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Caring for and Washing Brigade

Everyone has their own way of taking care of their Brigade (the official name of our uniform), this is the way that I have found works best for me. I start out with my pre-wash equipment and then go on to talk about what I use when I wash my Brigade. Finally I end with a talk about starch and a video on  ironing.

The Pre-Soak

The first thing that I use is a standard bucket with a sturdy handle for carrying when full of my soaking liquid and Brigade. You can pick one of these up from Wal-Mart or even go and ask at a local restaurant or grocery store, as they sometimes have some that they are about to toss out, and would give to you. Be careful if you do get one from these locations as they will more than likely need to be cleaned.

Oxi Clean is the first parts of both my pre-soak and wash steps. I put about half a scoop in to my bucket along with my next pre-soak ingredient. One very important note about Oxi Clean is that it will “eat” your clothes if you let them soak for to long. I have let mine soak for 5 days and not had any problems but, any longer than this and it can start to “eat” your whites.

Cascade is great for taking out hard grease stains and also helps soak my Brigade in soap for a few days before they are actually washed. This gives the time for the soap to really get in and work at the stain, and with the Oxi Clean it gets the job done.

Fels-Naptha is the best thing in the world for getting out carbon stains that rub off when you are carrying pots and pans around the kitchen. Just cut off a small bit of the soap and rub in to the stain before you soak it.

A bleach pen is wonderful for getting at those pesky tomato stains, as well as just any other normal stains. The best part about this is you can use it before or after the pre-soak or even both if you are really worried about the stain coming out.

The Wash

Zout is basically the same thing as Shout or any other spray stain remover. I like to use a few sprays directly on the stains that may be left after the pre-soak, but before I put them through the wash. Feel free to use whatever you would like or have a preference of using as this is just the brand that I like. If the stain looks really bad I will spray Zout on it and then sprinkle a small amount of Oxi Clean on that spot and rub it in before I wash.

Ah, bleach. It’s wonderful for getting rid of stains that are left over in the wash. I combined this with my detergent and a half scoop of Oxi Clean. One very important note about the type of bleach you get is that you have to get the color safe kind, because the magenta embroidery of “New England Culinary Institute” (for us BA students) will bleed its color out if you use just regular bleach.

Detergent is just your own personal preference; however as with washing any clothes in the washer you need to use detergent. I personally use a liquid detergent but that is just what I like.


Starch is by far the most import part of helping to get those really crisp clean iron lines in your brigade. I like to use the heaviest starch I can get, but the type you use is up to you. One very important note about starch is that you must let it dry BEFORE you iron, or else it won’t have time to set in. Starch is also very helpful to anyone in the BA program as if you let it dry you can give your chef coat a “tug” and it helps smooth out the wrinkles in the coat, and will make it much easier when you iron.

In this video you will get a great explanation and visual for how to iron your brigade. Chef Hale also talks about caring for and getting different types of stains out.


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