How to Clean Your Scuba Gear & Equipment During a Scuba Trip
Scuba diving is an activity that is wholly dependent on its gear, as we have yet to find a way to stay underwater for long periods of time without the assistance of a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. One of the best ways to ensure that your diving adventures are enjoyable is to take time to care for your kit after each dive. The biggest reason for this is safety. Faulty gear can cause dangerous conditions underwater and precautions can be easily taken to mitigate these problems. A perhaps less pressing, but still important, consideration is cost. Quality scuba gear can be expensive and so it behooves the diver to take good care of each item to extend its life as long as possible.
We’ll look at each piece of gear separately. The strong tropical sun and saltwater can be hard on equipment, causing neoprene and rubber to rot, crack or otherwise deteriorate. Mold and mildew is also a cause for concern, so a proper drying out of all of your gear is a good idea, especially in the tropics where the humidity is high. Each item has its own considerations, but these three rules apply to all:
- Rinse all of the saltwater off
- Store in a secure space to dry
- Keep out of direct sunlight
How to Clean the Regulator
When you return to the dock, rinse your regulator thoroughly with fresh water. Before you start, use compressed air to clean out the dust cap to remove any moisture before tightly closing it. Clean the mouthpiece gently with soap and rinse well. Do a sight inspection to ensure that all of the tubes are in good condition and that there is no visible damage. Hang your regulator up to dry out of the direct sunlight. Besides maintenance, your regulator will need regular servicing. Check the packaging or website for the manufacturer’s guidelines on this.
How to Clean a BCD
Rinse your BCD out and remove all air. Use the weights to submerge the BCD completely and allow it to soak for 20 minutes. Rinse and drain again, making sure to use the dump valves to drain the BCD in order to remove any salt from the valves as well. Drain out all of the water, rinse and drain once more before inflating to about 50%, and hang up to dry. Your Buoyancy Compensator will also need to be serviced annually to keep it in good working order for many years.
How to Clean Your Scuba Tank & Cylinder
Unless you own and travel with your own cylinder, which may not be convenient for travel abroad, cylinder care and maintenance is provided by your dive center, including the refilling of oxygen prior to each new dive. As part of your regular gear check prior to each dive, inspect the cylinder.
Wetsuit Care and Cleaning
Rinse your wetsuit in freshwater, then allow it to soak for about 20 minutes. Wash with wetsuit shampoo in warm water, rinse again thoroughly and hang it to allow it to dry. Ensuring that all of the saltwater is out of the suit will keep the neoprene in great condition. A special wetsuit hanger is designed to prevent the inside of the suit from touching front to back, allowing for good air circulation and quicker drying time, reducing the potential for mold or mildew. Once completely dry, should you be traveling with your wetsuit, roll it instead of folding to prevent uncomfortable creases. Hang for long term storage.
How to Clean Your Scuba Fins, Snorkel and Mask
As with your other pieces of gear, a good rinse and soak in freshwater will help to remove the saltwater completely from your fins, mask, and snorkel. Leave them in to dry out of the direct sunlight, as it can damage or weaken the plastic. Store your clean, dry mask in a hard case to prevent scratches, and lay your fins flat instead of standing them on their tips.
Inspecting, Storing and Maintaining Your Scuba Gear
When you dive through a reputable dive shop, their team will often include the care of your gear as part of the diving package. Check with them at the beginning of your trip and make sure that all of your gear is labeled with your name. There is usually a designated water tub or hose area for rinsing gear on the boat and on the dock. You’ll also want to look into the best place to store your gear in between dives. As each piece will need to be rinsed and hung to dry, it may be most convenient to have your dive shop keep it for you in their storeroom, which will be equipped for storage.
Finally, when you arrive home from your diving holiday, you’ll want to do a thorough inspection of any gear that you traveled with to make sure that no damage was caused during transport. You can then store your gear in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight to keep it in great condition for your next dive. Most gear will benefit from hanging up to avoid folds that may weaken the integrity of the gear over time. Taking a few minutes directly after each dive and again once you return will not only extend the life of your kit, it will save you the hassle of finding damaged gear when you go to pack for your next vacation. As always, thoroughly check and test each piece of gear before your next dive.