Does Asbestos Wash Out of Clothes?

Asbestos is a natural fibrous mineral that's mined in many countries throughout the world. Asbestos was used as a building material from the 1960s to the 1980s and was mined in Russia, Kazakhstan, Brazil, South Africa, Canada and China. Although it was used in places like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, it's hazardous. If you're subject to asbestos contamination on clothing, you can wash it out, but it's highly recommended to just get rid of them because of how dangerous the material is.

mother hanging laundry
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Does Asbestos Wash Out of Clothes?

What Was Asbestos Used For?

Asbestos is believed to have been used throughout the Industrial Age during the 18th and 19th centuries, but there's evidence that Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians used asbestos as well. The material was used in many countries for manufacturing and business purposes. Although asbestos was widely used, it's extremely dangerous. Currently, over 55 countries have stopped using this material. Although asbestos is dangerous, it was often used in manufacturing warehouses because it has many strong qualities. It's incombustible, alkali and acid resistant, cheap to use and very versatile. Also, there's no asbestos smell, so it doesn't intoxicate workers. It was used in cement and plaster, textiles and fabrics, for car parts, roofing, electric cable coverings, pipes, insulation, paper, cardboard and packaging, spray coating and even tiles. The adverse effects of this product outweigh the good, though.

Why Is Asbestos Dangerous?

Asbestos is very hazardous if the airborne fibers are inhaled regularly or for a period of time. Although short exposure will likely not cause harm, it's a Category 1 carcinogen. This can lead to mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis and nonmalignant pleural disease.

Can You Wash Out Asbestos Contamination on Clothing?

Technically, yes, you can clean asbestos off of clothes, but if your clothes have been exposed to asbestos fibers, it's recommended that you have them cleaned in a specialist laundry facility or dispose of them. Asbestos will cause harm when exposed to over time, so if you try to wash your clothes in a conventional washing machine, the asbestos could contaminate other garments or become airborne. Asbestos doesn't have a smell, and in most situations, you won't become aware of the exposure until many years later, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

How to Get Rid of Asbestos

The average person can't test to see if they have asbestos, only licensed contractors can do that. They wear special asbestos removal clothing while taking samples and testing for asbestos. If you do have asbestos, you can't remove it yourself. It becomes the most harmful when improperly disturbed, so make sure to contact a local licensed asbestos removal company.