How to Care for Snorkeling Gear
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How to Care for Snorkeling Gear


Snorkeling is a relaxing and enjoyable activity easily available to anyone with basic water-safety skills. It only requires a few pieces of equipment that rarely break the bank. Plus, snorkeling gear can last years if properly cared for. From mandatory masks and snorkels, to optional fins that enhance the experience, keeping your snorkeling gear in prime condition increases the opportunities you have to snorkel.

To keep all your snorkeling apparatus in good shape, rinse your mask, snorkel, and fins in freshwater to remove any sand or salt crystals. The sun can melt common materials used in snorkeling gear. Keep all equipment out of direct sunlight by drying it in shade after each use. If storing snorkeling equipment in a car, cover it with a towel or keep it away from windows. Learn the specifics of caring for each part of your snorkeling repertoire below.

Mask

Caring for your mask is crucial to reaping the rewards of snorkeling--it allows you to see! Most masks are made from strong, flexible silicone with plastic lenses. The more well-maintained your mask stays, the better viewing of underwater life you will gain from each snorkeling expedition.

  • Before using a new mask, use your fingers and any brand of toothpaste to swab the lens area clean of manufacturing films. Repeat process at least twice before the first use, and every so often to clear out occasional residue buildup.  

    • This process is known as priming, and it keeps the lens from fogging up with the use of anti-fog products.

  • Rinse in fresh water after each use and add mild soap or detergent every so often to prevent discoloration and deterioration of the silicone.

  • Use a small amount of dish detergent and your fingers to clean the “skirt of your mask--the part that rests against your face and seals out water. This cleans off any lotions or body oils that could deteriorate or discolor the mask.

  • Though made of hardy silicone, mask straps will will sometimes break. Proper cleaning after use will prolong strap life, but carrying a replacement set of straps helps in last-minute scenarios, like the reliable Body Glove Neoprene Mask Strap.

  • Consider storing in a protective box or case to prevent scuff marks.

Snorkel

The most iconic piece of snorkeling equipment, the snorkel contains several specific parts. While the breathing tube itself happens to be the most easy component to maintain, its smaller segments require more intensive cleaning. The tube is quickly cleansed with a freshwater rinse after use in salty or chlorinated water. The snorkel's other pieces--the mouthpiece, purge valve, snorkel keeper, and dry top--require a more attentive wash.

Mouthpiece: Mouthpieces are typically made from a soft, silicone material that rests comfortably between the teeth. All of them have “bite tabs that allow you to hold the snorkel in place. Though it requires no special cleaning beyond a freshwater bath like the rest of the snorkel, remember to:

  • Not bite down too hard or gnash your teeth while wearing the snorkel.

  • Check the mouthpiece for wear and tear along the bite tab.

Purge Valve: Many newer snorkel designs include a purge valve to simplify removing water from the tube. A purge valve works as a round, thin piece of silicone that drains water from the tube without letting any in. If it breaks, it will cause water to leak inside. Upkeep your purge valve with:

  • Freshwater washes after each use.

  • Frequent checks for holes or tears in the valve.

  • Thorough cleaning of the seal when rinsing to remove and stray grains of sand.

Snorkel Keeper: The snorkel keeper is the attachment ring that clips the tube to the straps of the mask. It should always rest on the left side of your straps, with the snorkel curving along the left side of your face. Prone to breaking, the keeper can be easily replaced. Or, if it breaks while snorkeling, the tube can be shoved beneath the straps of the mask--though many find this uncomfortable. Avoid annoying tube positioning by:

  • Rinsing it, along with the rest of the snorkel, in freshwater after each use.

  • Checking for cracking or debris that may lead to tears.

Dry Top: Some snorkels come with dry tops at the tip of tubes. Dry tops seal the tube automatically when the snorkeler ducks underwater. Maintain your dry top by:

  • Cleaning it with freshwater after each use and checking for the buildup of debris.

  • Testing to see if the top still closes when submerged before attempting use.

Fins

Ensuring your snorkeling fins stay good-as-new does not rely too heavily on cleaning. A simple freshwater rinse is all you need as far as washing goes. However, fins often take the most abuse compared to the mask and snorkel. Their materials are liable to crack and tear following improper use or poor storage. To best maintain your fins:

  • Do not walk in your fins. Instead, put them on when you are waist deep in the water, or, if the water is too rough, right before entering it.

  • Do not balance on the tips of the fins while in shallow water. It places excess stress on the blades and will cause them to degrade faster, forming cracks where they bend.

  • The rubber foot pocket may start to decay after some time. Prolong its life with a diver's silicone spray or grease.

  • Keep your fins (and the rest of your gear) away from petroleum-based products, which will rapidly wear down the rubber in the foot pockets. This is not a concern for most snorkelers unless they frequently store their equipment on a boat.

  • Avoid storing fins beneath heavy objects--they will be squashed and lose their shape.

  • Dry fins by hanging them in the shade, away from direct sunlight. If you have closed foot-pockets, make sure they hang in a way that allows water to escape to prevent molding.

Long-Term Storage

If you put away your snorkeling gear for the “off-season, proper storage can ensure your equipment stays fresh, and does not become stiff and unusable. Going beyond your usual after-use cleaning, you want to make sure your snorkel gear has been thoroughly rinsed inside and out. Before stowing your stuff out of sight:

  1. Soak your snorkel, mask and fins in warm, soapy water to rid any salt or grime accumulation.

  2. Go over the snorkel and mask with a gentle, bristled toothbrush, cleaning as much as you can, and then rinsing all over again in freshwater.

  3. Rinse fins and check for lingering debris in the foot pockets.

  4. Air dry everything away from direct heat or sunlight.

  5. Store equipment in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, rubber goods, or stiff metal objects.

  6. Consider stowing all items in an airtight container.

Be Snorkeling Ready!

By keeping your gear clean and properly stored, you will be prepared for a snorkeling adventure any time of the year. Equip yourself with everything you need for underwater views with our selection of snorkeling gear from SwimOutlet.com!

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