach would fade the stitching. Instead of chlorine bleach, start by filling a washer or sink with warm water. Next, add one cup of oxygen-based bleach and fully submerge the dirty coats, leaving them to soak for a full 24 hours. After that, wash the coats as you normally would, using warm or hot water and a heavy-duty detergent. Add a single cup of white distilled vinegar during the rinse cycle, which will help get rid of any detergent residue that also can make the fabric look faded. The distilled white vinegar is essential if you have hard water because the vinegar will remove the detergent and soil that can be redeposited on white fabrics. 

Laundry Bluing for Chef Whites

Another way to maintain a chef’s uniform is to use laundry bluing. This product adds a touch of blue pigment to counteract the coat’s inevitable yellowing. Bluing restores a degree of whiteness because the human eye can detect the subtle tinge of blue, and the brain perceives the fabric as being whiter than it actually is. If you want to try a laundry bluing product to touch up your chef’s uniform, follow the instructions carefully. If you don’t, you might cause blue streaks across your chef’s coat, or the shade of blue might be too strong and be visible. All these methods to maintain, clean, wash and whiten a chef’s uniform also can remove stains from kitchen towels and white aprons. 

Let Us Keep Your Chef Whites Clean

At Alsco, we understand the importance of looking your best for your customers, no matter how dirty and messy your kitchens may be. Our cleaning services can restore even the most weathered chefs’ uniforms to look like new. 

References

The Best Way to Clean Greasy Food Stains Out of Clothes (November 2020). Eating Well.

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