Cleaning a PFD

August 13, 2011

All PFDs should be cleaned and dried after use, even if they are going to be used the next day. Cleaning is simple and quickly accomplished.

Required Tools:

  • Plastic bucket (5 gal.)
  • Plastic hose with spray nozzle
  • Mild detergent such as liquid dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Soft bristle brush (such as a tooth brush)


    1. Choose an area to clean the PFD that is level and reasonable clean. Use a tarp or plastic sheet if necessary.
    2. Fill the bucket about 3/4 with water and add about 2-4 teaspoons of detergent.
    3. Rinse both sides of the PFD with the water hose. Use the sprayer to remave superficial dirt and debris. Use a brush on stubborn spots. Don’t forget the straps.

Don’t crush the PFD while cleaning!

    1. Dip the PFD into the bucket. Clean the entire surface and straps with the sponge. Use a brush on stubborn spots.
    2. Hose of the entire PFD. The object is to remove all soap residue. Rinse all surfaces, inside and out, as well as the straps.
    3. Inspect your work. Repeat as needed.
    4. Hang the PFD so that air is free to circulate on aqll surfaces. Do not hang in the sun or use a electric dryer to dry the PFD as this can damage the materials of the PFD. A shady and well-ventilated outside area is best. You can use a fan to speed the drying process.
    5. Once the PFD is completely dry, it is ready to be stored for its next use.


  • Never use any cleaning supplies or chemicals on the life jacket except for a mild detergent and sponge. Never press, flatten or kneel on the life jacket. This will damage the flotation material.
  • Make sure to rinse with cold water after every use, particularly if you are using the life jacket in seawater.
  • Inspect and test your PFD at the beginning of every aquatic season. If you are unsure on how to do this, take it to a reputable dealer.

Related Information:

Removing Mold/Mildew from a PFD
Storing a PFD


Comments or questions are welcome.

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