Laundry Detergent

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    • #107421

        I’ve seen some comments about being careful about some detergents diminish the IR protection of some camo pants.

        Are there recommendations that are friendly to IR protected pants & shirts?

      • #107422
        Joe (G.W.N.S.)

          Near Infrared (nIR) capability of the military uniforms and any clothing for that matter is degraded when washed with detergents containing optical brighteners. Because most commercial detergents contain optical brighteners, there is generally no indication on the packaging.

          The impact of optical brighteners is permanent, it cannot be washed out. So if you have already used it on a particular uniform it’s too late.

          I buy Charlie’s Soap Unscented Scent Laundry Detergent at Ace Hardware.

          CHARLIE’S SOAP

          The secret to a happy life with clean clothes while doing your share for Mother Earth shouldn’t be complicated. Use our concentrated Laundry Powder detergent. It deep cleans your laundry for only pennies per wash (one tablespoon per large load), as it removes trapped odors and stains. Hypoallergenic, non-toxic, safer for the environment. Plus, it removes residues from your previous detergent. No need for fabric softener, either. Septic safe.

          • Concentrated Laundry Powder detergent (one 2.64 lbs bag, 100 loads)
          • Deep Clean your laundry for only pennies per load.
          • Removes trapped odors, stains.
          • Removes residues from your previous detergent.
          • Zero brighteners, zero fragrances, zero dyes, zero fillers.
          • One tablespoon per large load.
          • Hypoallergenic, non-toxic, safer for the environment.
          • Works on all your laundry, high-tech fabrics, delicates.
          • No need for fabric softener.
          • Septic safe.

          Ingredients: Sodium carbonate (washing soda), C12-15 Pareth-2 (surfactant), Sodium metasilicate (anti-caking agent)

          There are other brands out there, just make sure no brighteners.

          I never use the dryer due to extra wear and tear, but it you do, don’t use dryer sheets most have brighteners. The scent thing isn’t good either.

        • #107423

            Most hunting clothes detergent will work. Just read the label and avoid optical brighteners and scents. You would be surprised how far the smell from scented detergent will travel in the woods.

          • #107424

              Definitely avoid the brighteners, most detergents have them.

              You will glow like a glowing ghoul under NV if you use them.

            • #107425

                Costco has a great detergent that has no optical brighteners. Also a company called seventh generation has some.

              • #107426

                  Thanks for the responses. I forgot about the hunting clothes detergents.

                  I recently bought a manual powered washer, “Wonder Washer”. I did run a load using regular detergent in it. Is there a danger of residual brightener affecting my camo or hunting clothes if I use it for them?

                • #107427

                    Woolite was my go-to for my cammies, now I’ve figured out that Cheer also lacks optical brighteners and is cheaper so I transitioned to that instead.

                    …So if you have clothes that have already been hit by optical brighteners, would rit dye or something be able to tone the colors back down? Just a random thought.

                  • #107428

                      As for the dryer, there are also unscented dryer sheets for hunting clothes. What I have not looked at though is whether they have brightners in them.
                      You should also be aware of residual unwanted detergent (I.E. scent & brighteners) in the washer after a “regular” wash if detergent is used with brighteners. I usually run some rags thru a hot/hot cycle to clear the residual out before washing my hunting clothes.

                    • #107429

                        The optical brighteners thing was officially endorsed by both the Army an USAF at one point. NATIC has since done a lot of science and big Army has since retracted that guidance. It should not effect the fabrics NIR capabilities per the nerds at NATIC. Bear in mind the nerds at NATIC are also the same guys who gave us UCP, so…

                        From my view, the brighteners themselves work in the near UV part of the spectrum via phosphorescence. Humans don’t see in that part of the spectrum very well but, some animals do. It will also glow under a black light. In normal broad spectrum lighting conditions the phosphorescence simply trick us into thinking our whites are whiter and our brights are brighter. This is especially true under natural sunlight since it has a lot of UV in it (as any pasty person can attest to). When exposed to light that does not contain UV wavelengths, it should not do that.

                        To my knowledge optical brighteners won’t glow in the NIR part of the spectrum. IR illuminators won’t light then up like black lights do as black lights are actually up near violet and give off UV emnissions. NIR is on the other side down below red. They are different wavelengths or frequencies.

                        Unless you are in a gun fight at the local rave or laser tag joint you are probably not going to be exposed to black lights. Any detergent that keeps the pattern from fading is probably fine. That said the more gentle soaps tend to not have brighteners in them.

                        Here is an Army Times article about caring for OCPs.


                      • #107430
                        Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                          The optical brighteners thing was officially endorsed by both the Army an USAF at one point. NATIC has since done a lot of science and big Army has since retracted that guidance. It should not effect the fabrics NIR capabilities per the nerds at NATIC. Bear in mind the nerds at NATIC are also the same guys who gave us UCP, so…

                          As is often the case these Army geeks aren’t looking at the whole picture!

                          First, the effects of these optical brightners have on non approved dyes in cheaper camo reproductions, something to consider when sourcing camo.

                          Second, the extreme variation of various manufactured LED’s and don’t forget older filtered incandescent illumination devices.

                          Finally a look into current research and development by other countries night vision devices shows a somewhat different spectrum focus.

                          For example:

                          Photonis is a leading multinational high-technology group, with experience in manufacture, sales and innovation specializing in photo sensor imaging technologies since 1937.

                          Photonis is a global manufacturer of electro-optic components used in the detection of ions, electrons and photons. We innovate and engineer quality components for integration into a variety of applications such as night vision optics, digital cameras, mass spectrometry, physics research, space exploration and many others.

                          Photonis has set the following standard for 4G Technology is a set of capabilities described by minimum specifications of modern Night Vision to deliver to end-users the highest performance in all field conditions.

                          4G Night Vision standard is defined by:

                          1 – An Extended Bandwidth of photon collection to deliver a consistently high image quality in all environments (from below 400nm to above 1.000nm)

                          2 – A FOM (figure of merit being Signal to Noise Ratio times the Resolution : SNR* R) above 1.800

                          3 – A Resolution always superior to 57 lp/mm even in the most polluted light environments such as urban areas or when entering a building where the light is suddenly switched on

                          4 – A Halo size never larger than 0.7mm around the brightest objects seen in the image to provide the highest details around the light sources

                          Note above bold: Ultraviolet (UV) has a wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm.

                          So I would be careful with Army’s current interpretation, which tends to be “scope locked” on low technology threats. ;-)

                        • #107431

                            NATIC may be off on emerging threats , but my statement stands. Optical brighteners should not hurt the NIR capabilities of gear. It might hurt their effectiveness in the UV band as my quip about black lights aludes to, but that was not what OP was asking about nor is it the most common threat as far as sensors go. It is also not the reason why the USAF and Army used to suggest troops not use them. Otherwise the old warnings about soap would have been about broad spectrum sensors and not NIR treatments

                            Now, if the bad guy has broad spectrum sensors then I am wrong about not needing to worry about UV or near UV outside of raves and laser tag. In such a case, perhaps the hunting community can help us out since deer and such see into the bottom of the UV band. But against such an enemy we probably have bigger problems then, like FLIR and the like.

                          • #107432
                            Joe (G.W.N.S.)

                              Obviously the concern is counter detection and there are a host of factors that effect this.

                              In regards to most common sensor threat I recommend self verification of all products with own equipment.

                              Remember not all gear used by our members has been approved for use by military standards. Using the self verification under various ambient light and various illuminator sources can be quite “illuminating” (pun intended). ;-)

                              Photonis push into a broader spectrum range for its products represents a emerging threat, but is not by any means a game changer. Just one of many things to be aware of.

                              My assessment is not based on just on reading, but actual sensor use. Though I can not comprehensively identify all of the various reasons for all sources of “glowing” it has been observed by many.

                              In the early days of NODS use, starched uniforms were a common problem as one example. Shouldn’t be a problem for us. ;-)

                              Various illumination devices increase this effect.

                              I don’t have time now for a extensive post, but will at a latter date.

                              My avoidance of optical brighteners will continue.


                            • #107433

                                You make a good point. Please allow me to update my “two cents” on the issue.

                                If you can use soap without the brighteners in them do so, it certainly won’t hurt as such soap is usually gentler on the fabric anyway. If you have laundered your stuff with soap that has brighteners in it, you are still probably fine given how they work and how most NODs work. Your stuff is not ruined forever and you probably don’t need to replace it. Optical detection is simply way to complex to get bent out of shape about a single facotr like this. Unless you actually see your stuff “glow” during training you are probably fine.

                                Also starch is dumb.

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