How to Clean Snorkeling Gear the Right Way

Last Updated: February 21, 2023

Everything we love about snorkeling – taking dips in the water, bright sunshine, and sandy beaches – can be pretty unforgiving to your snorkeling gear. Chlorinated or salty water can lead to a build-up of whitish deposits in and around your gear, while sweat and sunscreen can create stubborn stains.

Luckily, regular clean-ups can help keep your precious mask and snorkel tube looking great season after season. Put otherwise, knowing how to clean your snorkeling gear is just as important as knowing when and how to use it.

I’ve rounded up some clean-up tips and tidbits that can help you extend the life of your gear and possibly even avoid the embarrassment of stinky and stained snorkeling equipment.

Cleaning and Maintaining Snorkeling Equipment

clean snorkel gear

After a long day in the water, it’s easy to simply pack up your gear and store it somewhere waiting for the next snorkeling escapade. However, that can be a great mistake as it can lead to a gradual buildup of dirt and rapid deterioration of your precious gear. In worse-off cases, a film could build up all over your mask causing blurred vision.

You should always rinse your snorkels with tap water the minute you’re done using it. What’s more, you’ll want your snorkel gear to air dry in a well-aerated space away from the glare of the sun before storing it.

While a routine quick rinse session will usually be enough to keep it going, there are times when deeper cleaning is needed to prevent any serious debris from caking on your equipment. For this, you’ll need a gentle detergent (such as dish soap), warm water, and a microfiber towel.

Remember to always let your gear air dry before storing it. Storing it before it dries out completely could trigger mold growth all over it, making it unsafe to use.

Interestingly, no matter the type of water you swim in (be it fresh or saltwater, swimming pool, or ocean water), the risk of dirt buildup and degradation is always there. Some of the key contributors of dirt on snorkeling gear include:

  • Salt
  • Seaweed
  • Sand
  • Chlorine
  • Debris

Let’s break down the specific instructions for cleaning different kinds of snorkeling gear.

How To Clean a Snorkel Mask

There is a thin line between properly cleaning a snorkel mask and overdoing it. Overdoing the cleaning would perhaps see you use aggressive detergents and the harshest brush available. Unfortunately, that can only damage your mask and is, therefore, a big no-no.

So, what’s the right way to clean a snorkel mask? As when you also clean a diving mask, gentleness is the name of the game and here’s how to go about it.

Treating a New Snorkel Mask

Congratulations on your spanking new snorkel mask. But before you head out to the beach with it, you’ll want to get it prepped first so you can get the best experience possible out of it. Most masks come with silicone coating leftovers from the factory and this can cause blurred vision unless you treat the mask first.

  • Step 1: Apply a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on both sides of the mask. Avoid using gel-based toothpaste.
  • Step 2: Spread the toothpaste with your fingers through gentle, circular motions. Make sure you reach every corner of the mask.
  • Step 3: Gently scrub off the oily film on the mask.
  • Step 4: Rinse both sides of the mask with clean tap water paying close attention to the edges where excess toothpaste is likely to accumulate.
  • Step 5: Using a damp microfiber cloth remove the toothpaste and wipe the mask to restore its clarity. You might want to give the mask an extra rinse just to make sure no residue is left behind.
  • Step 6: Leave the mask to air dry away from the sun. You might want to inspect it after a few minutes just to ensure no residue is left behind. If there is, give it an extra rinse and wipe again with a soft cloth.
  • Step 7: If you are a perfectionist, you might want to apply a defogging agent to the lens before using them. However, toothpaste is usually enough for this.

Cleaning a Mask After Snorkeling

snorkel mask

The minute you’re done using the mask, the first thing should always be to rinse it with fresh water. This will help prevent dirt from caking on it in the first place. Ideally, this should be done using the hoses available by the beach or poolside in preparation for advanced cleaning later.

Afterward, you can clean it as follows:

  • Step One: For advanced cleaning, you’ll want to soak the mask in warm water (not exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit). Add a mild detergent to the water. Silicone-based cleaning solutions or mild detergents are recommended. Avoid detergents with harsh ingredients such as petrolatum, alcohol, bleach, or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Step Two: After soaking it for a few minutes, wash it using your bare hands. Avoid scrubbing using abrasive cleaners or brushes as these could damage the brush. If you have to use a brush, it has to be the softest one available to avoid creating scratches on your mask.
  • Step Three: Carefully check all the corners of the mask including the seals to make sure there’s no debris trapped there.
  • Step Four: Use a dry microfiber towel to wipe dry the mask before air drying it away from direct sunlight.

No matter the material the mask is built from, care should be taken to prevent a buildup of scratches on them. The inner part of the mask is especially delicate and should be always handled with extra care.

How to Clean a Snorkel Tube

The process of cleaning a snorkel tube is almost similar to the one of cleaning the mask. The only major difference is that tubes are a bit difficult to reach inside. Nonetheless, here is the process to follow.

  • Rinse your snorkel tube immediately after you are done using it.
  • For the deep cleaning session, you’ll want to start by soaking it in soapy, warm water. You’ll want the tube to remain soaked a little longer than the mask so soap water can penetrate deep inside it.
  • Shake the warm soapy water inside the tube to force out any debris that might have found its way inside there. Afterward, you can shake it out to release the solution and the debris.
  • If you can still spot some debris inside, consider brushing with a toothbrush. Usually, the longer the toothbrush’s handle the better, so you might want to improvise.
  • Rinse the tube with clean water, wipe with a soft cloth, and leave it to air dry away from the sun.

How To Clean Fins

Fins are extremely important in snorkeling as they help you retain your balance even in tricky situations. Here’s how to give them a thorough clean up after use.

  1. Start by rinsing them in clean tap water to get rid of any loosely attached waste on them.
  2. Soak the fins in warm, soapy water for a few minutes before scrubbing them with a soft cloth. Pay special attention to the areas around the foot pockets and the crevices as these tend to provide plenty of space for hard-to-reach debris.
  3. Rinse them well and wipe using a damp cloth before air drying them. Avoid putting the foot pocket inserts back in until the fins are completely dry.
  4. Once fully dry, insert the foot pockets and store your fins by simply laying them down or by hanging them up using a strap if they came with one.


Got burning questions about snorkels and the process of cleaning them up? Well, I’ve got answers to some of the frequently asked ones.

Is it Necessary to Always Clean Your Snorkels After Use?

It is not always mandatory to clean your snorkels after use, especially if it is your own and not rented. However, at the very least, you should rinse them with fresh water and leave them to air dry after every session.

It’s advisable to give your snorkels a deep wash with soap after every 3 to 5 uses. That said, you might need to break that rule and clean them more frequently if you notice they are getting dirtier than usual.

Can You Put Snorkel Gear in the Dishwasher?

You can never go wrong with washing your snorkel gear in a dishwasher. That said, it might be a good idea to remove the mask attachment first so it doesn’t lose its flexibility.

How Do You Remove Mold From a Snorkel?

You can remove mold from your snorkels by soaking them in distilled white vinegar for one to two hours before washing and rinsing them as usual.

How Do You Clean a Very Old Snorkel Mask?

The process of cleaning an old snorkel mask is almost similar to that of newer ones, except that you have to be even more careful and gentle with them. For a more thorough clean up, use white vinegar and water mixed in the ratio of 1:1. This will not only help clean the mask but disinfect it as well so it is safe for use.

Consider getting rid of extremely old and significantly dilapidated snorkels as they might not be safe for underwater use.

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