Gear Maintenance

Keeping your scuba equipment in good working order is a topic often discussed. Although it can seem arduous, it’s well worth it financially to care for your gear diligently. Following are a few easy tips when it comes to scuba gear maintenance.

Mask

How to clean:

Here’s a little bit of preventative knowledge: Bacteria in saliva will make itself right at home in the skirt of your mask, so no more spitting to de-fog. Baby shampoo is cheap; it does the trick; it makes your mask smell sweet; and it is kind to your eyes.

Post-dive mask care is as easy as soaking it in fresh, warm water to dissolve the salt. If you want to give your mask a good scrub, use a toothbrush and keep your oily fingers out of it.

How to store:

Towel dry your mask well. Water, like saliva, is very chummy with bacteria and bad odors. Once your mask is completely dry, store in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. If you’re not storing it in the original box, angle it upward to avoid scratching the lenses. If your mask has a clear skirt, keep it away from your other gear, as the black pigments will discolor it.

How to travel:

Although your mask is durable, you do need to protect the lenses from scratching. If you want to leave that space-occupying case at home when traveling, wrap your mask in some clothes before packing it. If it’s an expensive prescription mask, pack it with your carry on.

Wetsuit

How to clean:

Let it soak in warm water for a few minutes. Knead the neoprene to clean those often-missed areas and then thoroughly rinse the suit. And remember, because people tend to forget: Your wetsuit has an inside too, so turn it inside out and repeat. After the last dive of your trip, soak your suit in a bit of diluted cleaner, such as a mild dish detergent. And please, for the love of your suit, keep it away from the washing machine and dryer.

How to store:

Keep it away from sunlight in a cool, dry place. Hanging it by the shoulders will make it lose its shape, so instead fold it over a non-wire hanger with the zippers open. Once dry, turn it inside out because, remember: two sides. You can leave your wetsuit to hang there and call it stored — it would not appreciate being crammed into a drawer, anyway.

How to travel:

Once completely dry, your wetsuit will not be too picky about how you pack it; you can even use it as padding for some of your other dive equipment. At your travel destination, don’t be so aggressive when getting in and out of your wetsuit. Be good to the seams and the zippers and they’ll last longer.

BCD

How to clean:

Soak it in a tank of fresh water and clean the outside, and don’t forget: your BCD has an inside too. So fill the BCD with water and orally inflate it to help the water swoosh around inside. You can drain it through the mouthpiece by holding it upside down, squeezing it and depressing the deflator. Repeat this action until you’ve rid your BCD of any salty residue, because if salt crystals form, they can stab your poor BCD from the inside. But here’s some good news about salt water: it helps protect against fungus and mold, so the more you dive in salt water, the better.

How to store:

Get rid of any wet air, the same way that you drained your BCD when you cleaned it. Before hanging it somewhere cool, dry and out of direct sunlight, orally inflate the BC to prevent the sides from sticking to each other. Hang it with the hose facing down so those last droplets can find their way out. If you want to be extra nice, rub a light coat of wax onto the zippers. As for storing, your BCD is happy to stay right there until you take it on the next dive.

How to travel:

Make sure your BCD is dry before packing it; you don’t need to take mold on your vacation with you. Fold the sides in tightly, and pack it first. Your BCD won’t mind acting as a pad for the rest of your gear, as long as you keep it away from anything that can puncture it.

Regulator

How to clean:

Keeping your reg clean begins with gear assembly. Before securing your first stage onto the tank, release a little bit of air. With that puff of air, any debris that might have been in the tank will be released as well. Post-dive, dry the dust cap before replacing it. Then soak the regulator for a few minutes in fresh water and rinse, making sure not to purge the second stage, as you do not want any water creeping into the hoses. To feel certain, you can secure the reg onto a tank and purge it before storing. Using a bit of anti-bacterial cleaner on your mouthpiece is worthwhile as well.

How to store:

Keep it in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. Sensing a pattern? Keep your reg with your BCD; regulators like to hang too. If you want your regulator to look extra fresh, before storing it, spray some silicone conditioner onto a rag and wipe it down. You’ll have the shiniest reg around.

How to travel:

There are padded bags designed especially for regulator travel, but it’ll hold up just fine if you wrap it in some clothes before packing it. If you can spare the space, put it in your carry-on.

Fins

How to clean:

These guys aren’t too fussy. As long as you soak them in fresh water and rinse away the salt, they’ll keep their flexibility and they’ll keep smelling okay. If you’re feeling particularly giving, spray silicone conditioner on the rubber parts.

How to store:

Cool. Dry. Place. No sunlight. Do not stack them up against a wall; this will make them lose their shape and fins are useless without their shape. Lie them down vertically or hang them by their strap. Bonus points if you store them with an insert.

How to travel:

Make sure your bag is big enough for your fins. Pack them in the sides, making sure they don’t bend (see above paragraph about fins maintaining their shape) Your fins can help you be thrifty with your baggage real estate; pack items like socks into the feet openings.

So from now on, no excuses when it comes to scuba gear maintenance. If you didn’t before, now you know how to easily clean, store, and pack your dive gear. And all that money you don’t have to spend on replacing it? Properly pack those bags for another dive trip.

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