life jackets by Miguel A. Amutio

Covid-19: Cleaning and Storing your PFD

Featured image by Miguel A. Amutio

The US Coast Guard Boating Safety Division posted the following guidance from the Life Jacket Association:

If you think your product has been exposed to a virus, clean as recommended by the manufacturer and then let dry in warm, low humidity environment for at least 72 hours before reuse.

Manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and storing your PFD:

To clean your PFD, hand wash or sponge down in warm, soapy water, taking care not to submerge the inflator. Rinse your PFD with clean water and hang to dry on a plastic coat hanger. Do not dry-clean, use chlorine bleach, or apply direct heat. Always store your fully dried PFD in a warm, dry, well ventilated place out of direct sunlight.

Hungarian Viszla wearing a life jacket by
  • Inherently buoyant PFDs (foam) are cleaned in the same manner except they may be fully submerged.
  • If you must reuse your product within 72 hours, the following precautionary guidance is suggested.
  • COVID-19 virus may exist 3 days on or in clothing.  Virus can exist longer on porous surfaces.
  • Synthetic fabrics, plastic and metal surfaces may harbor the virus longer.
  • Buckles, zippers, other hardware and hook/loop fasteners (e.g. Velcro®) are hard to clean due to crevasses and metal/plastic construction.
  • Using 60 – 90% solutions of alcohol sprayed/wetted on these components is acceptable.
  • Avoid spraying inflatables with specific disinfectants that are detrimental to the fabric. e.g. bleach-based products.
  • Do not machine launder life jackets.
  • Life jackets should be hand-washed with gloved hands – wash as hot as possible (< 60C) to kill virus.
  • Ensuring complete drying is critical, heated air drying is encouraged < 60C
  • Virus likes moisture and can survive in cold – virus dies by drying out and by heat, which some fibers can enhance.
  • This pandemic is a new challenge and it is truly not known how all materials and the virus respond to laundry.
  • If hang to air dry, allow 72 hours (3 days) before reuse.
  • Do not share garments.

DISCLAIMER: Remember it is not possible to carry out or guarantee complete disinfection, the goal is to minimize risk.

Posted in Boats and Gear.