How to Clean Life Jackets


Life jackets protect you from boating accidents. When you are sailing on a lake or riding the rapids, falls out of the boat may occur. In most states, the law requires adults to wear life jackets when boating. In addition, all states have laws requiring children to wear life jackets. It is important to properly take care of the jacket. Clean life jackets after every boat trip and store in an appropriate location.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic
  • Hose
  • Bucket
  • Mild detergent
  • Sponge
  • Spread plastic or a clean tarp on the driveway. Place your life jacket on top. The driveway covering will keep extra dirt or debris away from the jacket.

  • Pour roughly 1 cup powder or 3 capfuls of liquid, mild detergent in the bottom of the bucket. Mild detergents can include Dreft Baby Laundry Detergent or Ivory Liquid Soap.

  • Fill half the bucket with hose water. Then, spray down the life jacket with the hose. Turn it over and soak the backside.

  • Dunk the sponge in the bucket. Remove any extra water from the sponge. Scrub the front of the life jacket with long strokes. Wash the straps and buckles as well. Add additional water and soap if necessary. Clean the front before continuing. Do not apply pressure to the jacket.

  • Hose the soap off the front of the life jacket thoroughly. Spray any remaining suds off the tarp or plastic. Turn the life jacket over.

  • Dip the sponge into the cleaning solution. Wash the back of the jacket with long strokes. Add more water to the sponge if necessary.

  • Rinse the soap from the jacket well with the hose. In addition, eliminate suds from the tarp or plastic.

  • Hang the life jacket in an area with ventilation from the front and back. Do not place near a heating source or directly in sunlight. This can damage the life jacket.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never use any cleaning supplies or chemicals on the life jacket except for a mild detergent and sponge or cloth. Never press, flatten or kneel on the life jacket. This will damage the flotation material.


  • Photo Credit Anne Sinivaara:
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