Fogging in masks is a common frustration amongst novice snorkelers and divers. The task of trying to clear the fog from your mask while treading water can really ruin your experience. Fortunately, a few easy steps can prevent or minimize your mask from fogging. The quick, easy prep and maintenance of your mask will allow you have the best possible experience while spending some time in the water.
Why does a snorkel mask fog up?
The fogging up of a snorkel mask happens when water vapor condenses because there is a temperature difference between the inside and outside surfaces of the lens. The moisture that collects in the mask has to attach to something. That something is typically the residue left over from the manufacturing process that coats the lens, dirt and oils on the lens from normal use and simple microscopic imperfections on the lens. Unless these are cleaned off the lens, the mask will constantly fog up no matter what you do.
Ways to prevent a snorkel mask from fogging up
Pre-treat your new snorkel mask
We get emails from customers asking why their brand new mask if fogging, and the reason is almost always that they didn't pre-treat their mask.The absolute first thing you should do when you get a new (or used) snorkel mask it to pre-treat it. The main purpose of pre-treating your new snorkel mask is to get all the residue from the manufacturing process off the lens. This is probably the number one reason your mask will fog up. All new masks will certainly fog up if this very important step is not taken.
Read our How to Pre-Treat a New Snorkel Mask blog post for specific instructions on that process.
Use a defogging solution
Using some sort of defogging solution will help to decrease the chances of your mask fogging up. A common option is some commercial defogging drops or spray. They can be found for pretty cheap online or at your nearest dive shop.
Another option is using a mild baby shampoo solution. Many divers carry a bottle of watered down baby shampoo with their gear and simply apply a few drops, rub it around and quickly rinse it out. This is a cheap option that works well. Be sure to use baby shampoo and not regular shampoo. Baby shampoo is typically less irritation on your eyes, hypoallergenic and biodegradable which is good for the environment.
Another popular option is to use spit as a defogger. Obviously this is the cheapest option but it is not the option for everyone. This may gross some people out but it works surprisingly well. It is also a great option if your mask starts to fog up while out snorkeling or if you forgot your defogging solution. If your mask fogs up while out snorkeling, simply tread water, spit in your mask a couple times, rub it around, give it a really quick rinse and then put your mask back on. Be sure to get as much water out of the mask as you can before putting your mask back on.
Whether you are using some commercial defogger, baby shampoo or your own spit, you will want to apply it just before entering the water and give it a little rinse. Be sure that after you do a quick rinse that you DO NOT TOUCH the lens. The idea is to leave a thin layer of the defogging solution on the mask, so be sure not to rub out the solution while rinsing the mask. Apply whichever defogging solution you prefer prior to each time you enter the water.
Put your mask on with a dry face
When you put your mask on your face, be sure to put it on with a dry face if you can. Dry off your face with a dry towel if you need to and even wipe off the skirt of your mask. It is best to not take your mask off once it is securely in position if you are able. The idea is to keep as much water out of the mask as possible.
Rinse your mask off after every use
After every use, rinse your mask off with lukewarm or cool water. Once it is rinsed off, pat it dry with a clean, dry towel. Also, be sure to wash your mask every once in a while with mild soap to prevent your mask from getting any dirt or oils from building up on the lens. Again, be sure to pat it dry with a clean, dry towel. Do not store your mask while it is wet. Cleaning and drying off your mask will also help prolong the life of your mask.
Follow these steps above and you're sure to have a fog-free snorkeling or scuba diving experience!