Post dive equipment care
After all that underwater fun, be it in fresh or salt water, we have to ensure that we look after our gear. I know, boring right? But proper post dive kit maintenance will save you a fortune in the long run and will make your beloved kit last longer. Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a kit cleaning elf (to my extreme disappointment!) so we have to rinse, disinfect dry and store all by ourselves! As time consuming or boring as it might be, our kit is our lifeline when we are underwater. Particular bits of equipment need specific care, here we have a look at how to clean everything properly.
Rinse your BCD in fresh water ensuring that you clean all of the little nooks and crannies around where the low pressure inflator connects to the BCD, this is where salt or sand and grit can build up if you do not clean after each use.
After rinsing all of the outside, you need to remember the inside of your BCD too. During a dive, water leaks into your BCD through the dump valves and your ow pressure inflator, you need to flush out the inside during your post dive equipment care routine. Use a hose to fllush watr into the BCD via the low pressure inflator. Hold down the deflate button to keep the valve open. Once the BCD is half full you can orally inflate, helping the water to move around in the BCD. Allow some water out through the dump valves as this will rinse them too. Then hold your BCD upside down, pressing the deflate button to let all of the water out. You can repeat this a couple of times before partially inflating the BCD ready to be hung up and stored. Leaving some air inside the bladder prevents the insides from sticking together.
Rinse with fresh water. Be very careful not to get any drips in the first stage of the regulator. This part needs to stay dry as it houses the small components that will be damaged if subjected to any moisture. Getting the first stage wet will mean an expensive trip to the dive technician before you can use the reg again. Before you rinse, carefully dry your dust cap using a blast of air from your tank and replace the cap ensuring that it is fastened securely. Once it is secure, rinse the first stage in water. Do not let it sit in a body f water as this may cause water to seep into the first stage, a big no no. Don't press the purge buttons when rinsing as this could also allow water into the first stage. Move your low pressure inflator back and forth to remove salt and grit and ensure to clean under any hose protectors that you may have. Once you have finished rinsing your regulator, hang it up and allow it to dry completely before packing it away.
Mask, Snorkel and Fins
These items are easily cared for, just wash in fresh water and ensure that they are completely dry before packing them away. Keep hold of the box that your mask comes in when you buy it. This is handy for storage as it will protect the mask from being cracked or broken whilst in the garage or loft! Also, it will prevent the soft skirt from being mis-shaped, this makes for quite an uncomfortable dive! Do not store your fins on their tips. This will distort the shape of the end of your fin, causes them to curve, not a good look and not the best for propulsion through the water!
Wetsuit, Booties, Hoods and Gloves
All of these items, as before, should be rinsed in fresh water after every dive. It is also a really good idea to use a disinfectant or wetsuit soap This will eliminate any odors or build up of bacteria and will ensure that all the salt is out of the neoprene material. Wash all neoprene items inside and outside and hang to dry completely before packing them away. Mildew and mold tend to grow on these materials if they are packed away still slightly damp. Use a purpose built hanger for your hanger to avoid creases that may make the next dive uncomfortable. Also, wire hangers can ear or mark your suit, the wider the hanger the better. You should also lubricate any zips that maybe on your neoprene equipment. This will help it last longer.
It is also important to rinse your tank off after every dive. This will prevent a build up of salt and will also expel any dirt or grit they maybe hanging around the valve. Stand to dry and then store in a safe place, out of direct sunlight. If you wish to store tanks standing up then ensure that they are not going to fall over or be knocked as this can damage the valve and also the tank itself.
Each of your individual accessories will need different care. Cameras need to be thoroughly rinsed, left to dry completely and then opened up and maintained as necessary. You should not keep your o-ring in place as the constant pressure from the closed casing will cause the o-ring to deteriorate quicker than it should. Separate the cameras parts and store in a dry, safe place, ready for your next dive.
Any equipment with buttons, for example your computer, camera housing etc, should be rinsed and all of the buttons depressed to ensure that all of the salt and grit is out of the creases. Rinse and dry knives thoroughly and coat them with a silicone grease to prevent the blade from rusting. Compasses, surface marker buoys, reels, lights, and blinkers should all be rinsed, dried and stored appropriately.
Even after all of this post-dive care, be sure to check and test your equipment before each and every dive. Looking after your equipment means that it will look after you in return!