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How To Clean Tear Gas and Pepper Spray From Your Clothes

Americans and concerned citizens around the world are rising up to protest the killing of George Floyd and countless other black Americans at the hands of police. Police around the world are responding with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber and foam bullets.

Needless to say, a lot of people are experiencing the effects of weaponized chemical irritants for the first time and we’re here to help you neutralize them!

What To Do When You’re First Hit

Police appear to be using three main kinds of irritants:

  1. Tear gas – spreads from a grenade like a smokescreen
  2. Pepper spray – sprayed from a pressurized container like spray paint or a fire extinguisher
  3. Pepper balls/bullets – fired from a gun like paint balls and release pepper spray on impact

The reaction to all three is roughly the same:  stinging, burning, and activation of your mucus membranes which makes for coughing, crying, restricted breathing, and a very runny nose.

If you encounter any of these, your first move should be to hold your breath and close your eyes to prevent breathing in more of the irritant then immediately leave the area to minimize your exposure.

Once you’re in a safe place, wash your eyes first. If you’re wearing contact lenses, take them out then rinse from the inside to the outside of your eyes with water or milk. Be sure to let it drain onto the ground and not back onto your skin or clothes.

Next, wash your hands. This will stop you from further contaminating your eyes or face, although you shouldn’t be touching your face either because of the pandemic—oh 2020!

How to Clean Your Clothes

Get out of your contaminated clothes as soon as possible after washing your hands and eyes. If you’re unable to do so immediately, gently pat your clothes with a paper towel or a clean cloth to remove as much as you can.

When you can take off your clothes, put them in a sealed plastic bag so the spray/gas doesn’t contaminate your home, and take a COLD shower. Hot water opens your pores and will expose your skin to further irritation.

When you’re able to wash your clothes, wear gloves while removing them from the sealed bag and place them directly into a washing machine (unless your fades are worth it, you do you). You should run them through several cycles to ensure all the chemicals are gone.

If you don’t have access to a washing machine, place your clothes in a tub or basin with soap and lots of COLD water and let it sit for several hours. Rinse and repeat and you should be good to go.

Stay safe out there!