Lifejackets Hung Out To Dry


Since life jackets and other personal flotation devices (PFDs) save lives, they are certainly a crucial part of one’s boating gear. Like the rest of your gear, maintaining them well will save you money in the long run as well as ensuring they function correctly. The most basic way to do so is by keeping them clean. If you’re not exactly sure how to clean personal floatation devices, here’s a guide you can follow.


To wash this piece of gear, the first thing you must do is wet or gently hose down your PFD. Then fill a large bucket or water container with cold water. To your water, add about 30 ml of gentle cleaning detergent.

Then, look for areas that are filthier than the others. Apply undiluted detergent to these areas and scrub with a soft brush. While spot cleaning, make sure you’re not crushing or holding the PFD too tightly as the material inside can become deformed.

Then, dip the PFD in the water in the bucket. Next, gently scrub your entire life jacket or PFD with a sponge, including the buckles and straps.

Once you’re done, rinse your gear with clean water. After that, hang up your life jacket or PFD in an area with plenty of shade. Let it air dry thoroughly. When it’s dry, you can opt to apply a UV Protectant solution onto the fabric of your PFD.


Clean personal floatation devices don’t have a foul odour. If you smell something unpleasant coming from your life jacket or PFD, then it likely has mould or mildew. Fortunately, there are ways to remove mildew and the odour it brings. In order to do so, you may want to try these two slightly more potent cleaning methods.

The first method is by using diluted hydrogen peroxide. In a bucket, combine two parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide. Use this solution to spot clean instead of the cleaner. Pour it over the stains and mildew that refuses to come off. Then, let the fabric soak in the solution for half an hour. Use your gentle cleaning brush or sponge to scrub them off.

After using this spot cleaning method, proceed with washing the rest of the PFD with diluted detergent water. Then, hang it outside and let it dry.

If spot cleaning with bleach didn’t work, you can try out a second mixture involving salt solution. In a bucket, make your ‘brine’. Fill the bucket up to a water level where it can cover all of the PFD. Then, for every litre, add half a cup of salt and mix well.

When this is ready, soak the entire PFD in it for about a day. Then, after this, scrub off all the remaining dirt from your life jacket with soapy water and a sponge. After that, rinse the jacket and let it dry on the clothesline.

Like any other piece of gear, life jackets and PFDs need some tender loving care. If you haven’t done this in a long while, then it’s definitely time to get on the job.



Is there anything else you can add? Share your thoughts below.

John Steele
John Steele

John loves cooking at home and outdoors, travelling, fishing and discovering a new life. He's got loads of experience he wants to share while he adventures through retirement.