- Laundry or dish detergent with enzymes to cut grease (Tide, Dawn)
- Plastic bucket
- Soft bristle brush
- Water hose
- Drying rack or clothesline
How to thoroughly clean your PFD?
PFDs should be cleaned immediately if stains like mud, food or sunscreen are visible. Even those that "look clean" should be cleaned monthly or at the end of the season. Every wearing leaves oils from skin and sun care products on the fabric.
Pick a sunny, dry day to do the cleaning. Spread a tarp or plastic drop cloth on the ground and fill a bucket with cool water and about two tablespoons liquid laundry detergent.
Place the PFD, with all straps and hardware unfastened, on the tarp and using the detergent solution and soft brush, scrub each side of the PFD. For tough stains like red mud or food, apply a dab of the detergent directly onto the stain.
Work it in with the brush then allow the PFD to sit for at least 15 minutes before rinsing. Rinse well using a hose or plenty of water smoothing the fabric to get into any crevices. Hang the PFD to drip dry, preferably out of direct sunlight. If you must hang inside to dry, use a rotating fan to speed the process.
Never place a life PFD in a clothes dryer. If the PFD has mold or mildew, move to an outside area and brush away any visible spores before wetting the fabric. Scrub as suggested but add 1/4 cup of oxygen based bleach to the cleaning solution. This will help remove the dark stains. Do not use chlorine bleach directly on the PFD as it will weaken fabrics and WILL damage the interior foam.
NEVER attempt to clean a PFD with industrial cleaning agents or something like gasoline or paint thinner. They WILL dissolve the foam that makes the device functional and weaken the exterior fabric.
Never place a PFD in a washing machine. The agitation will break the foam and render the PFD useless.
When is it time to replace your PFD?
Force 6 PFDs that have received proper care and maintenance: 7-8 years in-service, 10 years from manufactured date.
PFDs should be tested at the beginning of every season or periodically if you live in a year-round water friendly climate. A reputable Force 6 dealer can check the devices or you can do it yourself by testing buoyancy in a pool. A safe device should be able to keep an average-sized person afloat for several hours.
If the outer fabric or covering is torn or has started to split or break down, the jacket is not safe. The flotation material can escape and cause a disaster. If the material is highly faded and you suspect that the fabric is weak, try tugging on a strap or pinch the fabric and try to tear it. If it tears, discard the jacket.
Inspect the foam or padding by squeezing lightly. If the foam feels hard, brittle or broken, the jacket should be replaced.
Any PFD infested with mold should be discarded to avoid inhaling mold spores. It is quite possible that the mold has moved into the padding and the PFD is no longer safe.
Before discarding a PFD, cut off all straps and even cut it into pieces to prevent others from mistaking it as a viable safety device.