Being safe in and around water is a must. Whether you kayak, canoe, or paddle, watersports activities require functional safety equipment for you, your loved ones, and even pets. Over time, however, life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFD) may get dirty, discolored, and smelly. Learn how to wash, refresh, and store such safety gear with Revivex formulas.

PFD vs. Life Jacket

You may ask, what’s the difference between a PFD and a life jacket? In general, a PFD keeps a conscious person’s head out of the water. A life jacket, on the other hand, is designed to turn an unconscious person from face down to face up in the water, allowing them to breathe. Life jackets have more buoyancy than PFDs and most of the buoyancy material is in the front of the device.

There are a variety of styles and models of PFDs and life jackets available today. Most have plastic foam as the floatation part with the outer shell made of nylon, polyester, or vinyl fabric. Other life jackets may be made of neoprene. All of these materials can get grimy and funky after regular use. Regardless of which type you own, caring for these safety gear items will be quite similar.


The following steps will show you how to clean life jackets and PFDs. Begin with a clean-rinsing detergent to wash away dirt, oils, and debris. Then use an odor eliminator to remove persistent, funky smells. Lastly, applying UV protector restores colors and keeps gear protected from the sun.Revivex Cleaner Pro

Estimated Time: 20 minutes

  1. Rinse the life jacket or PFD with a hose or water.
  2. Fill the container with 5 gallons of cold water. Add 1 oz of Revivex Pro Cleaner (or Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo for neoprene life jackets).
  3. Apply cleaner directly to heavily soiled areas and gently scrub with soft bristled brush.
  4. Avoid crushing or applying too much pressure to the life jacket or PFD while cleaning.
  5. Dip the life jacket or PFD into the container. Clean the entire surface and straps with a sponge.
  6. Rinse the life jacket or PFD.
  7. Allow to air dry away from direct sunlight; a shady and well-ventilated outdoor area is best.
  8. (OPTIONAL): Once dry, apply UV Protectant to the life jacket or PFD to protect it from sun damage and fading.

Pro Tip: Do not press, flatten or kneel on the PFD or life jacket as it will damage the flotation material.


Don't let smelly gear ruin your time on the water. Once your life jacket or PFD is clean, you can remove stubborn smells like body odor, mold, and mildew by using our gentle deodorizer. 

Estimated Time: Washing: 30 minutes

  1. Fill a tub or large container with approximately 5 gallons of cool water.
  2. Add 1 fl oz of Revivex Odor Eliminator to the water. Stir to mix.
  3. Submerge the life jacket or PFD in the Odor Eliminator solution and soak for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the life jacket or PFD. Do not rinse the life jacket
  5. Allow to air dry completely and away from sunlight/heat. 


Once clean and dry, store your PFD and life jacket properly by following these simple tips on how to store dive and paddle gear.


Pro Tip: For evening paddlers, add a strip of Reflective Tenacious Tape to the PFD or life jacket to stay visible on the water.

No matter what type of life jacket or PFD you may have, it doesn’t have to look and smell bad after years of use. By taking good care of your life jackets and PFDs you can prevent the growth of mold and mildew and extend the life of important outdoor equipment. With Revivex Pro Cleaner and Odor Eliminator, keeping safety gear clean and fresh is simple.


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