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How to Clean A Plate Carrier

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The basic cleaning process for a plate carrier is fairly fast and easy, but some care should be taken to avoid a few problems. In most cases you can spot-clean a plate carrier with just a little soap and water. However, after many hours of wearing a plate carrier it can get a bit ripe and may require some deeper cleaning. Cleaning a plate carrier the wrong way can significantly reduce the life span of the carrier or result in complete failure. Under no circumstances should you every place a plate carrier in a washing machine or dryer. Aside from the possibility of shrinking the carrier, using a washing machine can damage buckles and retaining clips. The following instructions will help you get the stank out of your carrier while preventing damage to the seams and accessories.

How to Clean Soft Armor Vests

Note that the soft armor panels should never be submerged in water or exposed to harsh detergents. These steps apply to carriers such as our Level IIIA Wraparound Concealment Vest and Spartan DL Concealment Carrier.

  1. Remove the body armor panels by opening the armor chambers on the inside of the vest.
    • Note that for the Level IIIA Wraparound Vest you must open the zippered pouches at the bottom of the carrier on the inside.
  2. Handwash the front and back of the carrier in cold water using a small amount of laundry detergent. You can remove any Velcro straps to make this process easier, just take note of how they are attached before removing them.
  3. Rinse the carrier well in cold water and squeeze out excess water. Avoid tightly wringing the carrier as this may cause it to stretch or tear.
  4. Air-dry the carrier in a warm well-ventilated location. Outdoors is a good location, but try to avoid direct sunlight to minimize fading.
  5. Once the vest is completely dry, insert the soft armor panels then attach Velcro straps (if removed in step 2). Now is also a good time to inspect the plate carrier for any tears or defects before putting it back into service.

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How to Clean Tactical Plate Carriers

Plate carriers made of thicker material such as 1000D Cordura are less delicate than soft armor carriers, however care should still be taken to ensure the carrier is not damaged during the cleaning process.

  1. Remove body armor panels.
  2. Determine necessity to remove accessories such as magazine pouches and straps. Note that accessories such as padded covers that wraparound shoulder straps or padding inserts should be removed to avoid mold growth during the drying process. Take note of the position and configuration of any accessories being removed to allow for easy assembly after the carrier has finished drying.
  3. Handwash the carrier in cold water with a small amount of laundry detergent.
  4. Rinse the carrier thoroughly in cold water. Try to squeeze as much water as possible out of any padding or thick material on the carrier to avoid mold growth.
  5. Air-dry the carrier in a warm well-ventilated location. Outdoors is a good location, but try to avoid direct sunlight to minimize fading.
  6. Once the carrier is completely dry, reassemble any accessories removed in step 2. Inspect the plate carrier for any damage or defects before putting the carrier back into service.

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Properly maintained, most plate carriers should last for many years. The key is to avoid cleaning methods that are abrasive and expose the carrier to high temperatures. If applied properly, the cleaning methods mentioned above can keep your carrier in great condition or even possibly extend the normal life of your plate carrier. If you have any concerns about the proper cleaning method for one of our plate carriers we recommend that you contact us before you start to avoid the possibility of any accidental damage to your carrier.

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