How to Properly Clean and Care for Body Armor and Protective Gear

Are you or a loved one looking to take better care of your tactical or protective gear? Are you tired of having to pinch your nose whenever you go to put your bulletproof vest back on? If so, then you need to learn all you can about how to properly clean and care for your protective gear.

Doing so will help you get a higher return on your investment. With thorough maintenance, there’s no reason that your gear shouldn’t last 5 years or longer.

See below for more information on how to clean for your bulletproof vests, as well as other forms of body armor.

1. Store Your Equipment Effectively

Before we dive into a step-by-step on how to clean your protective gear, let’s clear the air. If you aren’t finding an efficient way to store your protective equipment, then the time you take to clean your gear will be all for not.

If you take the time to read the owner’s manual, you will see that they recommend hanging the bulletproof vests and all other gear in designated places. Many law enforcement officers dedicate an entire closet in their house to their protective equipment, that way it can air out effectively.

It’s important to clean your body armor effectively. If you don’t, then it offers the same health risks of wearing dirty workout clothes, such as potential yeast infections, UTI, or really bad breakouts of acne.

For storing your items, make sure you have a place to hang each item. Keep the pieces from touching each other (so that you can prevent the spread of germs). Ideally, you’ll be letting a lot of these pieces air dry before you store them in a closet/drawer, but keep them out of direct sunlight—that can cause color fading.

Make sure there is strong airflow in the room you set them into air dry. If you leave them damp in an enclosed space, the humidity could cause mold to grow.

2. Know the No-No’s

When it comes to cleaning body armor, it might be more important to know what not to do than the steps to cleaning them. Making any of the mistakes below could sabotage the quality, functionality, or aesthetic of your protective gear.

First, don’t ever use a cleaning product with bleach in it. Just like any other towel or piece of clothing, the bleach will cause discoloration on your protective gear. You wouldn’t want to have a giant bleach stain on our stab-resistant vests, would you?

Second, when washing the armor, don’t ever fully soak the material. Doing so can cause severe damage to the protective elements of your equipment. That means no machine washing or machine drying; hand washing and air drying only, people!

Third, don’t ever use an iron on any sort of protective equipment. Some people are tempted to iron out the creases in a stab-resistant jacket, for example. But the extreme heat of the iron will cause the padding inside to warp, rendering them ineffective.

If you ever notice that your protective equipment has been warped or damaged in any way, do not use it. Purchase a new piece right away, as one shot/stab in the wrong spot could be life-altering, and even lead to a fatality.

3. Wipe Panels With a Sponge

When you start the process of cleaning your protective equipment, be sure to have a sponge, bucket of cold water, and clothes hangers within reach.

First, remove all of the accessible panels from your protective gear; getting the padding wet can cause it to warp. Once the panels are removed, dip your sponge in the cold water and wipe (DO NOT scrub) the panels a few times through. Place them on a flat surface to air dry without exposure to direct sunlight.

Have a towel or paper towels laid out underneath the pads, ready to soak up all the excess water as they dry. Let them sit for 3 to 4 hours.

4. Clean the Vest

Once all of the pads have been wiped down and are laying out to dry, it’s time to tend to the material of your protective gear.

Mix a bowl of cold water and a cleaning product void of harmful chemicals (remember, no bleach). You can use the sponge to either dab at the fabric of your vest or gently wipe it down—don’t scrub it.

While you still shouldn’t soak the fabric, it can be a bit wetter than the pads. More water and a bit more cleaning solution can help get rid of the smell.

5. Rinse and Hang

Once you feel like you have thoroughly wiped down the fabric with a cleaning solution, all that’s left to do is to rinse it.

You can run the fabric under some cold running water a few times, but only enough to wash off the visible detergent or bubbles from the surface. If you prefer, you can wet a dry cloth and rinse it that way.

After you’ve rinsed the fabric of your bulletproof vests, place them on a clothes hanger to air dry. Don’t put them in direct sunlight, and make sure they’re hung in a room with sufficient airflow. Let it dry for 2 to 3 hours.

Clean and Care for Your Protective Gear the Right Way

Now that you have seen an in-depth guide on how to properly clean and care for body armor and protective gear, be sure to use this information to your advantage.

Are you thinking of adding to your wardrobe of protective gear? Be sure to read this article for more information on why you should invest in cut-resistant clothing. For more inquiries on our products, be sure to call us at 1-888-924-8072.

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