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.
- 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.