Scuba Gear Maintenance – How to clean and care for your Scuba gear correctly
You’ve already spent a small fortune on your scuba equipment, so why wouldn’t you spend the time to clean and maintain your gear properly?
Cleaning your gear correctly will keep it reliable and in good condition for years to come.
Regular care and maintenance also reduces the likelihood of equipment failure that could lead to an emergency situation underwater.
What to do - The Short Version
Each day after diving in salt water, all your main gear needs to be hung and washed down in fresh water before being allowed to dry naturally and packed away.
Putting your scuba gear in some late afternoon sun to dry off won’t do it any harm, but never leave your equipment in direct sunlight for long periods. Sunlight will cause neoprene and rubber to degenerate, crack and fade.
Wetsuits - How to dry quickly and keep it from getting smelly
There's not much more of a dampener on the start of a dive than putting on a moldy, smelly wetsuit then struggling with a stiff, hard-to-move zipper. It just kind of takes some of the sparkle off of the day.
To make sure you and your wetsuit doesn't become another smelly statistic, use fresh water and some of the cleaning and soap products available on the market that are specifically designed for neoprene. Wash and rinse both the inside and outside of your wetsuit, hood, gloves and booties. Using these products along with some fresh water, will keep those pesky odors away.
Lubricate the zippers of the wetsuit and booties with wax specially designed for diving gear.
Wetsuits need to be hung to dry. Don't hang these on regular wire hangers as these will cause creases and mark your wetsuit. There are wide hangers available especially designed for hanging wetsuits. These have a broad hanging area that won't crease or mis-shape the wetsuit the way cheap wire hangers do. If you don't have wide wetsuit hangers, then fold over the top of two chairs back-to-back if possible.
Hang the wetsuit from the waist area. This means water only has to travel half the distance to leave the wetsuit compared with being hung by the shoulders. This really helps reduce the time it takes to dry, compared to hanging it by the shoulders where the water has to drain down the entire length of the wetsuit before it can dry.
Don’t pack any neoprene gear away until it's thoroughly dry. This also helps prevent odors and mold.
When traveling or when storing your wetsuit for short periods, it’s best to roll it up rather than folding it. Folding can lead to creases in the neoprene which makes it uncomfortable.
Fins and Scuba Mask - How to keep them in good shape
As with all your other gear, your mask and fins should be rinsed after each dive using fresh water. Let these dry off completely before storing.
If possible, keep the plastic inserts that came with your fins. Once the fins are dry, you can use the inserts to help maintain the shape of the foot pocket during storage. Never store fins by standing them on their tips as this causes damage. Hang them using the strap, or place them flat to dry.
Your mask should be stored on its own in a hard case. This protects the lenses from scratching and the silicone skirt from becoming distorted. A hard case will also protect the mask from damage if something accidentally falls on it.
Regulator - How to clean while keeping moisture out of the first stage
Your regulator needs to be thoroughly rinsed off in fresh water, but the internals is vulnerable to damage if exposed to moisture.
Before you start on the regulator, use compressed air to shoot any moisture out of the dust cap. Then secure the dust cap to the regulator. Don’t soak the first stage, just rinse in fresh water. This prevents water seeping past the dust cap.
Alternatively, you can submerge the regulator with the first stage attached to a pressurized cylinder to prevent water from entering the unit.
After rinsing the regulator, allowing it to dry off completely by hanging it. It’s safe to store once it’s completely dry.
TIP: Don’t press the purge button on the primary second stage of the octopus while washing the regulator as this will let water into the first stage.
If you have hose protectors make sure you thoroughly rinse beneath these.
Move the low-pressure inflator connector to get rid of any grit, salt, and sand to prevent corrosion.
Buoyancy Compensator - How to keep your BC working at its best
The Buoyancy Compensator (BC or BCD) can be a bit tricky to clean until you get the hang of it. To keep your BC in good shape, you need to really pay attention to both the exterior and interior of the device. Saltwater can leak into your BC while diving through the low-pressure inflator and dump valves.
Start by rinsing the exterior with fresh water. Then drain the interior. Flush as much fresh water into the bladder as possible through the inflator valve. The easiest way to do this it to hold the deflate button as you flush water into it.
Fill the bladder with fresh water until it’s around a quarter full. Once it’s a quarter full, orally inflate the BC and shake it to circulate the water inside, making sure the water gets to each part of the jacket.
Let the water drain out through the dump values, then rinse these. Repeat the whole process.
Before storing, partially inflate the BC to prevent the inside pieces from sticking together. Make sure you hang it to dry in a cool, shaded place.
By giving it a good rinse and flush with fresh water after each dive, and making sure it's serviced annually, will keep your Buoyancy Compensator working exactly as it should for many years.
Scuba Tanks - The correct way to store your tank cylinders
Don't forget your scuba cylinder in your post-dive clean. Your tank needs to be thoroughly rinsed in fresh water to prevent salt from building up on the cylinder and causing corrosion.Make sure there’s no sand or muck stuck on the tank value. If not rinsed regularly, it will eventually become harder to turn the air on and off.
Correct storage of your cylinder is very important. This is almost like something out of Goldilocks - you can't store your cylinder with its either completely full or completely empty. When it's completely empty, the lack of pressure makes contamination easy. Storing your tank when full can lead to cracks in the tank. Always store your tank with at least 200 psi of pressure.
Tank cylinders must be stored either horizontally, or if upright they need to be properly secured to prevent them falling over. I know it sounds like basic stuff but you'd be surprised how often this is overlooked.
Heat increases the internal pressure of a tank, so they need to be kept away from all heat sources. Increases in temperature can cause the burst disk to rupture.
Don't forget your Diving Computer and Accessories
Even if your knives have titanium blades, diving knives and sheaths need to be rinsed in freshwater before storing.
Make sure any underwater camera equipment is thoroughly soaked and rinsed. Check there are no sand particles in or around moving parts.
All other scuba diving accessories such as a compass, signal buoys, octopus attachment, whistle, etc. should be rinsed and carefully dried before storing.
Gently rinse your dive computer after each dive with fresh water and a mild soap. Use a chamois or moist soft cloth to clean the housing. While holding the unit underwater, press all of the buttons at the same time. Doing this will flush salt from the diving computer.
Pay attention to the water contact sensors and depth sensors that are located on the side of the dive computer. These can be cleaned using fresh water and a soft toothbrush. Store in a dry place after washing and drying.
The time taken to properly look after your scuba equipment will maintain its quality and increase its lifespan.
Remember to always check and test your scuba gear before every dive.