I remember going scuba diving after I finished my certification course back in 2005. I was diving with Dive Duck Key in Marathon, Florida. I could hardly see anything and had all sorts of problems on the dive. My mask was constantly fogging. My solution was to take the mask completely off underwater and put it back on; in essence, rinsing my mask. This became annoying, so I then decided to keep my mask 1/3 full of water the entire dive. I would just slosh the water around my mask while I dove. I was pretty proud of my solution.
After the dive, I was on the boat talking to one of the staff members, Wendy (who later become my boss), about my predicament. She was not impressed with my solution to fix my foggy mask. She asked me if I ever cleaned my mask and I told her, “Yes. I put defog in the mask before the dive.” That was when I first learned the difference between cleaning a mask and defogging a mask.
When you buy a new mask from the dive shop, it will have a film on the inside of the mask. Until you remove that film, you will always have problems with a foggy mask. To remove the film on the inside, get an abrasive cleaner. The cleaning product Soft Scrub works very well. Another common choice is toothpaste, but not gel toothpaste. Mask cleaning requires plain old-fashioned toothpaste like Colgate that is white and has some grit to it.
Step 1: Make sure the mask is completely dry on the inside.
Step 2: Put a pea-sized drop into each side of the mask.
Step 3: Use your thumb and scrub the inside of the mask for 2-3 minutes. Make sure to scrub around the edges. Divers often ignore this area of the mask.
Step 4: Rinse everything out completely: none of this stuff would be good to get in your eye so rinse thoroughly and dry completely.
Step 5: Once dry, repeat Steps 3 and 4 again.
At this point, your mask is cleaned. Now, before every dive, use defog and follow the instructions, or employ the old-fashioned spit method. As your mask becomes old from use, you may notice it starts fogging again. Just repeat the above steps.
If you are using the Aqua Sphera or any mask with a plastic lens instead of glass, do not follow the above instructions. Soft Scrub or toothpaste will scratch plastic lenses, so refer to the manufacturer’s specs to ensure your mask has glass lenses. If you are using a mask with a plastic lens, simply clean it out with a soft dishwashing soap like Dawn the first time you get it. After that, you should be good to go.
You may have seen people use a lighter to clean a mask. While that can work, it can also damage the lens and skirt if not done properly. Therefore, I use the above toothpaste and/or Soft Scrub method. I have cleaned hundreds of masks while working on a dive boat using this method.
If your mask is fogging on every dive, your defog is not defective. You probably just need to give your mask a good cleaning.