The Harsh Reality of Rentals

The Reality of Rentals: Uncovering the Long-Term Damage of Renting Uniforms

Renting uniforms and apparel introduces a world of hidden fees and reduced quality.

We discovered agencies who choose to rent uniforms are often unaware of many of the detrimental effects to their budgets and uniform quality.

Time for the facts.

This infographic was created to show exactly what renting uniforms entails so agencies like yours can continue to work hard to serve the public, and avoid being bogged down by extra costs or limited uniform options.

Take a look at the full infographic here or by clicking on the preview image below and prepare to be enlightened on the harsh reality of rentals. Or, if you prefer, continue on past the image to read a synopsis of our findings.

Renting Vs. Purchasing Uniforms

Renting uniforms takes a detrimental toll on budgets and uniform quality throughout the

Purchasing uniforms saves money, ensures quality, creates ownership and avoids unnecessary commitment or time constraints.

Hidden Fees Vs. Up-Front, Set Pricing

Uniform rental contracts often require laundry services they count on you to not fully utilize.

Even when your employees do not turn in your garments, you pay for laundry, including days your employees are sick, on vacation or disengaged. For example, your contract might require you to pay $300 per week to launder 100 uniforms even when you have 11 out sick, 8 on vacation and 23 disinterested in actually using the laundry service.

One agency might have to pay completely different fees than another. With purchasing, you don’t have to negotiate or worry. Pricing is standardized at one low rate. (You can find our set annual pricing here.)

Quality Depreciation

Recycled Garments
Uniform rental companies reuse, patch and repair old garments as long as possible, usually milking an item an average of 3-5 years. Purchasing plans replace garments in 1-2 years.

Wash Options
Mandatory laundry services use hot water and harsh chemicals, which deteriorate both the appearance and comfort of garments much sooner than home wash.

Brand & Employee Detachment Vs. Ownership

Style Pushing
Has a rental contract ever suggested you go with a navy pant and light blue shirt? In attempts to cut their own costs, rental services sometimes push the exact same uniform to every job at every business.

Ownership Type
Uniform rental companies regularly take money out of employee paychecks to create a sense of “ownership.” Purchased uniforms, however, are a reflection of your brand that allows your employees to take pride in their uniform and believe in their team.

It’s sort of a ownership by fear vs. ownership by pride scenario. Wouldn’t you much prefer your employees take pride in their uniforms?

Employee Morale
No one wants to wear a ratty uniform for 3-5 years. Purchasing new uniforms every 1-2 years can lead to:

  • happier employees.
  • better fitting uniforms.
  • a sense of responsibility for the uniform.

Long-Term Costs

The average employee uniform rental agreement begins at three years at $6.00 per person/per week for a shirts and pants program. This charge is just the base fee and doesn’t include additional charges, repairs or replacements.

This means that, with rentals, your accumulated costs for just 1 employee are upwards of $1,500 after five years compared to around $300 for that same employee if he or she had uniforms purchased for them. Take a look:

Don’t forget. This is just savings at base price. All the recurring fees of renting uniforms will likely lead to even higher actual savings with purchasing.


Average uniform rental contracts often require you to pay for 11 uniform sets per person. This is so you have 5 sets of uniforms in your closet, 5 sets in the wash and 1 on you at all times.

Not only is this just simply an unnecessary amount of garments, with 11 sets, a garment or two are more likely to go missing, which you would be charged for.

Rental contracts typically last 3-5 years, but you often can downgrade to only 10% of your original agreement to maintain your end of the contract. Meanwhile, purchasing uniforms through us doesn’t require a contract or any commitment. Purchase as frequently or infrequently as you like, starting anytime. (No, seriously. Start now.)

Save on Uniforms for Your Team

We do our best to make purchasing uniforms easy. Get a free product comparison to see for yourself. Email to see how much you could be saving.

Download Your Free Uniform Glossary

Your Uniform Glossary: The Ultimate Guide to Uniform Terminology

Do you know the difference between a banded collar and a crew neck? How about the pros and cons to acrylic vs. polyester fabrics?

Check out our uniform glossary, The Ultimate Guide to Uniform Terminology to easily familiarize yourself with all the terms and phrases you are likely to encounter during the uniform buying process.

The goal of this comprehensive uniform glossary is to make uniform procurement as seamless as possible. It’s perfect to keep on hand as a quick reference guide as you compare garments and make your uniform selections, so download your free uniform glossary now!

If you have any questions, email an account manager standing by to help!

Download Uniform Glossary

4 Reasons You Don’t Need a Uniform Store

You may think a local uniform store is a must-have. But is that really the case? Consider the benefits of partnering with a premier uniform supplier partner like ServiceWear Apparel.

1. One on one service can happen anywhere.

Not using a uniform store does not mean losing personalized service. Our Account Managers develop close working relationships with each department representative at your agency. Together, they determine which products to use and ensure your departments have all of the support to reduce costs and create a top notch uniform program. The goals are customer satisfaction and simplicity.

2. You can’t afford to wait 30 to 45 days for uniforms.

The average uniform store has about 3,000 garments in stock, and only three to six employees customizing garments. Typically, orders for out-of-stock garments are placed once a week and received in another 2 to 3 weeks. You’re looking at an average of 30 to 45 days to receive your order, or sometimes even longer.

In contrast, the U.S. Communities contract through ServiceWear Apparel is supported by over 15 million garments in stock every day, and over 300 employees dedicated to customization. Historically, 89% of all purchase orders are in stock and available for at once shipment. Orders are placed for out-of-stock garments every day. The average turnaround time for all orders is under 14 days.

3. Sending employees to a uniform store wastes time and money.

The average number of hours a government employee spends using a local store is 2.5 to 3 hours per year. In most cases, the uniform store is only open during the day and the employees must leave work. If you have 500 employees that take 2.5 hours away from work to go to a uniform store, that’s 1,250 working hours lost. At an average hourly wage of $15, the total cost would be $18,750 per year. The total cost for three years is over $56,000.

ServiceWear Apparel’s solution is a fit set. Fit sets are a range of sizes of the actual uniform pants and shirts an agency uses purchased and kept by your agency. The cost savings are significant. For example, 14 sizes of unhemmed work pants are $10.95, totaling $153.30. 15 sizes of long sleeve work shirts are $8.69, totaling $130.35. The total cost for a complete fit set for these type of garments is approximately $283.65. This is a one-time cost.

Learn more about fit sets here.

4. Overall selection is greater.

The average uniform store has a limited selection of uniform garments. ServiceWear Apparel offers over 70,000 styles, sizes and colors of uniform garments through the U.S. Communities uniform contract.

Download the guide

Download our free guide for a closer look at why you don’t need a uniform store. Partner with ServiceWear Apparel for stronger customer service, no bid processes, better selection, faster order times and much more.

Rental Vs. Purchasing: Free Guide for Uniform Procurement

Are you getting the best deal on your uniforms?

A professional uniform leads to professional work. Public agency employees need functional uniforms for the job. They also need to feel confident and comfortable to put their best foot forward and serve and represent your community well.

A uniform should accommodate, not hinder, your employees’ work and attitudes. Provide the best quality for the lowest cost by purchasing your uniforms instead of renting them.

Agencies tend to assume renting uniforms will cut costs. This assumption is incorrect.

Cost comparison

To rent five changes of standard 65/35 poly cotton uniform pants and shirts, you would pay an estimated average cost of $6 per week per employee, or $312 per year.

To purchase these same five new pants, five new long sleeve and five new short sleeve shirts would cost about $135. Purchasing uniforms could save you $177 per employee per year, or 57%.

Additional costs

This cost comparison does not include the add-on charges you will likely incur throughout the term of a rental contract. Don’t overlook the many common, often hidden additional costs of uniform rental programs:

  • Oversize charges
  • Laundry program charges
  • Underwash charges
  • Ancillary charges
  • Size change charges
  • New employee charges
  • Garment wear and tear charges
  • Long-term repair charges
  • Environmental waste water or energy charges
  • Damaged or lost contracts

Download the Rental Vs. Purchasing guide below for a detailed look at each of these additional costs to determine how they can affect your costs for both rental and purchasing programs.

Download Rental Vs. Purchasing Guide

Learn more about the commonly overlooked features of uniform rental programs and how purchasing your garments may be a more effective, cost-saving solution.

Free Rental Vs. Purchasing Guide

Free Guide - Find out if you're getting the best deal on your uniforms

Uniform Turnaround: How Long Before You Receive Your Uniforms? [infographic]

Quick Uniform Turnaround

We know your work isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Your departments need uniforms, and they need them quickly.

Here’s a transparent look at exactly how the ordering process works at ServiceWear Apparel. We deliver your uniform and work apparel orders on a competitive timeline compared to other uniform suppliers.

This contract has 300 employees dedicated to efficient turnaround times for uniform and apparel customization, that allow us to maintain an average turnaround time of under 14 days. Read on to see how we do it.

SWA Uniform Turnaround Infographic

Let’s break it down. Here are the key advantages we provide, which enable us to deliver your high-quality uniforms faster:

  • Efficient online ordering system
  • Access to over 15 million garments in stock every day
  • Daily orders for out-of-stock garments
  • 300 employees dedicated to garment customization

Start receiving your uniforms and work apparel quicker now. Connect with our Account Management Team, standing by to answer your questions, compare products and prices, or help you set up an account.

Get started today.

3 Reasons to Purchase Rather Than Rent Uniforms

Should you purchase or rent uniforms?

You need cost effective solutions for all your uniform needs. So should you purchase or rent uniforms? In an effort to cut costs, you may have, or be considering, a uniform rental contract.

Keep reading for three reasons to purchase rather than rent uniforms.

Should you purchase or rent uniforms?

1. Rental contracts charge fees for adding new employees.

There is normally a prep or setup charge to add every new employee hired during the term of the contract. This is an added cost for laundry to pull garments out of inventory and add a laundry tape to the garment.

Five changes of pants and shirts require eleven sets to be used. An average setup charge is $1 per garment. Twenty-two garments at $1 each results in a $22 setup charge per employee.

Purchasing uniforms often eliminates this added cost.

2. Rental contracts charge fees for size changes.

A fee of $1 to $2 per garment is charged when an employee requests a change in size during the term of the contract. Keep in mind that a rental contract usually ranges from three to five years. Almost all employees have at least one size change during that time span.

Purchasing uniforms means that the employee not only gets a new uniform each year, but can also order their correct size without penalty.

3. “Under-wash” means you pay for laundry services that weren’t performed.

One of the highest ancillary expenses when using a rental uniform contract is paying for something called under-wash. Under-wash refers to an agency being charged fees for weekly rental and cleaning services that are not performed, due to employees not turning in their uniforms to be cleaned.

Why does this happen? Many employees forget to bring in their uniforms, are sick, or are on vacation on pick-up day. Also, many employees prefer to wash their own uniforms at home for personal hygiene reasons.

It is reported that the average number of employees within rental uniform programs who do not turn in their uniforms for cleaning ranges from 30% to 33%. This means that as much as a third of the cost of a uniform rental contract may be billed to agencies with no return for that investment.

Purchasing uniforms eliminates this added cost.

Purchasing uniforms is the most cost-effective solution.

To learn more about renting vs. purchasing uniforms, download our free guide that provides a comprehensive comparison for uniform procurement.

Wondering if you should rent or purchase uniforms?

Get a free guide comparing uniform procurement options.
Get the guide now

What’s the Difference Between Dress Pants and Work Pants?

Dress Pants and Work Pants: Which is which?

Work pants have basic construction features (button closure at front waist) and dress pants have upgraded waistband construction and features with hook and eye closure.

Dress pants also have an upgraded back welt pocket construction that does not include topstitching as found on the work pant.

Dress pants and work pants

Dress pants

Dress pants and Work pants

Work pants


What’s the Difference Between a Dress Shirt and Work Shirt?

Dress Shirt and Work Shirt: Which is which?

Work shirts typically have a convertible collar, which is a top and bottom piece sewn directly to the shirt.

Work shirt

Dress shirts typically have a collar stand and collar, or banded collar, where the collar is sewn to a collar stand and the collar band is sewn to the shirt. A banded collar is what gives a shirt an improved/dressier appearance.

Dress shirt and work shirt

Additionally, work shirts usually feature two chest pockets for increased functionality, whereas dress shirts normally have one.

Now you know!

How to Measure Uniforms for Fit

Use the chart and descriptions below to learn how to measure uniforms for fit. Don’t like measuring? Click here to learn about how fit sets can get your agency better fitting uniforms AND save time and money.

Diagram: How to Measure Uniforms

1. Height
Stand straight against a wall without your shoes. Make a mark level with the top of your head. Measure from this point down to the floor.

2. Neck
Measure around the base of the neck where a collared shirt would fit, or measure a collar band on a shirt that fits you well.

3. Chest/Bust
Measure the fullest part of your chest/bust. Hold the tape firmly, but not tightly. Be sure the tape is level and straight across your back. Stand naturally.

4. Waist / Mid-Section
First, remove your belt. Then, measure over shirt (not over pants) at the position you normally wear your pants. Hold the tape firmly but not tightly. For shirts and covering garments such as coveralls – measure midsection over clothing around the fullest part of the abdomen. Note: Include both “A” and “B” measurements if ordering multiple garments.

5. Hips
Stand with your heels together. Measure around the fullest part of the hips. Hold the tape measure straight and level.

6. Inseam
Standing straight, measure the distance from the crotch to just below the ankle bone. Or, using similar style pants that fit you well, lay garment flat with front and back creases and smooth. Measure along the inside seam of one leg from the bottom of the hem to the crotch.

7. Sleeve
Bend the elbow slightly. Start at the center back of the neck and measure across the shoulder to the elbow and down to the wrist bone.

8. Trunk
Measure from base of neck (front) down around crotch and back up to the bottom of the collar. (For coveralls only.)

9. Cap / Hat Size
Measure the circumference of the head at its widest diameter, approximately 1/8″ above the ears.

10. Front & Back Rises
Front: This is the distance from the center front at the top of the waistband to the intersection of the crotch seams.
Back: This is the distance from the center back at the top of the waistband to the intersection of the crotch seams.

11. Across Shoulders
While standing with arms down, measure across the back from one shoulder joint to the other.

12. Upper Arm/Bicep
Measure the maximum circumference of the upper arm just below the under arm.

13. Forearm
Measure the maximum circumference of the forearm at approximately 6″ above the wrist.

14. Wrist
Measure the wrist circumference over the wrist bone.

15. Thigh
Measure around thigh (parallel to floor), below crotch.

16. Knee
With the leg straight, measure the knee circumference over the knee cap and parallel to the floor.

17. Calf
Measure the circumference of the largest part of the lower leg approximately half way between the knee and ankle and parallel to the floor.

18. Outseam
Measure along the outside of the leg from the top of the waistband to the bottom of the hem of just below the ankle bone. Or, lay garment flat, measure along outseam from top of band to bottom of hem.

19. Over Arm
With arms at the sides, measure around the broadest part of the shoulders and upper arms, keeping the tape level at all times. If over-arm measurement is 7″ larger than chest measurement, go up one size.

Guarantee a Comfortable Fit

Using body measurements doesn’t guarantee a comfortable fit. Only trying on the actual uniform garment ensures it will fit properly and comfortably. See how fit sets can get your agency better fitting uniforms AND save time and money.

What is Vanity Sizing?

What is Vanity Sizing?Ever wonder why you may wear a size small with one clothing manufacturer and a size medium in another? Recent history gives us some insight into this conundrum.

Believe it or not, until about 100 years ago, everyone either made their own clothes or employed a tailor, and all fashions were custom designed.

The Home Economics division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture hoped to sell more ready-to-wear clothing by developing a reliable, industry-standard sizing system. The U.S.D.A. conducted a two-year study of women’s body measurements beginning in 1939. It was a tremendous undertaking that involved 15,000 American women and input from mathematicians and technicians taking 59 measurements of each participant.

From these results, a sizing system was created. However, as a result of various cultural pressures, North American clothing sizes have drifted substantially away from this standard over time, and now have very little connection to it.

The concept of “vanity sizing,” also known as size inflation, is used by the apparel industry to refer to the phenomenon of ready-to-wear clothing of the same nominal size becoming larger over time.

Vanity sizing tends to occur in places where clothing sizes are not standardized, such as the United States. Also, some people prefer a more relaxed fit for their apparel and some prefer a slimmer fit. Personal fit tastes are not gender specific and vary from one person to another.

Solving Sizing Issues in Government Uniforms

To address the issue of vanity sizing and inconsistent sizing between manufacturers, ServiceWear Apparel recommends government agencies use fit sets. Learn more about how fit sets can benefit your department, by downloading our free white paper, How to Get Better Fitting Uniforms that Save Time and Money.