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Saltwater can corrode expensive scuba gear. That’s why divers need to know the basics of keeping their scuba equipment in tip-top shape.
More importantly, regular cleaning and maintenance of scuba gear are one of the best ways to ensure your safety underwater. The good news is that you probably already own the main cleaning ingredient: vinegar.
Cleaning scuba equipment with vinegar may be the old-school method, but it’s still considered the most efficient to this day.
So, stick around if you want to know more about scuba gear cleaning and maintenance.
The Benefits of Cleaning Scuba Gear With Vinegar
For scuba gear cleaning and maintenance, we choose white vinegar over commercial cleaning agents any day. Here’s why.
Vinegar is non-toxic, eco-friendly, and even edible. You can use it freely without worrying about inhaling fumes or irritating your skin.
Another critical factor is that it’s not harmful to marine life. So, if any vinegar residue finds its way into the water, it won’t harm any creatures or underwater plants.
Vinegar is probably the best all-natural cleaning agent. Not only because it’s affordable but also because of its antimicrobial properties.
It can clean up salt residue right after your dive, preventing mold and bacteria growth during storage. Vinegar can also help clean up existing mold on your scuba gear that may appear for any reason.
This can also be especially useful if you store your diving equipment for long periods.
You only need a 5% maximum of acetic acid solution to clean your scuba gear. Commercial white vinegar is already diluted at five to ten%, so it’s safe and quick to saturate it by adding a bit more water for a milder solution.
That way, it’s strong enough to thoroughly clean your kit but not too strong to corrode the surface of your equipment.
It can also remove oil and other grimy layers staining your equipment. So, if you’ve used scented cleaning solvents or soap to clean your gear before, you can trust vinegar to get rid of that as well.
The Science Behind Cleaning With Vinegar
Have you tried rinsing your scuba gear with just freshwater but still find salt stains when it dries up? That’s because water by itself isn’t enough. You need to add a bit of white vinegar to break down the salt.
The science behind this isn’t as complicated as you might think. Vinegar is diluted acetic acid, while salt is sodium chloride.
On contact, these compounds form sodium acetate, which is carbon dioxide in gaseous form, and water. Once you put your used gear in vinegar solution, the salt disintegrates and becomes less corrosive, allowing you to quickly rinse off your gear with plain water.
Also, you wouldn’t have to worry about the smell of vinegar. It doesn’t linger and evaporates as soon as your gear is completely dry.
How to Properly Clean Scuba Gear With Vinegar
Here are some ways to help prolong the life of your prized scuba diving gear. Take a look.
Any kind of vinegar should do the trick, but white vinegar is the most recommended. This is because it has the right amount of acetic acid that can dissolve mineral deposits, as well as remove grease and bacteria.
This method is ideal immediately after your scuba diving activity.
- Prepare a 1:10 vinegar solution.
- After your dive, rinse your scuba gear with the vinegar solution to eliminate mineral deposits and dirt.
- Make sure to rinse before your gear dries up, as this would harden the salt and dirt, thus making it more difficult to remove.
- In case vinegar isn’t available, rinse off your gear with freshwater first to reduce salt and dirt buildup.
- Use vinegar later when it becomes available.
This method is recommended if vinegar isn’t available immediately after the dive and your gear has already dried up.
- Prepare a vinegar solution of 1:100.
- Soak your scuba gear in a basin with the vinegar solution for a few minutes.
- Move your equipment around in the basin to ensure that the vinegar makes its way even to the most difficult spots.
- Check if the salt deposits have softened and rinse with fresh, clean water.
- If there’s any corrosion, gently remove it using a toothbrush.
Tips on Scuba Diving Gear Cleaning and Maintenance
Observe proper precautions and give your scuba gear some TLC by doing the following:
Keep Your Equipment Scratch-Free
Don’t use scouring pads or anything that may scratch your equipment. The goal is to keep surfaces smooth to prevent salt deposits from settling in the dents.
As for the existing recesses and inward corners, make sure that you don’t overlook these areas during cleaning.
Water of any kind is considered corrosive in varying degrees, including freshwater. So, it’s vital that you clean your equipment after each dive because you never know the type of minerals that make their way onto your gear.
When soaking your equipment, the duration depends on how long your gear has been left dry without rinsing. Yet, it shouldn’t be more than an hour. Another factor would be whether you’ve previously rinsed off your gear with fresh water or not.
After rinsing thoroughly with fresh water, pat your gear with a clean towel and remove as much moisture as possible. Then, leave it out to air dry, away from direct sunlight.
Make sure it’s completely dry before storage to prevent mold and bacteria.
Vinegar Substitutes to Avoid
In the absence of vinegar, the only safe alternative to rinse your gear with is freshwater. Meanwhile, avoid these other substances at all costs, even if people tell you otherwise.
Avoid bleach, even when diluted, because its fumes and residue may be harmful when inhaled. It’s also highly corrosive, so it’s not good for your skin or your scuba gear.
The same goes for rubbing alcohol. Although it may have impressive disinfecting properties, it’s also more corrosive than vinegar.
In fact, scuba diving equipment manufacturers warn against the use of rubbing alcohol for cleaning scuba gear.
Antibacterial dishwashing detergents are no good, either. They may be non-toxic in small amounts, but they contain artificial fragrances and leave behind a greasy residue.
So, they may seem harmless during the first few uses. Yet, in the long run, they’ll prove difficult to remove.
The Risks of Not Using Vinegar to Clean Scuba Equipment
As we’ve established, vinegar is the most effective in breaking down salt residue. It also does a wonderful job of removing bacteria that may develop into mold.
Salt buildup tends to stain scuba masks and camera lenses, leaving them blurry. It can also leave annoying stains on your suit and regulators.
The longer they stay unrinsed, the more they accumulate and damage your gear. So, rinse with vinegar as soon as possible, and don’t forget to rinse with clean water afterward.
Corrosion is the most common issue among diving equipment. Unfortunately, metal parts are highly susceptible to rust and corrosion if exposed too long to water.
Plus, scuba gears and accessories aren’t cheap. So, you want to keep them in good working condition for as long as possible.
Remember, though, to avoid using undiluted vinegar when washing scuba equipment. Otherwise, you could be doing more harm than good.
Scuba diving gear is expensive, but the cleaning materials don’t need to be. That’s why we’re so glad we have vinegar.
Cleaning scuba gear with vinegar is the first step to gear maintenance. It’s an inexpensive, non-toxic, environment-friendly solution that’s still potent enough to clean and protect your diving equipment.
With this, scuba divers can enjoy their hobby with the peace of mind that their gears are well taken care of.