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Types of Aprons

Restaurant aprons are a vital part of most restaurant employee dress codes. Aprons protect clothing from spills and stains and make foodservice staff look professional. They also help uphold food safety standards. We explain the benefits and uses of the different types of aprons so you can select the apron style that befits your restaurant business model.


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Skip to the apron information that interests you:

  1. Apron Styles
  2. Apron Fabrics
  3. How to Tie an Apron
  4. How to Wash Aprons
  5. Apron Benefits
  6. History of Aprons

Apron Styles

Discover the different styles of aprons, their applications, and how to wash them so you can purchase every apron style your business requires.

Restaurant Equipment

1. Server Aprons and Waist Aprons

Since they do not provide full body coverage, server and waist aprons are not suitable for back-of-house use. However, their shorter length offers comfort for servers walking throughout your facility. Most server aprons include pockets so your waitstaff can have pens, guest checks, and beverage straws close at hand.

Server Apron Applications:

  • Front-of-house servers
  • Bussers
  • Head waitresses or waiters 
Restaurant Equipment

2. 4-Way Aprons

As their name suggests, 4-way waist aprons have 4 layers and are the perfect choice for staff who must use their aprons multiple times before washing them. If the outer layer becomes soiled, the wearer can switch it to the next clean surface. These aprons save laundering costs since your staff won't need to change aprons as often. 

4-Way Apron Applications:

  • Chefs 
  • Back-of-house kitchen staff
Restaurant Equipment

3. Bistro Aprons

Just like waist aprons and 4-way aprons, bistro aprons do not provide upper body coverage. Bistro aprons are distinguished by their long length, which provides greater coverage and protects pants from stains. They're ideal for completing messy jobs like wiping down tables. Additionally, most bistro aprons include pockets so your waitstaff can have pens, guest checks, and beverage straws close at hand.

Bistro Apron Applications:

Restaurant Equipment

4. Bib Aprons

This traditional apron style ties around the back of the waist and has a loose neck loop. Many bib aprons feature pockets to let staff carry order pads, guest checks, thermometers, or other handy kitchen utensils with them as they're working. Bib aprons, also called chef aprons, are one of the best aprons for kitchen staff because they offer full body coverage and protect staff from spills and backsplash.

Bib Apron Applications:

  • Kitchen Staff
  • Servers
  • Butchers
Restaurant Equipment

5. Tuxedo Aprons

Ideal for front-of-the-house staff in fine dining establishments, banquets, and catered events, tuxedo aprons are an upscale version of the standard bib apron. They're ideal for front-of-the-house staff in fine dining establishments, banquets, and catered events. Pair tuxedo aprons with a white button-down shirt and bow tie for a crisp, clean restaurant server dress appearance.

Tuxedo Apron Applications: 

Restaurant Equipment

6. Cobbler Aprons

Also known as smock aprons, cobbler aprons offer both front and back coverage. The side ties are adjustable so you can make the apron snug or loose. They're great for keeping employees' shirts clean underneath, but they end around the waist or mid-thigh. Due to their versatility and comfortable fit, smock aprons are used in bakeries, schools, hospitals, and housekeeping.

Cobbler Apron Applications:

Restaurant Equipment

7. Dishwasher Aprons

As their name suggests, dishwasher aprons are specially designed to help your dishwashers stay dry as they clean large volumes of dishes in your restaurant, hotel, cafeteria, or assisted living community. These waterproof aprons come in full-length designs that extend past the knees. Some dishwasher aprons are heat-resistant, fire-retardant, and cut-resistant. These aprons shield clothing and skin from potential harm caused by residue on pots, equipment grime, grease, and chemicals while working at a 3-compartment sink or loading a dishwasher

Dishwasher Apron Applications:

  • Dish room staff
Restaurant Equipment

8. Disposable Aprons

Dishwashers and bussers cleaning tables benefit from these non-porous, waterproof disposable aprons. Made of water-resistant polyethylene or polypropylene, you can throw away disposable plastic aprons after using them. Single-use aprons reduce the chances of cross-contamination and are ideal for working with raw meat and fish, slicing deli products, and using harsh chemicals. 

Disposable Apron Applications:

  • Deli staff
  • Cleaning staff
  • Bussers
  • Dishwashers

Best Apron Fabric

In most cases, the best apron fabrics are 100% cotton or poly blends. Durable cotton aprons fade and soften after each wash, and poly blend aprons are lightweight, durable, and retain their color. However, choosing the type of apron fabric your business needs is dependent upon what your staff will be doing.

For your front-of-house staff, comfort and a professional appearance are the priorities. Back-of-house staff requires heavy-duty apron materials or disposable designs to protect against spills and stains. We break down the different types of apron fabrics so you can select the apron material that works best for your business.

Restaurant Equipment
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Professional appearance
  • Durable
Restaurant Equipment
  • Heavy-duty
  • Sleek appearance
  • Ideal for butchers
Restaurant Equipment
  • Heavy-duty
  • Resists chemicals, oils, and greases
  • Easy to clean
Restaurant Equipment
  • Durable
  • Comfortable
  • Trendy yet professional appearance
Restaurant Equipment
  • Equally as comfortable as cotton
  • Stronger than cotton
  • Wrinkle-resistant
Restaurant Equipment

Waxed Canvas Aprons

  • Water-resistant
  • Wears well over time
  • Industrial appearance
Restaurant Equipment
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Easy to clean
Restaurant Equipment
  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Comfortable
  • Holds color well
Restaurant Equipment

Cotton/Linen Aprons

  • Breathable
  • Will get softer with wear
  • Rustic, lived-in feel
Restaurant Equipment

How to Tie an Apron

How should aprons be worn in the food service industry to make sure they stay tied correctly? Follow the basic steps below to learn how to tie an apron:

  1. Put the apron on so the front surface covers the front of the body. Inspect where the apron falls and adjust accordingly.
  2. Take the waist drawstrings behind you and tie them in a bow around your waist. If the strings are long, you can cross them behind your back and bring them around to the front to tie the bow.
  3. Pull the knot snug and tug on the apron to ensure it fits properly.

How to Wash Aprons

While the exact method for washing aprons may vary slightly by their material, we break down the basic steps for washing commercial aprons below.

  1. Machine wash aprons with similarly colored items in cold water.

  2. Machine dry the aprons on a low-heat setting.

Expert Tip


Before first use, wash aprons in cold water to reduce fading and bleeding. If their color bleeds, wash them a few more times with items of similar coloring to reduce color transfer.

Restaurant Equipment

Benefits of Aprons

Aprons are an essential part of any restaurant's dress code. Discover why aprons are essential for foodservice professionals below:

  • Professional Appearance: Maintain a professional dress code in both the front and back of the house. 
  • Many Colorful Options: Select one color for a uniform appearance, or use more than one color to easily identify different chefs in your kitchen. 
  • Sanitary: Chefs and servers are more likely to keep their clothes free from spills, stains, and messes.
  • Easily Changed: Unlike other articles of clothing, aprons are quickly and easily changed when they become dirty or soiled during a busy shift. Aprons are convenient and cost-efficient to keep on hand for this very reason.
  • One Size Fits Most: Long, adjustable drawstrings ensure a proper fit and accommodate people of different sizes.

History of Aprons

The modern word apron evolved from the Medieval French word naperon which means "small tablecloth". Naperon was frequently mispronounced as "an apron". By the 17th century, the word apron was used to describe protective garments worn over clothing. While the word apron didn't exist until the 17th century, protective articles existed in even the earliest civilizations. The fertility goddess of the Bronze Age Minoan civilization of ancient Crete was depicted with an apron, and aprons were worn by ancient Egyptian pharaohs and Assyrian priests.

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