How to Clean Life Jackets? Cleaning Tips

How to Clean Life Jackets? Cleaning Tips

To ensure your life jacket will offer the best protection, learn how to clean your life jacket properly to remove oils and dirt.

It is essential to practice water safety. Watersports activities require functional safety gear for you, your loved ones, and even pets, whether you kayak, canoe, or paddle. However, over time, life jackets and personal flotation devices might become stained, odorous, and dirty.

We’ve put together some information that will enable you to maintain and keep your life jacket clean so that it will be available when you need it.

How to Clean Life Jackets?

Method 1 – Standard Neoprene (Soap and Water)

  1. Wash your life jacket as the first step. To remove any loose dirt from your PFD before you start cleaning, you might want to hose it down with clean water. Just be careful not to use too much pressure. Even if you don’t clean your life jacket completely, you should rinse it frequently. But it must be cleaned on a regular basis.
  2. Fill Your Bucket in Step 2. Fill your bucket or plastic bin with clean water and add a small amount of mild soap. Dishwashing soap can be the perfect cleaning solution for this, but you should avoid using chlorine bleach or other commercial cleaning products directly on your PFD. You can use cold or warm water, but it’s probably best to stay away from hot water in case it affects the buoyancy material.
  3. Soak your PFD in Step 3. Put your personal flotation device (PFD) in the water after putting it in the bucket of mild detergent solution.
  4. Give it a good scrub in Step 4. To get rid of any red mud, dirt, or stains, gently scrub your life jacket with your soft brush. If you’d prefer, you can use your sponge in its place, or you can use the sponge on the fabric parts and your brush on the straps and buckles.
  5. Step 5: Rinse It Off. Once you’ve cleaned over the PFD it’s time to rinse it with clean water, either with your hose or shower.
  6. Step 6: Dry it by hanging it up. When your PFD is thoroughly clean and soap-free, hang it up to dry naturally or hang it next to a rotating fan over a clothes dryer (avoid tumble dryers). If there is a shaded area away from the sun, you might find that it is preferable to dry it outside.

Alternatively, you can hang it up over your bathtub or shower to drip dry. Make sure your life jacket is completely dry before you put it away or you could open the door to more problems, including mold and mildew development on the foam inside.

How to Clean Life Jackets? Cleaning Tips

Method 2 – Inflatable Life Jackets

  1. Remove the CO2 cartridge in Step 1. Before you begin to clean your inflatable life jacket completely, you should remove the using a CO2 cartridge as directed by the manufacturer. Additionally, you ought to take the water sensor bobbin out of automatic inflation systems.
  2. Second step: deflate the life jacket. A full deflation of your PFD is required before beginning the cleaning process. To clean the air chambers, however, you might want to unpack it first.
  3. Use soap and water in step three. Use cool water and mild soap to clean your life jacket in a manner akin to that described in the method above. Other substances and harsh chemicals could cause damage to the materials, which could damage performance. With a gentle brush or sponge, clean your life jacket.
  4. Clean It Well in Step Four. Use clean water to rinse the PFD after soapy water has been used to remove the dirt.
  5. Step 5: Hang To Dry. Hanging up your PFD somewhere well-ventilated and away from direct sunlight will allow it to air dry.
  6. Step 6: Rearm the PFD. Repack the air chambers, put the CO2 cylinder and the bobbin in place, and then your jacket is fully dry and ready to be re-armed. Heavy objects shouldn’t be placed on top.

Don’t Do This When Cleaning Life Jackets

  • Never dry clean, wash in a machine, or use potent detergents.
  • Your PFD should never be dried in a dryer or by placing it next to a direct heat source.
  • A life jacket should never be washed in a regular washer. The foam will degrade due to the agitation and heat, making the jacket useless.
  • Avoid using chlorine bleach directly on a jacket because it can damage the interior foam and fabric.
  • Never try to clean a life jacket with acetone, gasoline, paint thinner, or industrial cleaning solutions. They can weaken the exterior fabric and dissolve the foam that keeps the device functioning.
  • Avoid bending life vests or piling heavy objects on top of them because doing so can lead to crushing and poor performance.

Final Thoughts: Clean Life Jackets

You can maintain your life jackets’ appearance and scent without compromising their effectiveness or lifespan by following the above-mentioned straightforward rules and advice.

Cleaning your life jackets before using them is a great idea in the spring. Life jackets may not always have had enough time to fully dry out before being stored for the winter, which can result in the growth of mold or mildew. Additionally, life jackets with spots on them may be found in southern regions where it is hot and humid for the majority of the year.


Can I Wash Life Jackets in the Washing Machine?

Never machine wash, dry clean or use strong detergents. Never dry your PFD by placing it in a dryer or close to a direct heat source. Life jackets should never be washed in regular laundry machines. Heat and agitation will cause the foam in the jacket to degrade, making it useless.

What Kills Mold on Life Jackets?

Before soaking the fabric in water if the jacket has mold or mildew, brush away any visible spores. Scrub as suggested but add 1/4 cup of oxygen-based bleach to the cleaning solution. Dark stains can be removed with this. Smooth the fabric to ensure you get all the crevices when thoroughly rinsing with lots of fresh water.

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