If you work in a restaurant, whether the front or back of the house, you know you’re going to get dirty. Even if you’re not cooking, spills happen, and sometimes, even walking back to the kitchen can leave your apron or jacket smelling like grease and smoke.
Chef pieces are an investment, and while you know they aren’t going to last forever, you at least want them to look as new and clean as the day you bought them for as long as you can. Read on for tips on how you can keep your uniform looking bright and new, which in turn, makes you look polished and professional.
Invest in High Quality Products
It may seem like a no brainer, but when you’re looking for uniforms, you may not think there’s much difference between a cheap brand of apron or jacket and a top of the line product, but the difference is there, and it’s visible. Higher quality products are made of thicker, easier to clean materials, and will hold well. They’re made of fabrics that retain color and hold up well to repeated washings.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to break the bank to buy quality chef wear. Chef Works has many products across all budgets that are made to not only last a long time, but look good as well.
If you’ve purchased cheap, mass-market chef jackets in the past, then you know what a pain it is to have to replace them so often. Stop doing it. Spend less money up front by buying the best pieces you can afford. You’re almost guaranteed to have to make replacements less often.
Read Care Labels
Don’t just throw your chef coats in the wash with your regular clothes. Read the labels and follow the instructions. Care instructions are created for each piece to ensure that they last a long time.
Also, don’t assume that everything has the same care instructions, or that a jacket you just purchased can be cleaned the same as something you’ve had in the past, or something from another company. Read the labels on every product you purchase, whether it’s an apron, hat, or jacket, and follow the instructions carefully. Many people are surprised at how this one tip can really extend the life of their products.
Treat Stains Immediately
Whether you’re a waitress or the head chef, it’s inevitable that spills and stains will happen. The best way to make sure that they come out is to treat them right away. Of course, how you treat depends on the type of stain, but tending to it immediately is key.
Before treating a stain, remove all solid foodstuff. Don’t rub a stain, or you’re likely to just rub grease, oil, or sauce into your clothes. Many stains can be treated with a quick pour of club soda; it’s easy and if you have a bar, you’ll likely have some around.
When you get home, you should immediately launder the dirty item. Make sure the stain is out before you put it in the dryer; this can set a stain and make it impossible to remove.
Keep an Extra Jacket or Apron on Hand
If you have the funds, you should consider investing in a second jacket or apron. This way, if you happen to get a spill on one, you can remove it immediately; treat the stain (and soak the item if necessary) without having to work the rest of the night with a wet spot on your coat. Even if your back up is a lower quality product, if it helps you keep your main gear in tip top shape, it’s worth the cost.
Skip the Obvious
It may seem like chlorine bleach is the best way to keep your white jacket white, but it actually can increase yellowing.
Instead, try an oxygen based bleach, which will help keep your items looking bright and white.
If you’re jacket is already starting to look rather dingy, try soaking in a sink full of warm water with one cup oxygen based bleach. Soak for 24 hours and wash. Adding a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle can help keep your jackets white as well.
If you are simply prone to stains, you may consider buying a jacket in another color if your employer allows it. Chef Works offers many products in a variety of attractive colors that look just as professional as bright white.
Take Care of Your Items and Store Them Properly
No matter what you’re job, you’re tired when you get home from a long day on your feet. All you want to do is change your clothes and relax or go to bed, but you should first take the time to remove your apron, jacket, and other items and hang them up rather than throwing them on the floor, where they can get dirt, pet hair, or other things that can increase long term damage.
Hanging them up immediately also means you can wear them longer without having to wash every time, which can extend the life of your chef uniform tremendously. Some products, such as the StarChefs.com Premium Cotton Chef Coat come with a garment bag, which makes it super easy to store when not in use.
Like everything else, taking care of your products can make a huge difference in the life span of your items. This goes for hats, neck ties, and anything else that you’ve spent good money on.
Know When It’s Time For a Replacement
While you want your uniform to last a long time, nothing lasts forever. While you can do everything possible to extend the life of your uniform, sometimes accidents happen that can’t be reversed. Some stains, such as bleach and other chemicals, food dyes, some wines, and commercial cleaning products may not come out of your jacket or apron. Rips and tears occur that can’t always be fixed. While it’s not pleasant, rather than simply wearing a damaged item, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and buy new.
One way to prevent such accidents is to avoid wearing your chef gear anywhere outside the kitchen. Don’t wear your jacket out running errands before work, for example. And if you’re going to be working with something you know will stain your clothes, consider either removing your jacket or designating an old apron to such jobs.
Don’t get rid of old jackets and aprons; these are perfect for cleaning grease traps, working with foods that stain, or doing other dirty kitchen work that has to get done.
Working in a restaurant — whether a cook, bartender, or even hostess — is never clean work. You’re bound to get stains, and often without warning. If you act fast, you can prevent your high quality uniform pieces from getting stained permanently, or even ruined.
The biggest factors in extending the life of your uniform as long as possible is buying the highest quality products you can afford, such as those from Chef Works, and taking great care to make sure they are stored properly between uses. If you do these two things, plus follow the guidelines listed above, you are sure to always look your best when in or out of the kitchen.