How to Clean a Snorkel Tube: 3 Quick Steps & 2 Surprises

Learning how to clean a snorkel tube is mostly easy, but it comes with a couple of surprises

Learning how to clean a snorkel tube each time after you’ve used it is pretty simple. But, it’s also hugely important. Cleaning it right keeps your snorkel — as well as the rest of your equipment like snorkel masks or fins — clean, safe and working well for the next time out on the water.

Making sure to clean your snorkel tube after every dip in the ocean is also critical because sun mixed with the salt from the water, if not cleaned off properly every time, will eventually start to wear away different parts of your gear [source]. That’s definitely a problem, not only in terms of keeping your stuff in good shape over time, but also with safety.

Ultimately, everything needs to be kept in good shape to keep water out. And, this is especially important with newer “dry snorkels” (snorkels with a one-way valve at the tip which keep water out while still allowing you to breathe normally) that have more delicate and small parts, but a bigger job.

So, let’s walk through the quick steps you should follow with how to clean a snorkel tube, and also make sure to avoid a couple of potential surprises along the way.

How to Clean a Snorkel

1. Loosen the Snorkel Strap

First, make sure to loosen the snorkel strap that attaches the tube to your mask a little bit, as well as anything else that might be tightened against your snorkel.

Oftentimes this is an afterthought, but it’s easy for ocean salt to build up in the little nooks and crannies created by the small grooves or curves of snorkel straps, so open them up a little bit to make it easier to clean inside them.

How to clean a snorkel tube: rinse it thoroughly
After loosening the strap that connects your snorkel to your mask, rinse it thoroughly, inside and out.

2. Thoroughly Rinse the Snorkel

Now, the most obvious part: thoroughly rinse the snorkel.

Just run your snorkel tube under some fresh, warm running water. A kitchen sink works great. Make sure to run the water both all along the outside of the snorkel, but through the inside of the tube as well. If you have a dry snorkel with a valve, make sure to run some water against both sides of the valve and let the water trickle through.

While you’re rinsing the snorkel, just run your fingers along the plastic anywhere you can reach. Most of the ocean salt should rinse away with water alone, but this will encourage anything left dried or stuck onto your snorkel to wash down the drain.

3. Gently Dry the Snorkel

Now that your snorkel is clean, let’s make sure to dry it properly.

Use a clean, dry towel to remove what moisture you can. You aren’t going to be able to get every drop since the inner reaches of the tube will still be wet, but do what you can.

Once you’ve towel-dried the snorkel tube, let it sit out in the open air for a few hours to let the inner parts dry as well. Don’t put it into storage until everything is dry; otherwise, you might risk mildew or other gross stuff showing up inside your snorkel.

How to clean a snorkel: dry it gently
Allowing your snorkel to dry completely will make sure it’s fully clean the next time you take it in the water.

It might be tempting it put it out in the sun, but resist that urge. Letting your snorkel dry outside is a great idea, but keep it in the shade. Hot sun can potentially warp some parts of your snorkel tube or encourage the plastic to dry out and crack.

Once your snorkel has been dried, you’ve completed the obvious steps of how to clean a snorkel. Easy, right? Yep! But let’s now also look at a couple of surprises about cleaning snorkels that we might want to factor in the next time we clean everything.

Surprise: Use Antibacterial Soap on the Mouthpiece

One thing that many people may not think about when cleaning their snorkel is the mouthpiece, but its something that should be addressed before you rinse out your snorkel.

Your mouth naturally has some normal resident bacteria which is left on your snorkel mouthpiece after use. If left alone, that bacteria can grow into something gross that you wouldn’t necessarily want to put your mouth on again in the future.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, take a little antibacterial soap (hand soap or dish soap works great) and work it along the outside and inside of your snorkel mouthpiece with your fingers. And, while you’re here, you might as well just rub the soap over any part of the snorkel you can touch, because, why not? Clean is good.

When you’re done lathering up, rinse the snorkel tube thoroughly with fresh, warm running water, just like you normally would have. Make sure to avoid using hot water (even though that makes the soap rinse off faster) since super hot water could potentially deform some of the more delicate parts of your snorkel.

The antibacterial soap will lift anything you’d rather not be left behind to be rinsed away and you’ll then have a fresh, clean snorkel for your next time out in the water.

Surprise: Check for Sand Grains in Dry Snorkel Valves

Another potential surprise that many people don’t think to look for is grains of sand in the valve of your dry snorkel.

Everyone who’s been to the beach knows that sand just gets everywhere, and that can definitely include your dry snorkel valve. This is especially problematic, though, because even a grain or two of sand can really compromise the ability of a dry snorkel to function and might lead to a steady dribble of water in your mouth the next time you use it.

How to clean a snorkel tube: clean your mask also
Make sure to clean your snorkel (and your mask!) after every trip in the water.

Most sand that ends up sticking to your snorkel will be washed away when you rinse your snorkel normally, but sand really likes to stick to the soft rubber around a dry snorkel valve if it can. So, after you’ve rinsed your snorkel, take a super close look in good light at the dry snorkel on the top of your tube to check for sand.

If you do see a couple of little granular stowaways, find something delicate like a little soft brush, a paper towel, or something similar that you can get in there to sweep the sand away. Avoid using something abrasive like a wire brush since that might scratch grooves into the dry valve that cause the same problem as sand, but permanently.

Bonus: How to Clean a Snorkel Mask

Once you’ve cleaned your snorkel tube, you should make sure to learn how to clean a snorkel mask as well. Ocean salt loves to wear away at masks the same way it does snorkel tubes. [Source]

Check out our guide, How to Clean a Snorkel Mask & Easily Prevent Fog and Damage, to learn how to clean a snorkel mask with some unique tricks like using toothpaste and baby shampoo (yes, seriously!) Ocean salt will have nothin’ on you.

The Deep Dive

Learning how to clean a snorkel tube is really easy, and for the most part pretty obvious. But, there are a couple of potential surprises to learn to avoid as well.

However, if you follow the steps of loosening the straps on your snorkel, thoroughly rinsing your snorkel and gently drying everything while also paying special mind to using antibacterial soap on your mouthpiece and checking for sand in your dry snorkel valve, your snorkel is going to be sparkling clean and can last you a long, long time.

Up Next

Learn more about caring for your snorkel gear, or learn about finding the right snorkel gear for you below:

Alex Axon snorkeling

Alex Axon

Alex was born landlocked, but has been hooked on the ocean ever since first wading in. He's obsessed with snorkeling as a beautiful and easy way to experience the underwater world, and having been able to learn first hand from in-the-water experience across the world what gear, tips and trips work, he shares that knowledge in the hope that it will inspire others to find their own underwater adventure.

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