Insider’s Tips on Clearing CIF

Part IV

Helmets at CIF 

Before I give any TA-50 cleaning advice you should keep in mind that I’m only a businessman with previous military experience.  I’m not a doctor or a manufacturer.  I will confess that I have used the following cleaning methods in the past, but I’m not sure how safe they are to your health or equipment.  Obviously you will want to read and follow the directions provided by any cleaning products.  You should also follow any washing and dry cleaning labels sewn into your clothing.  Do not follow ANY of my advice unless YOU are willing to accept full responsibility for the outcome.  Bradley’s will not be held legally responsible for any damages.  Once again, gather all of the facts, and use your own judgment before acting.  


Recommended Cleaning Products:

Oxi-Clean            Wisk                      Clorox II               Dawn Dish Soap                                Goo Be Gone

Armor-All            Ajax                      Clorox Bleach     Scrubbing Pads                 Sta-Black Touch-Up Paint            


Cleaning Advice:

Presoaking Method for Clothing:    Fill a bathtub with hot water and add Oxi-Clean (See Oxi Clean’s directions first).  Stir the water to dissolve the cleaning agent.  Place your clothing into the water, and leave it overnight.   


Presoaking Method for Equipment:    Fill hot water into a bathtub and add a generous amount of Dawn Dish Soap (See Dawn’s directions first).  Stir the water to dissolve the cleaning agent.  Place your equipment into the water, and leave it overnight.   


Stain Removal:   Place Wisk directly over the stain, and rub it in well.  Use your finger nails or some type of device to work the Wisk into the material.  Leave the Wisk on the stain for an hour before washing.  Read Wisk’s directions first before conducting this process.


Grease Removal:  Place Wisk directly over the stain, and rub it in well.  Use your finger nails or some type of device to work the Wisk into the material.  Leave the Wisk on the stain for an hour, and then presoak the item in Oxi-Clean overnight.


Black Marks:  Use a scrubbing pad with a strong cleaning agent.  The military issued green scrubbing pad works very well.  Back in the day, I used Clorox, Ajax and a scrubbing pad on my Mickey Mouse boots.  Although this combination works well, I have been told it produces a toxic gas.  If you follow this advice, ensure you don’t inhale the vapors.  As for canteen cups and canteens, I simply used Ajax and a scrubbing pad.  (*Note:  Read the directions provided by Clorox and Ajax first.  Always follow the manufacturer’s directions. Do not attempt to this approach unless you are willing to accept full responsibility for your own actions.   


Soldiers at CIFRemoving Permanent Ink:   Any TA-50 items with writing on it will not be accepted at CIF, so you might want to take a risky approach to remove the permanent ink.  Add Wisk to the areas with writing.  Next use a knife and slowly SCRAPE the stained area repeatedly.  Remember you don’t want to cut anything.  Once again, you are simply grinding or scrapping the surface.  What you are trying to achieve is to remove the top layer of the material without causing any serious damage.  This can be achieved with repetition and creating abrasion.  If you are successful, the writing will be removed, and the material will only show slight signs of abrasion.  With luck, this approach will allow you to clear CIF.   (*NOTE:  I’m telling you up front that this is a risky method.  It could cause damage to your equipment.  Don’t use this approach unless YOU are fully willing to accept the risk.)


Removing Tape Residue:  Over the years soldiers have repeated told me that Goo Be Gone is the best product for removing tape residue.  Once again, always follow manufacturer’s directions when using any cleaning products.


Subduing Brass:  If black metal is revealing its underlying brass, Sta-Black offers a touch up paint.  It’s similar to black nail polish in some respects.  You simply paint the brass black.  In the past, I simply used a black permanent marker to cover unsightly areas.  This process also works well.


Brightening Dull Plastics, Rubber & Kevlar:  Rubber, plastic and Kevlar often forms a white film that is unsightly.  This can be corrected with a light coat of Armor All.  Be sure you don’t put it on too thick, or CIF will reject it.


Avoiding Shrinkage:   Polypropylene, wool and 100% cotton all shrink in hot water or in the drying machine.  This is especially true with polypropylene.  Therefore, wash these items in cold water and hang dry.  Once again, follow manufacturer’s washing instructions.


Rust Removal:  Brush any rust off with a wire brush.  When cleaning your entrenching tool, spray paint the tool flat black after you remove the rust.

Soldier at CIF

Appealing to the Senses
:  I believe it’s wise to appeal to an inspector’s senses when presenting TA-50.  I always used dryer machine fragrance sheets, or I sprayed my clothing and equipment with air freshener.  I would use Armor-All on my wet weather boots, and I covered any exposed brass with permanent markers.  I have even heard of soldiers who actually placed their equipment in the drying machine just before going to CIF.  They did this so the CIF workers could feel the warmth of the freshly dried clothing.  I believe in walking the extra mile while preparing for CIF.  I also believe in appealing to any CIF worker’s sense of sight, smell and touch.   


Official CIF’s Advice:

                The writing in black is CIF’s advice.  I also include my own advice in red:


Barracks bag:   Dirty, Name/Markings on Bag.  SOLUTION:  Wash and remove any name and markings on the bag; Neatly (as small as possible) block out with indelible ink any markings made with permanent marker.  (Any markings deemed too large will require a damage statement)  ETSing personnel must turn in TWO (2) barracks bags.  (*Note:  Most soldiers know better than to write on any piece of equipment for no reason.  Most people know permanent ink will not come out.  In the vast majority of cases the military system has ordered soldiers to write on barrack bags for organization and support purposes while in combat areas.  If you were only following orders when you wrote on this piece of equipment, speak with your chain of command before accepting a statement of charges.  If you were only following orders you shouldn’t be held accountable for this damage.)


Cap, Cold Weather:   All officers and ETS’ing enlisted personnel must turn in a cap.  Wash in cold water paying particular attention to the inside as it may need to be treated with a prespotter and a soft brush to loosen dirt before washing.  Air dry to prevent shrinkage of wool areas.


Carrier, entrenching tool:   Wash in warm soapy water inside and out, using a soft brush or green pad to remove black marks or rust spots.  (*Note:  I also recommend wiping down your carrier with Armor-All.)


Chemical Suit (top or bottom):  Remove any tape from the garment before washing in warm soapy water.  Air dry.  If garment is still sticky where tape is removed, dust with talcum powder to remove tackiness.  (*Note:  I recommend that you wash your NBC suit separately.  Slightly used NBC suits tend to shed their charcoal lining, and it can make a big mess.  It also could leave charcoal residue on your other TA-50 items.)


Coverall, Mechanic’s:    When oil and grease is heavy, use a degreaser on the areas and wash in hot soapy water several times to remove.  Air dry.  Garments that are diesel soaked that cannot be removed may need a damage statement.  Permanent stains are acceptable as long as items are clean. (Hint: If you rub a stained area with a piece of paper and the paper comes out dirty it will not pass inspection).

Duffle Bags:   Wash item using warm soapy water and a soft brush to loosen dirt.  Air dry.  (*Note:  If you were required to write or stencil paint on the bottom of your duffle bag, paint the bottom tan before returning it to CIF.  Never write or paint on the sides of your duffle bag or CIF will not accept it.)


Helmet, PASGT (kevlar):   Suspension webbing must be scrubbed to remove all oils and dirt, using warm soapy water and a soft brush.  Wipe helmet inside and out to ensure cleanliness.  PLEASE DO NOT SPOT PAINT THE HELMET.

Field Pack:   Wash with warm soapy water and a soft brush paying close attention to seam areas where dirt tends to collect.  Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residue.  Remove all names and markings by neatly blocking them out with a permanent marker.


Web Gear (All):                  Wash in warm soapy water, scrubbing with a soft brush.  Putting these items in a washer does not clean most items properly.  Pay attention to seams, folds, and crevasses where dirt tends to collect. Clean inside ammo pouches to remove black marks.  Air dry.  DO NOT MACHINE WASH OR DRY.What's going on here

Jacket, Flyers (CVC):   Wash using warm soapy water paying attention to ring around collar and cuffs.  These areas may need to be scrubbed with a soft brush to remove dirt and oils not removed in regular laundering.


Parka/trousers, Wet Weather:  Wash item inside and out using warm soapy water and a soft brush. Wipe dry with a cloth.  CAUTION: NEVER MACHINE WASH OR DRY!

Entrenching Tool:   Clean and re-paint using flat black paint, spray paint is recommended,.  (*Note:  You could spot paint, yes, but I recommend painting the whole thing.  Once again, go the extra mile even if you don’t think it’s necessary.)


Overshoes:   Wash using warm soapy water and a soft brush.  Remove all black marks from the inside and outside of boots.  DO NOT USE PAINT ON OVERSHOES.  (*Note:  You might want to lightly Armor-All your overshoes, especially on the soles.  It makes them look new.)


White Mickey Mouse Boots:  Over the years I have had many soldiers ask how do you get your Mickey Mouse boots clean enough to clear CIF?  My advice has always been use Ajax, Clorox and scrub with a military green pad.  Recently I have been told the combination of these 2 cleaning products creates a toxic gas.  Therefore, scrub with one or the other, but don’t combine themBottom line, be prepared to scrub hard if your boots have black marks or they’re overly discolored.


Mat, Sleeping:  Scrub mat using warm soapy water and a soft brush or green pad.  Air dry.


Liner, Coat:         Wash in Warm soapy water using a degreaser and a soft brush, paying attention to collar and cuffs for dirt build up. Rinse and air dry.


Suspenders, Quick release:   Clean in warm soapy water using a soft brush to loosen dirt.  Air dry.  (*Note: Soldiers often misplace or lose the lower half of their quick release system.  Be sure you have all of the parts associated your TA-50.)


Canteen, Plastic:   Clean with warm soapy water paying particular attention to the area around the neck where dirt can build up in the crevasses.  The use of a soft brush or green pad will be of help in this area.  Remove black marks and ensure the inside is dry to prevent mold and mildew.  (*Note:  Make sure you have the plastic snapping lid on the top of your NBC cap.  CIF will reject your canteens if it’s missing this small device.  Furthermore, you might want to wipe down your canteens with Armor-All.)


Cup, Canteen; Pan, mess; Fork; Spoon; Knife:   Wash in warm soapy water using a soft brush or green pad to remove rust or black marks.


Cover, Helmet:  Remove rank and wash in warm soapy water. Air dry.


Bag, waterproof:   Wash using warm soapy water and a soft brush or green pad inside and out.  Air dry.  (*Note:  Historically will CIF accept your waterproof bags with pin prick holes, but some military schools will not.  If you are going to WLC you might want to place your waterproof bags over your head, and look for daylight.  If you find excessive light, you may want to purchase another bag.)


Poncho, Wet Weather:   Wash with warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth.  Air dry.  DO NOT MACHINE WASH OR DRY!


Parka, Gore-Tex:   Prewash item using warm soapy water and a soft brush paying attention to the areas around the inside of the hood and collar, and around cuffs where dirt and oils seem to build up.  Wash item in cold water using a mild soap.  Air Dry.  DO NOT MACHINE DRY(*Note:  Look for ring around the collar.  Look for bodily oils and discoloration on any material.  Presoak with Wisk if you have this problem.)



Sleeping Bag (black or green):  Bag may be laundered in a standard commercial washer using cold water.  Wash temperature should not exceed 140 degrees F.  Drying will be on the lowest setting with the temperature not to exceed 160 degrees F.


Bivey Cover (CAMO/Gore-Tex):  Cover may be laundered using a standard commercial washing machine on cold water not to exceed 100 degrees F, and tumble dry using the lowest temperature setting not to exceed 100 degrees F.


 Helmet, Flyers:   Helmet must be clean and inspected by school trained ALSE personnel who are on a valid signature card on file at the special gear area.  Helmet must have a valid Yellow or Red Tag (DD Form 1577).  All Helmets with red Tags (unserviceable) must also be accompanied by a damage statement.  Helmets that have a tag over 30 days old will not be accepted.   NO HELMETS WITH GREEN TAGS WILL BE ACCEPTED!

Closing Thoughts:

                Well, that’s all the advice I have on clearing CIF.  In this series of 4 articles I have provided you with the following advice:

-          Tips on forming a CIF clearing strategy.

-          Tips on understanding CIF’s standards.

-          Tips on understanding your clothing records. 

-          Tips on cleaning your TA-50         (Click here to go to the top of the article)


If you read all 4 articles, visit NCO and read other articles on line, you will be well informed.  If you apply the information you find you will be more prepared than the vast majority of soldiers.  If you are proactive you won’t have any problems, and the CIF process will be a breeze.  As the old saying goes “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”  With this in mind, get in front of the situation, and you will be fine.  (*Note: If you still have some unanswered question feel free to email Bradley’s staff or call (800) 503-4954.  We will do our best to help you at no cost.) 


In summary, good luck in the future and don’t sweat the small stuff.  Once again, if you prepare well in advance you will be fine.    





William G. McKinney

Bradley’s Military Enterprises