Cleaning Work PFDs

Some of the guys I work with are bridge inspectors, and they use heavy-duty PFDs quite often when working over water.

The PFDs have gotten pretty dirty with use – even oily. They are almost never actually IN the water though.

I need to find the simplest way to tell the guys how to clean them.


are they entering a beauty padgent? They are work PFDs.

They are probably never gong to look
clean, especially if the PFD’s have never been cleaned. Best that you can do is wash them with mild detergent, a rag or sponge, and rinse. The dirt, grime, and sweat stain gets ground in and are almost impossible to get out without ruining the cover of the flotation. If they are that offensive, get new ones.

Ask the manufacturer is always the best
place to start.



Dawn dishwashing detergent
Works on oil-saturated waterfowl, ought to work on PFDS. I would suggest submerging them in a tub for a period of time. Gentle scrubbing with a soft bristled brush to get out the worst stains. A good rinsing is in order as well.


Don’t dry clean them. A front-loading washing machine works fine, or even a dishwasher (dish detergents have enzymes that break down oils, so they work well. Just use half the usual amount so it rinses out.)

You’re kidding …I hope
a PFD in the dish washer???

They are engineers…
might that explain why? :wink:

Good idea
I will look at who made them, and find the 1-800 number to call.

Thanks everyone
These are great suggestions! I am going to print this thread up and suggest these to our bridge inspectors.

it works!
Don’t stick a pfd in with your dishes! But yes, dishwashers work well to clean stuff like pfds that would get thrashed around in a regular washing machine (front loaders aren’t as hard on gear, but toploaders tend to get stuff twisted up and damaged).

forget cleaning them----the bridge inspectors are govenment employees so money means nothing—throw them out and buy new clean ones