COVID-19: Recommended Methods for PFD Sanitation

The CDC says COVID-19 is primarily spread through direct contact, not contact with contaminated surfaces. However, the virus can survive for three days on fabrics or clothing and longer on porous surfaces, plastics, and metals.

If you are concerned about having been exposed to COVID-19 while in your PFD, find some rubber gloves, hand-wash your life jacket (following the recommendations below) and allow it to dry in a warm, low humidity environment for 72 hours.

If you must re-use the life jacket within 72 hours, here are some precautions you can take:

  • Clean your hardware. Clean buckles, zippers, other hardware, and hook/loop fasteners (e.g. Velcro®). This can be difficult as these components are hard to clean due to crevices and metal/plastic construction. You can use a 60 – 90% solution of alcohol to help clean these components. Using a mister or soft cloth soaked in the solution, spray or wipe down all hardware and allow to air dry.
  • Hand-wash your PFD. Do not machine launder life jackets. Life jackets should be hand-washed with gloved hands using hot water (<60C/140F) and mild detergent. Please use caution when washing, as water at those temperatures can cause burns.
  • Dry completely. Viruses thrive in moisture and can survive in cold, but are vulnerable to heat and dry environments, so ensuring your life jackets are completely dry is critical. Heated air drying is recommended (>60C/140F), but use caution as excessive heat exposure can damage life jackets.

Disinfectants and sanitizers, including bleach and medical grade sanitizers, can discolor and damage the fabric on your life jacket and should not be used or used with caution. Here is the EPA’s list of anti-viral products.

The steps listed above are not a guarantee of disinfection, but an attempt to minimize risk. Please take all possible precautions and follow your local regulations with regards to the virus.

For more information, here is a link to the US Coast Guard recommendations for cleaning your PFD.

For further information on COVID-19 and how you can help protect your family and community, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 informational website.

DISCLAIMER: Remember it is not possible to carry out or guarantee complete disinfection, the goal is to minimize risk.