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Should Protective Clothing Be Disposable or Re-Usable?

Disposable protective clothing is an imperative safety essential in controlled environments such as laboratories, clean rooms, etc. that demand extreme hygiene or can cause worker injuries.

Selecting between disposable and re-usable protective clothing depends not just on cost but on a variety of other factors.

Disposable safety supplies


An important benefit of disposable safety supplies including the clothing is affordability. However, it is necessary to weigh the overall lifecycle costs to make a decision. It includes energy, environmental and transportation costs. Re-usable clothing costs more due to the high cost of laundering and sterilization process. It is also known to gradually diminish the comfort and its ability to protect from contamination.


Health and safety is another important consideration when weighing the benefits of disposable and re-usable protective clothing. Employee health must be a primary concern when bacteriological and hazardous risks are involved. This applies to both the employee’s health as well as safeguarding products from contamination which may in turn affect the health of end-users. Studies revealed that the protective barrier of clothing diminishes with each cycle. Therefore, it should be inspected physically and tested for repellency.


Disposable protective clothing such as disposable coveralls, disposable oversleeves, bouffant caps, beard covers, etc. emits less energy and CO2 as compared to re-usable protective clothing. In addition, many other environmental factors such as significant water costs, energy costs, water and detergent required, re-packaging, etc. must be considered.


The re-usable protective clothing is considered better than the disposable ones as the latter did not offer much comfort. However, the modern disposable safety wear are made from breathable materials and are lightweight enough. Also, some of the laundered materials are reported to retain moisture which might hamper the protective nature of the reusable garment.

It is important to mention that the appearance and comfort of the reusable clothing suffers after repeated decontamination cycles.


The cost of disposable work wear provides better flexibility in case where high amount of change around of workers is witnessed. These are easy to store and dispose while do not require any maintenance.

When it comes to choosing between the two, often disposable protective clothing is more preferred due to a number of factors on analyzing the complete life cycle cost. Disposable garments are much affordable and versatile determining the use of these safety essentials in almost every industry where employees need to wear protective clothing and where there are several visitors.

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