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How to Clean Snorkel Gear

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How to Clean Snorkeling Gear

When it comes to aquatic adventures one of the downsides is the gear. You have to buy it, put it on, drag it around, and then finally clean and maintain it. It’s a bit of a hassle but if you don’t take care of it the next time you pull it out you may find it’s not looking as good as when you put it away last time. This guide will cover the proper steps to clean snorkeling gear. And if you didn’t quite get it right the first time we’ll show you how to fix it.


How to Clean Snorkeling Gear

  1. Fill up a bucket or trash can with water
  2. Gather everything together
  3. Immerse mask, snorkel and fins fully
  4. Hang items to dry so water doesn’t pool
  5. Rinse Wetsuit
  6. Hang to dry in a well ventilated place



Things that can harm snorkel equipment


UV Rays

UV (ultraviolet) radiation is harmful to your skin, but it can also cause rubbers and plastics that make up your snorkel gear to disintegrate. Some companies use UV inhibitors in plastics and silicone to prevent their early degradation. Typically higher quality snorkel equipment will have more of these chemicals in them to prevent premature degradation. Brands like Cressi even have special silicone that is resistant to the effects of the sun which can cause clear silicone to turn yellow and eventually a foggy brown. At some point the silicone looses it’s ability to conform to your face and will leak.

a close up of sunglasses

Improper Storage

Once your gear is clean and dry it’s critical to put it away so that it won’t get further damaged. This means fins should be stored flat so they don’t get bent. If they are sitting upright or have something heavy on them and they stay bent for a while they will come out of storage with a bend in them. This means they won’t function properly in the water. This is because plastic has memory. So it will remember the position it was just resting in. This can be especially bad in the trunk of a hot car.



If you get out of the water and leave your snorkel gear in a damp dark place it will stay wet. Also, if you live in a locale where the air is humid and you don’t allow the gear to dry fully it will stay damp. If the gear is stored out of the sun (as it should be) mold will eventually grow on it. This mold can be difficult to spot when it’s Inside of a snorkel tube or on black neoprene wetsuit material. Then you are wearing and breathing mold. Yuck!



Ozone is created indoors by electronics like air purifiers and outside by air pollutants. Ozone is a harsh chemical that causes a strong oxidative effect (think rust) and can damage rubber like the neoprene in a wetsuit or rubber fins. To keep your equipment away from ozone put it inside in a bag. If you’re going to store it for a long time put it in a plastic bad that is sealed from the outside environment. Of course it’s important to make sure the snorkel equipment is completely dry first.



The plastics and rubbers that make up snorkel equipment were all little beads in a factory. They get heated up until they become liquid and then injected into metal molds that create the shape of the snorkel gear. This means that some of the plastics and rubbers become soft when they are heated to high temperatures. This will most likely become a problem with fins. Snorkel fins are designed to be flexible and so the plastics and rubbers they are made from will bend and flex easily conforming to whatever shape they are stored in. If heat is added (in the back of your car’s trunk), they will more quickly conform the the shape they are stored in much like how they were created in a factory.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean a dirty snorkel?

1. Put snorkel in container that is a small as possible. 2. pour a tablespoon of bleach into the bottom. 3. Slowly fill the container with water taking care to keep the snorkel upright. If it’s on its side make sure to get any air out without touching the water. 4. Let the snorkel sit for at least an hour or up to a day in the solution. 5. Remove the snorkel and rinse it and your hands thoroughly to remove any traces of bleach. 6. Leave the bleach solution out in the sun to destroy the bleach. If you can’t leave it out in the sun for a couple of days then pour it down the drain.  Mold can be killed with acid or bleach. Vinegar can also be used but you will need a larger amount. Try 1/4 cup to start. Next you will want to scrub the inside of the snorkel. This is best done by removing the top water diffuser or the bottom mouthpiece or both. A long large bottle brush is the best tool but paper towels will suffice. Tear up a paper towel and form some small wads with the material. Make a small cup of water and dish soap. Dip the paper towel wads in the soap and push into the snorkel tube using a long pointy object like a pencil or a cooking utensil.

If your snorkel is black inside it may be difficult to see if it is dirty inside so we prefer lighter colors like yellow and white. These will also make you more visible on the surface of the water.


How is snorkel gear sanitized?

Kona Snorkel Trips submerges all of its snorkel gear in quaternary ammonium compound for 1 minute. This is rated to kill all viruses and bacteria. For people that don’t have access to powerful industrial cleaners can submerge snorkel gear in a 1% bleach solution


How do you sterilize a snorkel mouthpiece?

Remove the mouthpeice and put in dishwasher or drop in a cup with a teaspoon of bleach. Let sit for at least minutes. If the mouthpiece cannot be removed immerse the entire snorkel in a 1% bleach solution for at least 2 minutes. Clean with soap and warm water first if it’s especially dirty.


Can you put snorkel gear in the dishwasher?

You can but do not use the heated dry function as the heat may cause the thermoplastics to warp.


How do you disinfect a mask and snorkel?

Immerse the entire snorkel in a 1% bleach solution for at least 2 minutes. Clean with soap and warm water first if it’s especially dirty.


Should you use toothpaste on snorkel mask?

Yes. Nearly all glass masks have a coating on the inside that will cause it to easily fog up. By removing this coating with something abrasive like toothpaste you will be able to defog and see through the lens. Plastic mask lenses do not require cleaning and will get scratched by an abrasive substance.


How long does snorkeling gear last?

2 -15 years. This depends on how much it is used and how long it will last.


What do you do with your hair when you snorkel?

Use a wetsuit hood or braid your hair to keep it from tangling.. After getting out of the water use a wet brush and leave in conditioner to detangle.