I am cleaning up after a tornado struck my house. How do I remove fiberglass from fabric?

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery November 18, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF

Pile of clothes


Tornadoes cause much devastation, destroying or damaging homes and other buildings in their paths. When a building is torn apart, materials, including insulation, are scattered across the landscape.

As you begin to salvage what you can, remember to dress safely. Wear heavy pants and a long-sleeve shirt; use heavy work gloves or leather gloves; and wear durable work boots. Do not wear sneakers or open-toed shoes.Use care when handling anything that may contain insulation fibers.

Although fiberglass is difficult to remove from fabric, there are some options.

  • Wash clothing in a bathtub (some fibers may remain in the clothing) so the fibers can be flushed down the drain . Wear protective gloves, such as rubber or latex gloves, to keep the fibers from getting into your fingers.
  • If you wash the garments in a washing machine, rinse the drum thoroughly so the fibers don't become embedded in future laundry loads. Using a mini- or handheld vacuum can also help remove fibers from the drum.
  • Heirloom items and others that might be damaged by water can be dry cleaned. Warn the dry cleaner that there is fiberglass involved.

In many cases, the best option is to discard the item.



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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.