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Caring for Compression Garments

Compression garments can be an essential tool for people who are recovering from surgery or suffering from certain medical conditions. These garments help to improve blood flow, reduce swelling, and prevent blood clots. However, to ensure the efficacy of compression garments, it is crucial to take proper care of them. Below are some helpful tips on how to care for compression garments to ensure their longevity and effectiveness.

Wash them regularly

Compression garments need to be washed regularly to maintain their effectiveness. Sweat, dirt, and body oils can build up on the fabric, leading to odor and bacteria growth. Washing them after every use will prevent this buildup and ensure they stay fresh and clean. However, avoid using fabric softeners or bleach, as these can damage the compression fibers. Instead, use a gentle detergent and cold water.

Air dry

When it comes to drying compression garments, air drying is the best option. High heat can damage the compression fibers, causing them to lose their elasticity and effectiveness. Hang them up to dry or lay them flat on a towel. Avoid wringing them out, as this can also damage the fibers. If you must use a dryer, use the lowest heat setting possible.

Store them properly

Compression garments should be stored in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, as UV rays can damage the fibers. Do not fold or crease them, as this can damage the compression properties. Instead, roll them up neatly and store them in a drawer or on a hanger.

Replace them regularly

Compression garments lose their effectiveness over time, so it is important to replace them regularly. Depending on the brand and usage, most compression garments last anywhere from three to six months. If you notice that the garment is no longer providing the compression it once did, or if it has become damaged or stretched out, it is time to replace it. Kim Sacia, Regional Manager of Mayo Clinic Stores in Wisconsin, says, “The elastic fibers used in compression break down through extended wear and washes and should be replaced regularly to ensure you are receiving proper compression strength and therapy.”

Don't wear them for too long

While compression garments can be incredibly helpful in improving blood flow and reducing swelling, it is important not to wear them for too long. Wearing them for extended periods can cause skin irritation and damage and can even lead to blood clots. Follow the instructions provided by your doctor or the manufacturer regarding how long to wear the garment each day.

Take them off at night

It is important to remove compression garments at night to allow your skin to breathe and recover. If you have been advised to wear them at night, make sure to follow the instructions provided by your doctor or the manufacturer.

Caring for compression garments is important to ensure their longevity and effectiveness. Regular washing, air drying, proper storage, regular replacement, and not wearing them for too long are all essential to keep your compression garments in good condition. By following these guidelines, you can help to ensure that your compression garments provide support and relief. 

*This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice. For medical questions and advice, it is always best to consult with your trained physician.

Sources: 

Cleaning compression products. Cleaning compression products | Sigvaris.com. (n.d.). https://www.sigvaris.com/en-us/expertise/how-to/clean-your-products

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017, July 31). Mayo Clinic Q and a: Tips for using compression stockings - Mayo Clinic News Network. Mayo Clinic. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-q-and-a-tips-for-using-compression-stockings/

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Compression stockings: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000597.htm