Snorkeling is such a great hobby and traveling to countries trying to find the best snorkeling spots is a great way to see the world. Whether you're a novice or a die hard, there's always something you can learn about taking care of your gear. I put together some tips and tricks for snorkel mask care to ensure that your mask stays scratch free and useful for as long as you're island hopping.
Before you even set off on your first snorkeling excursion, you’re going to need to wash your mask lens. During the manufacturing process, a film of silicone develops on the brand new lenses that makes them fog up very easily and makes it resistant to anti-fog solution. So even though they may be fresh out of the package, you’ll need to get this film off of your goggles using either a specifically made lens cleaning agent or some toothpaste.
Yes! The plain white toothpaste (not the kind with gel in it) is ideal for removing the silicone. You’ll want to rub it onto the inside of the mask and outside of the lens using your finger (no need to involve scratch-causing brushes) and then rinse with warm water. If you can rub your thumb across the lens and it produces a good squeaking sound, you’ll know you’ve cleaned it sufficiently. Remember to do this to both sides of your lens! If you have to repeat the washing process a few times, it’s okay. Just be patient and don’t scratch your brand new mask out of urgency.
If you have an older mask that you’re taking with you on a snorkeling trip, check to make sure everything looks right before packing it, particularly the straps--straps are known to wear out or break before anything else on a good mask. If it seems to have lost its elasticity or has cracks in the silicone or rubber, you’ll know it’s time for a new one.
Tip: It’s always a good idea to keep an extra strap in with your snorkel gear, just in case.
When traveling to and from a snorkel site, be sure to keep your snorkel in something that will protect it from getting scratched or bent. Most quality snorkels come in a plastic container and that’s a good way to transport it, particularly in a piece of luggage. If you don’t have that, a neoprene or soft cloth bag is a good idea. Just make sure it’s sufficiently protected when you pack it.
The Main Event!
When you’re at your beautiful snorkel location, there are a few things to keep in mind during your excursion. You’ll want to be sure you’ve used some anti-fog solution on the inside of your mask to make sure you’ll actually be able to see the beautiful fish and coral you showed up for. Just spray it on, rub around with your finger just enough to cover all the area and rinse off, NOT using your fingers or you’ll undo all the work you just did. You’ll want to apply this every time you get back in the water.
If you’re entering the water from a boat, keep your hand on your mask if you jump in the water so your mask doesn’t shift or fall off.
Try your best not to move your mask off your face and onto your forehead while snorkeling. For one, it diminishes the effectiveness of the anti-fog solution that you just took the effort to apply and you run the risk of losing your mask altogether. Oddly enough, it’s not that much fun to snorkel if you can’t see underwater.
Tip: If you HAVE to remove your mask for some reason, slide it down to sit around your neck and not up on your forehead. You run a lot less risk of having it fall off and sink to the bottom of the ocean and inadvertently giving directions to Nemo’s dad and Dory (P. Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way Sydney…anyone? ANYONE?!).
After your hopefully wonderfully amazing and memorable snorkel, you’ll want to make sure you take good care of your mask so that it’ll last a long time and you can hand it down to your children in your will. Well, maybe not but good care will give a quality mask a long life.
Once you get back to your house or hotel, wash your snorkel mask with warm (not hot) water. If it seems particularly dirty, you can use a soft bristled toothbrush to gently remove any sand or debris that may be stuck in the cracks and crevices. You can also use a mild detergent like dish soap to clean off whatever else may have gotten on the silicone or lens like sunscreen.
Tip: Don’t use something like rubbing alcohol or petroleum to clean your mask. It’ll do more harm than good.
Make sure you dry it off with a soft cloth, not scrubbing hard enough to scratch your lens. Let it dry completely and then store it either in an air tight container like the plastic one it came in or a bag. Store it in a cool, dry place out of the sun.
Discoloration of the silicone is bound to happen, but it doesn’t affect the pliability of it. You can slow down this process by keeping it in an airtight container and not storing it near items with black rubber like flippers or other kinds of dive gear.
There you have it! A few quick care tips to ensure the life of your snorkel mask. Happy snorkeling!