Man in army uniform pointing a gun

Suggestions on How To Clean and Care for Your Ballistic Vest


Body armor that is properly cared for and maintained will protect both your investment and your life while on the job. Taking care of your body armor isn't difficult, but it is critical to do so correctly. To maintain your ballistic vest in good form for as long as possible, here are some dos and don'ts for proper cleaning and care.


What Is a Bulletproof Vest?


Man wearing Bullet Proof Vest

Credit: Zahal


A bulletproof vest, also known as a ballistic vest or a bullet-resistant vest, is a type of body armor that helps absorb the force of a bullet or penetration to the torso in order to avoid injury. Many police officers, prison guards, and security guards use a soft version of the vest (soft armor vest). Soft vests made of metallic or para-aramid components are especially worn by prison guards to protect them from knife attacks and ballistic material. If you’re looking for a safe option, consider going for the YAKEDA Quick Release Tactical Vest or the SITKA Gear Ballistic Vest.

Soldiers, SWAT teams, and special operations personnel all utilize hard armor like the IDOGEAR Tactical Plates, which can be worn alone or in combination with soft armor. This provides defense against rifle gunfire and fragmentation.


The Importance of Cleaning Your Ballistic Vest


woman wearing protective body armor
Credit: Envato Elements/ svitlanah


1) Prolonged Lifespan


Regularly cleaning your vest can extend its lifespan by preventing the breakdown of materials. Dirt, sweat, and other debris can contribute to wear and tear, which may eventually reduce its protective capabilities. By maintaining clean body armor, you can ensure it stays effective throughout its intended lifespan.


2) Maintaining Ballistic Integrity


The primary purpose of a ballistic vest is to stop or lessen the impact of bullets and other projectiles. When contaminants like dirt and sweat build up on the surface, they can compromise the vest's ability to absorb and distribute the force of incoming projectiles. This can lead to a decrease in its ballistic integrity, putting you at greater risk in dangerous situations. Regular cleaning helps remove these contaminants and ensures your vest can function as intended.


3) Preventing Odor and Discomfort


Ballistic vests are typically worn for extended periods, often in high-stress and physically demanding situations. As you sweat and exert yourself, your vest can become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to unpleasant odors and discomfort. Cleaning your vest helps eliminate these issues, making it more comfortable to wear and reducing the risk of skin irritations.


4) Safety and Hygiene


Beyond the ballistic protection it offers, your vest comes into contact with various environments, potentially exposing it to hazardous substances. Cleaning your vest can remove any residue or contaminants that may have stuck to its surface, reducing the risk of contact with harmful substances and maintaining a hygienic barrier between your body and the vest.


What Is the Best Way To Clean Ballistic Vests?


How To Clean Ballistic Vests?


1) Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions


Manufacturer instructions for vests

Credit: Proud Police Wife


This is quite crucial. Because each brand and manufacturer's instructions change slightly, it's critical to read and follow them carefully before proceeding. In addition, care requirements for outer vests and inside vests may differ. Make sure to keep the vest out of harsh temperatures when storing it. To avoid voiding any warranties, it is advisable to keep the vests indoors at room temperature. The manufacturer instructions are normally found on the inside of the carrier vest.


2) Make Use of High-Quality Cleaning Supplies


Cleaning items

Credit: Distance CME


Because body armor fabrics are delicate, it's critical to use high-quality cleaning chemicals at this point. To keep the fabrics and surfaces of your vest clean, don't use strong sprays, soaps, or other detergents.

Because bleach and odor solution sprays include strong ingredients, they are not recommended for cleaning protective gear. They can wear down the delicate fabrics over time, shortening the life of a bullet-resistant vest. If you notice a strong odor emanating from your vest, whether it's due to sweat or another source, you might want to consider using specialized sprays designed for ballistic vests, such as the Arrest My Vest Odor Eliminating Spray.


3) Clean With a Damp Cloth and Hang To Dry


Man with white bullet proof vest

Credit: EnGarde


You don't want to wash the entire vest. Instead, use a moist towel and dish soap or mild laundry detergent to spot clean. Alternatively, you can also use special ballistic cloths like the REPSUPPLEMENTS Gun Cleaning Patches. Although this cloth is made exclusively for guns, you can also use it for your vest. You could also scrub difficult spots/stains with a toothbrush. If possible, remove the ballistic panels before spot cleaning (some are removable, some are not). Please make sure the vest carrier is totally dry before adding panels.

Do not use the dryer to dry. This is not safe for the vest, and the vest's velcro will stick to everything.

You can hang it on a hanger to dry. However, several manufacturers recommend lying vests flat rather than hanging them when storing them. If you prefer to hang your vest, consider using a ballistic hanger like the Tough Hook Hanger.


4) Create a Barrier


Man holding open shirt to show bullet proof vest

Credit: Police1


Wear a moisture-wicking shirt underneath the bulletproof vest to do so. Instead of the sweat going straight to the vest, the shirt will absorb it. It's far more comfortable to wear a shirt underneath.

A shirt also reduces the chance of getting a rash from the vest rubbing against your skin.


General Steps on How To Clean an Armor Vest


Ballistic vests should be cleaned at least once a week. Some plate carriers can be machine washed, but verify the cleaning instructions on the manufacturer's label before doing so. Here are some cleaning suggestions for your carrier vest:


  • All plates and inserts, as well as MOLLE pouches and hardware, should be removed. Remove any detachable straps or closures as well. Separate the pouches and clean them according to the same instructions.
  • Remove any loose dirt, plant material, or other debris using a brush. Using a dull-edged instrument that won't damage the fabric, remove any dried or caked muck. Remove any leftover dirt or dust with a soft cloth.
  • Dab the vest with a rag in warm (not hot) soapy water. You can use light liquid dish soap or laundry detergent. Color brightening detergents should be avoided because they can harm the fabric. Bleach, solvents, and fabric softeners should never be used.
  • Remove any leftover spots with a toothbrush.
  • Never dry the carrier in a tumble dryer. Instead, lay the armor vest flat to air dry or hang it on a hanger. Keep the vest away from direct sunlight as much as possible.

  • Never dry the vest outside, even in the shade. The sun's UV radiation and the heat from dryers can break down the carrier's fabric, reducing its life span.
  • Wearing a bullet-resistant vest that shows indications of wear is not a good idea. This may be life-threatening.
  • Body armor should not be stored in an area with limited airflow.




Overall, the best place to begin while cleaning a bulletproof vest is to carefully read the manufacturer's instructions, just in case their suggestions differ somewhat from those listed above. Ballistic vests, like guns, require special attention when being cleaned. We hope you found this post useful. Make sure to tell your police officer friends about it!

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