How to Clean a Snorkel Mask & Easily Prevent Fog and Damage

Learn How to Clean Your Snorkel Mask to Keep It Fog Free and Long Lasting

As simple as they seem, snorkel and scuba masks need special cleaning and care to prevent damage and ultimately prevent them from fogging up while in the water. So, learning how to clean a snorkel mask correctly while preventing mask fog goes a long way toward making your snorkeling more enjoyable.

No matter if you’ve just gotten your hands on your first mask, have a long-used mask that has been giving you fog problems, or are renting a mask and want to make sure that it doesn’t surprise you with any issues when you’re out on the water, spending a couple of minutes before you jump in really can help you to have a much better time on your trip. After all, what good is snorkeling if you can’t see anything?

How to Clean a Snorkel Mask

So, how do I clean a snorkel mask and prevent fog?

To clean a snorkel mask and prevent fog, clean the mask lens with a very mild cleaner like toothpaste using a microfiber cloth, then apply a simple anti-fog solution like baby shampoo and water, and finally rinse your mask with fresh water after every use.

Sounds easy, right? It is! So long as you follow a few details. So let’s look at what we need to do to keep our masks sparkling clean and fog-free before every dive.

1. Toothpaste Makes for a Clean Snorkel Mask

Foggy snorkel mask
Foggy lenses are a major downer (the snorkeling is still fun, though), so make sure to clean your snorkel mask first by following the steps below.

The number one reason that a snorkel mask starts to fog up is grease and dirt. Your mask lens naturally allows water (even the moisture in your breath) to pass by without sticking to it, but water loves to get cozy with any dirt and grease that takes up shop. A dirty mask is a foggy mask.

It’s normal for a mask that’s been used for a while to get a bit dirty or greasy, but brand new masks can also have this problem. New masks are typically shipped with a thin layer of silicone grease on the lens to protect it during transport and handling which is great for the mask, but not so great for fog-free diving.

We want a clean snorkel mask lens before we get in the water. We also want to clean our snorkel mask lens with a very gentle cleaner (nothing too harsh that might alter the lens optics), and one of the best tools for the job is toothpaste.

Toothpaste is a pretty incredible all-around cleaner and if you use or can buy the type that is actual paste (not gel), like the classic Colgate toothpaste (Amazon), you’re in business. Here’s how to clean a snorkel mask with toothpaste:

  1. Put a couple of dabs of toothpaste on the lens inside (and outside, for good measure) of your snorkel mask.
  2. Use a microfiber cloth (something really soft and non-abrasive) to spread the toothpaste around and gently clean the snorkel mask. You won’t want to use your finger if you can avoid it since it has natural oil on it, and a brush risks scratching your mask and ultimately making fog worse.
  3. After you have lightly cleaned the snorkel mask, use clean warm tap water to thoroughly rinse off all of the toothpaste.
  4. Wipe the lens dry with the part of your microfiber cloth that you didn’t use to clean the snorkel mask.

New masks or very dirty masks might take a few rounds of cleaning to really get them spotless. But, once they’re dirt and oil free, you have a clean snorkel mask and you’re ready for the next step.

2. Apply a Simple Anti-Fog Spray to the Inside of Your Mask

Now, to give water even less of an opportunity to stick to the inside of our lenses, we’re going to anti-fog the lens of our newly clean snorkel mask.

The easiest and cheapest way to go about this is to mix up a small amount of baby shampoo (like the classic Johnson & Johnson’s baby shampoo [Amazon], which is essentially just very gentle soap, which will repel dirt and grease, which will in turn repel fog) with clean water and apply that to the inside of our snorkel or scuba mask.

Clean a snorkel mask with toothpaste to remove dirt and grease
Learning how to clean a snorkel mask with toothpaste and then coating the inner lens with a solution of baby shampoo and water will help you avoid fog while you snorkel.

The ratio to shoot for is about 5 drops of baby shampoo to a few tablespoons of water, but it’s really not an exact science. You just want enough water to make the baby shampoo thin enough that it acts like water, if that makes sense.

Then, the easiest way to apply our new anti-fog solution is to use a spray bottle. Usually, I seem to have one or two empty or nearly-empty spray bottles floating around at home, so it’s not too difficult to find one. I just rinse the container thoroughly, add the water/baby shampoo anti-fog mixture to the spray bottle and spray an even coating on the inside of my mask’s lens.

If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can also just pour a little bit of the solution on the inside of the mask lens and move the mask around so that it evenly coats the inside. Avoid using your fingers since they’ve got oil in them.

(Side note: I wouldn’t recommend applying the anti-fog solution to the outside of your mask. For one, fog doesn’t accumulate on the outside while you’re in the water so that doesn’t really help anything, and two, we should avoid adding any foreign substances like that to the ocean whenever possible.)

Once you’ve coated the inside of your mask, just rinse it with clean water. Don’t get too crazy here — ultimately you want a thin film of the anti-fog solution left over to repel dirt, oil and fog.

Also, it’s best to do this as close to your snorkeling time as possible, so bringing the anti-fog solution with you to the beach can be beneficial if you can swing it. By doing it as soon before my dive as possible, the protection is freshest and has less time to wear down and let any dirt and grease build it on my mask.

What About Buying Mask Anti-Fog Sprays?

You may have seen products around that are specifically made for anti-fogging your snorkel or scuba mask. Do they work? Yes, typically they do work.

But, often times you’ll pay more for these products (though nothing bank-breaking; usually around $10 per bottle) and they may or may not be great for the ocean. I definitely would recommend giving the baby shampoo method a shot first because it’s cheaper and relatively low impact.

If you’re having trouble getting the baby shampoo anti-fog treatment to work for your mask, though,  it’s probably time to consider picking up an anti-fog spray. When considering anything that you’ll be wearing with you into the water, you want to make certain that you buy a spray that’s reef safe (i.e., not harmful to reefs or marine life) like Stream2Sea’s Reef Friendly Mask Defog (Amazon). It’s widely used and is friendly to the fishes.

[This is also a good time to mention that we all need to be sticking to ocean-friendly sunscreens, which you can find over at our guide on the best reef-safe sunscreens.]

3. Clean Your Snorkel Mask After Every Trip in the Water

This is good advice for anything that you wear into the ocean (swim gear, wet suits, action cameras, etc.), but make extra sure to be cleaning your snorkel mask by rinsing it thoroughly with fresh water (not ocean water) after every session.

Otherwise, the salt found in ocean water can degrade the plastic and silicone parts that make up your mask if not rinsed away. This can cause problems with your mask seal, its fit, adjustable straps, etc., so just make sure to give your mask a thorough rinse.

This applies extra to full-face snorkel masks that often have more complex parts than your traditional masks. After every dive, take apart your mask (typically the valve will detach from the top of the face dome) and rinse the mask lens, frame, silicone skirt and also run water through the valve.

How to Keep Your Mask From Fogging Up During Snorkeling

Cleaning your snorkel mask and giving it an anti-fogging as we’ve just done is going to give us the best environment inside our mask to keep our mask from fogging up, but there are a couple of things we can do while we’re actually in or around the water to keep our mask clear.

Snorkel mask left out in the sun
Avoid leaving your snorkel mask out in the sun before your dive. The increased warmth in the mask will encourage condensation and fog when it meets cooler water.

First, before you actually get in the water, keep your mask out of the sun. If the mask heats up too much and then enters cooler water, the warm air inside your mask is going to tend to condense and fog the lens when the mask lens rapidly cools down when you put your face underwater.

Next, if despite all of our best efforts you do end up with some fog in your mask, the best last-resort option is to use saliva. If you can tread water for a few moments and safely take off your mask, just spit on the inside of the mask lens and rub it around a bit. It sounds a bit gross, but saliva naturally repels condensation and can help make your dive a lot more fun than if you’re otherwise fogging up.

How to Clean Your Snorkel Mask After Snorkeling

After every session in the water (and I do mean every session), clean your snorkel mask thoroughly by rinsing with fresh water as I mentioned previously. If it has removable parts (like a one-way valve on a full-face snorkel mask), take those apart and rinse them inside and out. This will keep the salt water from eating away at your mask and will help it to last a lot longer.

Also, it’s a great idea to be cleaning your snorkel mask and applying anti-fog between every session in the water, especially if you did still have some fog show up on your previous outing. This keeps you ahead of dirt and grease, and is just good snorkel mask maintenance.

How to Clean a Snorkel Tube

With all of the attention we’ve been giving to cleaning our snorkel masks, our snorkel tube might feel a little left out. And, while the snorkel tube isn’t really going to hurt or help us in terms of mask fog, it’s another critical piece of our set-up that we want to keep in top shape.

Fortunately, cleaning a snorkel tube is super easy. Just make sure to run fresh water through the inside and outside of the tube to wash away any salt water. If you have a dry snorkel (with a one-way valve at the top to keep out sea water while you’re snorkeling), make sure to run water into the snorkel from the mouthpiece side and let it drip out the top of the valve to make sure it gets nicely rinsed as well. This will help keep it functioning well and doing it’s job the water.

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to put a little bit of antibacterial soap onto the mouthpiece. Nothing abrasive (hand soap or dish soap is fine), but working a bit of a lather on the parts that were in your mouth will keep any bacteria from growing and causing a nasty smell, taste, or anything else you wouldn’t want to put back in your mouth.

Simply being on top of rinsing and cleaning your snorkel equipment after each ocean session will help keep that equipment around a lot longer, so remember to give it a little fresh water love.

(You can find more tips and details about cleaning your snorkel and keeping dry snorkel valves working correctly in our full guide on cleaning snorkel tubes.)

The Deep Dive

A dirty, greasy, foggy snorkel or scuba mask can really put a damper on your plans to experience the magic of the ocean world. Fortunately, with just a few minutes and by taking a few really simple actions to clean our snorkel masks, we can make sure that our masks are fully clean and resistant to fog before and after our dives. It’s a beautiful thing.

Here’s to your next fog-free dive!

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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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