Sun safety: an enduring puzzle to solve, especially when summertime rolls around. Sure, summer is the signal to sunny days perfect for setting off on epic outdoor adventures. However, constant sun exposure can bring about problems like overheating, radiation, and other health complications.

If sunscreen isn't your best friend or you’re looking for a sunscreen companion, there are plenty of sunscreen alternatives

Dive in as we explore the awesome  benefits of UPF-rated clothing. Let's see how long UPF clothing lasts and learn more about its functionality and ways to prolong its life.

Understanding UPF Clothing: A Sun Shield You Can Wear

UPF-rated apparel is specifically designed to protect you from the sun. To put this in perspective, regular clothing can absorb sunlight, but is not crafted with a specific fabric that absorbs or deflects harmful UV rays that could cause skin damage or radiation.

Think of UPF clothing as a type of sunscreen, with notable differences. Primarily, UPF is a rating that is exclusively used for clothing. It quantifies the proportion of UV rays that can seep through. For instance, a UPF 50 rating indicates that only 1/50th of the sun's UV radiation gets through, marking an efficacy rate of 98%.

Man and woman at the beach wearing UPF apparel

In addition to protection, UPF clothing aims to keep you cool. Given that it needs to cover your skin to prevent sun damage and sunburn, it needs to encompass cooling features to prevent you from overheating. Thus, the fabrics in UPF clothing are cleverly woven with moisture-wicking and quick-drying components, shielding you while helping you avoid heatstroke.

Why is UPF Clothing Different?

Before we dive into the proper care and maintenance of your UPF-rated clothing, it's essential to understand why UPF clothing differs from regular clothing. The most crucial thing to remember is that you can still get sunburned through traditional clothing.

Clothing without a UPF rating, or one that is insufficient, may offer some insulation but can still leave room for sunburn and skin irritation. This is particularly true if the attire has a loose weave, thin fabric, or is made from low-grade materials. Although darker clothing might make you feel warmer, it absorbs more sun rays, reducing the likelihood of sunburn or radiation damage.

UPF-rated attire does a far superior job of safeguarding you from the sun's potential harm. At Free Fly, we believe you should take the good without the bad, which is why our women’s sun protective clothing and men's sun protective clothing is designed not only to absorb harmful UV rays but helps to keep you cool and dry.

Caring for Your UPF Clothing

The best aspect of UPF-rated clothing is that it is designed to provide top-notch protection, even after numerous washes or consistent exposure to sunlight. That said, UPF clothing loses its effectiveness if not adequately dried beforehand or damaged during washing, activities, or rough use.

In addition to reading and following the label, here are some everyday things to do when caring for your UPF clothing:

Wash Gently

While hand washing is often the kindest way to clean your garments, we know it isn't always feasible in our fast-paced world. When machine washing your UPF clothing, opt for a gentle cycle with cold water to maintain the rich, dark colors that maximize sun protection.

Air Dry Where Possible

While dryers offer speedy drying, they can be tough on your attire. Your UPF-rated clothing is crafted for endurance but deserves a gentler approach to maintain its lifespan. High heat can compromise your gear over time, reducing its protective capacity. Air-drying is your friend here, but if it's not possible, a gentle dryer cycle with low heat will do.

Steer Clear of Harsh Chemicals

Despite its tough-as-nails resilience, your UPF clothing isn't immune to damage from harsh chemicals such as bleach or fabric softener. These can erode the protective qualities and disrupt the fabric's integrity, which is vital for keeping you safe under the sun.

Knowing When It's Time To Replace and Refresh Your UPF Wardrobe

Even the best UPF-rated gear has an expiration date. Here are some telltale signs it might be time for a refresh:

Faded Color: UPF clothing comes in a variety of colors, which fade when the UV protection is diminishing. If your navy UPF long-sleeve shirt now looks more like a washed-out blue, your UV defense might be compromised.

Snags, Loose Threads, Holes: A ripped or loose thread in your UPF clothing damages the integrity of the overall coverage, which could cause damage to exposed areas.

Lost Elasticity: The elasticity of your UPF clothing, mainly if you rely on it for a long workout or run, is fundamental to the coverage of your body. If your UPF-rated clothing has lost its elasticity, it may be time to replace it.

When looking for new UPF clothing, shop for high-quality materials that protect you from environmental exposure, like Free Fly’s lineup of sun protective styles.

Man and woman standing in the sun wearing UPF apparel

Consistent Protection - Season After Season

UPF clothing is an excellent addition to your arsenal when heading out on your next summer outing. As long as you follow proper washing instructions and watch for signs of wear, loose threads, and discoloration—you can expect consistent protection season after season.

Experience the confidence of superior sun defense with Free Fly's sun protection clothing. Lauded by countless outdoor enthusiasts, we're more than just a brand—every stitch and seam in our apparel is influenced by our love for the great outdoors and an unyielding commitment to your protection.