The risk of acquiring a disease or infection from contaminated scuba equipment is low; however, there are many benefits to using clean, well-cared-for scuba equipment. Properly maintained dive gear can last longer and is less likely to malfunction and cause a dive accident. Divers Alert Network® (DAN®) encourages divers to review the manufacturer’s recommendations in addition to the following guidelines when cleaning and sanitizing scuba equipment.
Regulators and Mouthpieces
Before rinsing a regulator, make sure the dust cap is clean, dry and secured over the first stage inlet. Submerge the regulator in fresh water for a short period and gently rotate any moving parts to ensure any salt residue is rinsed off or dissolves. Allow the regulator to dry completely before storing.
As an extra precaution, use alcohol or antibacterial mouthwash to sanitize the second stage mouthpiece. Swab the mouthpiece first, then scrub gently using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Rinse thoroughly, taking care not to press the purge button.
Wetsuits, Booties and Gloves
Unless you dive exclusively in freshwater, it’s important to rinse all neoprene items after every dive. Salt water causes neoprene to degrade and lose its flexibility.
All divers should clean and disinfect their wetsuits, boots and gloves periodically with a prolonged soak in warm water and wetsuit cleaner. Here are the basic steps:
- Undo Velcro and open all zippers
- Submerge and gently massage items
- Rinse thoroughly
- Hang wetsuits on thick hangers to dry with zippers open
- Store in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or near where a gasoline engine is operated
- Always follow manufacturers’ recommendations
- Use only cleaning products designed for scuba gear. Other cleaners can damage or degrade dive equipment.
Mask, Fins and Snorkel
Rinse your mask, fins and snorkel after every use and allow them to dry completely before storing to avoid mildew growth. Use fresh, clean water and rotate any moving parts to remove salt, sand or other debris. Sanitize snorkel mouthpieces the same way you would regulator mouthpieces.
Buoyancy Compensation Device (BCD)
Rinse the exterior of the BCD thoroughly with clean, fresh water. Remove the weight pockets (if applicable) and rinse separately.
It is also a good idea to rinse the inside of your BCD: Start by dumping any water that entered the bladder during the dive, then pour clean, fresh water into the bladder via the low-pressure inflator hose. Orally inflate the BCD and shake the water around the fully inflated bladder. Finally, invert the BCD so that the inflator hose is the lowest point, and dump out the excess water. After a thorough rinse, inflate the BCD about halfway. Allow it to dry completely before deflating it, then store it away from direct sunlight.
Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for proper maintenance, inspect your dive gear before every use, and get it serviced regularly. To learn more about equipment care, basic repairs and maintenance, take an equipment maintenance course.
For detailed information on sanitizing, read Disinfection of Scuba Equipment and COVID-19.