Cleaning PFD

What’s your preferred method for getting the musty smell out of your PFD? Seems to happen even though I air dry it after each trip.

Not to be a smartass, but don’t let it get musty!

I hose everything down, either at the launch/recovery site using a portable washer, or as soon as I get home. I have a collapsible hanger and everything dries outside in fresh air as long as it’s not raining or windy. If raining, I bring the rig into the garage and open a window. The only thing that hints at being musty is my neoprene boots and gloves > they go onto a boot drier for a couple of hours. No smell afterwards.

I think the key is hosing everything off with fresh water ASAP. The one time I skipped this, my stuff started stinking up the car even during the ride home.


The wqorst place to store PFDs is in the bilge of a boat. Store them so they can dry out. Keep them out of the sunlight. Wash them once in awhile.

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rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat, air dry on a scuba hanger in the shade. Saltwater paddler zero smell on any gear I have. Store it in a dock box on my deck.

If it did smell I’d probably soak it in some Dawn detergent and water in a tub or bathtub and push it up and down in the water for ten minutes. %hen repeat a few times changing the water each time till there’s no more bubbles coming off it.

You could also try Nik wax that they use on dry suits.

Nikwax BaseWash


I drape my vest over a lawn chair on my screen porch. To wash it, someone years ago revommended hair shampoo because its good on skin oils and it’s mild. It works so I never had a reason to change. I use a clean 5 gallon bucket, fill it with shampoo and water, let it soak a few hours, then wash shoes and hat in the same water. Agitate each item, dump the water and repeat with clean water, starting with the PFD, hat and shoes. Let them drip dry on a clothes line. Works for me. Smells like fresh shampooed hair.


I use the same method (5 gallon bucket) but use Dr. Bronner’s almond scented castile liquid soap. Rinses clean and leaves everything smelling like ice cream.

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Good idea! I use Maguiars Car Wash Soap on my car so it spells like bubble gum.


I use pond scum; my PFD’s never smell musty.


Dr. Bronner’s almond is also the best dog and cat shampoo I’ve ever used. Rinses with no residue, is mild so it doesn’t sting their eyes, leaves their coats soft and fluffy and they smell wonderful.


Prevention works the best. Thoroughly rinse the PFD with fresh, clean water after every outing and put outside to dry.

If the smell established itself already, Dawn detergent, some shampoos, or wetsuit wash will get rid of the smell.

If you paddle in salt water, a good soaking in clean fresh water keeps the salt stains away. Rinsing won’t do that. Even worse with sprayskirts and other neoprene gear.

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Cat shampoo? The cats I’ve had would not be pleased with the idea. In fact, any such attempt would require serious first aid … and not for the cat.

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My dilemma is get thoroughly soaked from perspiration. Don’t think a plain water rinse would be effective for me. I think even my eyelids perspire.

I’ve washed cats before… not fun. Used to be the only way to get rid of fleas, now there are much better anti-flea products.

maybe a :nose: malfunctioning :laughing:

Yes, some are like that. But I have had other cats who become sort of “catatonic” when dowsed in a tubful of suds and you can do just about anything to them if you can stand the low whining noise they make during the whole process. Fortunately, the very fluffy orange and white cat I had years ago who kept sneaking out and getting filthy in neighbors’ garages was one such cat and I had to give him regular baths. Then there is the rare cat that actually likes to be in the water – had one years ago that would jump in the tub with me!


True. My daughter had a cat that liked sleeping in the bathroom sink with the faucet dripping.


I wash mine on gentle in my washing machine with some Borax added. Then, I air dry it under a ceiling fan set on high. No problems with a musty smell.

Clean freak! I hang mine in the sun to dry if it gets wet unless it’s salt. A fresh water bath then dry in the sun. Then out of the sun til next time.

20 Mule team?


Yep. Awesome stuff