How to Clean and Maintain Your Plate Carrier

Keeping your plate carrier in good condition can mean the difference between safety and equipment failure, or, at the very least, discomfort and funky odor. If your plate carrier is part of an official uniform, there’s a good chance you’re required to keep it clean and looking its best. If you’re wearing a Tactec® Plate Carrier for fitness, keeping it clean is just as important – these items last longer and keep you more comfortable when you care for them properly.

Cleaning a Tactical Plate Carrier

Your life may depend on your tactical plate carrier, which means you have to give it the TLC it deserves. 

Here's what not to do:

  • Never use bleach, harsh chemicals or household cleaning products on your plate carrier. These substances could damage the fibers and render your plate carrier vest unusable. 
  • Never use a washing machine or dryer to clean your plate carrier, and avoid using fabric softener.

Steps to Clean a Dirty Plate Carrier

If you need to clean your tactical plate carrier, start by removing the plates and all your accessories. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Brush away loose dirt and debris. 
  2. Scrape away dried mud and dirt with a dull tool. Sharp edges can abrade the fabric or poke holes in it.
  3. Spot-clean your plate carrier using a soft cloth and mild detergent, like liquid dish soap mixed with water. Wipe away excess water as you clean. If your equipment is stained or heavily soiled, use a toothbrush or another soft brush to scrub the material gently. Pro Tip:Don’t even think about using the wire brush in your weapons-cleaning kit – it will ruin the integrity of the fibers.
  4. If the whole thing needs cleaning, soak your plate carrier in a mixture of liquid laundry detergent and warm water. Agitate the water by hand using the plate carrier's shell. Don’t use a hose to rinse it, because the force could weigh down or damage the fabric’s fibers. Instead, dip the soapy plate carrier in clean water until you’ve rinsed away all the detergent.
  5. Reshape the plate carrier after cleaning, and dry it indoors or in a shady spot outside. Flip it over when the top side is dry.

Storing and Maintaining Plate Carriers

When you’re not wearing your plate carrier, you have to put it somewhere – but that “somewhere” isn’t the trunk of your car, an old foot locker in the garage or beneath a heap of sweaty uniforms or clothes.

If you use ceramic or SAPI plates for personal protection, take them out of your vest when it’s practical. Always keep your plate carrier on top of other gear, where you can see it. Make sure it doesn't hold weight or fall while not in use. 

You can also hang your plate carrier in a closet or on a hook between uses. If you’re storing it for a long period of time, cover it with plastic to prevent dust build-up. Dust can compromise the fabric and performance of a plate carrier, in addition to impacting the way it looks.

Taking good care of your plate carrier, regardless of what you use it for, is incredibly important. With the right treatment, yours can last for years.

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