Cleaning Up

chris gabel

Right, so it’s the end of the day or the end of a project. You’re tired, ready to go home. The gear gets piled up in the back of the company truck or trailer. You desperately want a beer and to shake off the day.

Once a bit of a break is over, then it’s time to deal with the aftermath of the project. That means cleaning and maintenance of the equipment that you just got finished using.

In this article, I want to tackle the dreaded task of cleaning up the gear. Your gear is so important, since it is your life support link to the surface world. But it often gets neglected. I think sometimes it’s hard because of finding a good place to start and some guidance on what it means to be “cleaned.”

Like any journey, the difficult part is the first step. I would advise you that the first step is setting up a “cleaning policy” before the projects begin. The cleaning policy outlines what needs to be cleaned, the frequency, and some guidance in special circumstances. I have an example of a cleaning policy below for you to take a look at. It’s not all encompassing, just an example to get you started.

Cleaning Policies

  • Every piece of equipment that goes to the field must be cleaned and dry before storage, even if that piece of equipment does not go in the water.
  • Bare minimum cleaning for non-used equipment is to rinse in clean potable water.
  • For water contaminated with Aquatic Nuisance Species (for example, Zebra mussels) disinfect the scuba gear by spraying with high pressure hot water, 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, or using a disinfectant made of one part chlorine bleach to 20 parts hot water.
  • For equipment that makes contact with bodily fluids, use SaniZide Plus. In 30-second contact time, SaniZide Plus kills HIV, Influenza A2/HK, and Herpes simplex II. Three-minute contact time kills Polio I virus and Rhinovirus. After five minutes of contact time, SaniZide Plus kills Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella choleraesuis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Candida albicans. With a 10-minute contact time, Mycobacterium bovis BCG (tuberculosis) bacteria are destroyed.
the next step is to document your specific cleaning procedures

You’re going to want to set up policies that cover scenarios such as contaminated diving, potable water diving, etc. I would want to also make sure to also assign a person or position to take charge of the actual work of cleaning and someone else to confirm that all the policies and procedures were performed to the standards of the company and/or manufacturer.

The next step is to document your specific cleaning procedures based on the type of equipment and environment you’re working in. It’s important to be granularly clear of your expectations.

another example would be

For example, are there any special notations that need to be made about the detergents or solvents you’re using? For instance, any use of SaniZide requires the use of Latex or equivalent gloves when using.

Another example would be, if you’re using an ultrasonic cleaner. Perhaps you would make note to not use it without being properly filled with liquid. It may sound obvious but it’s not obvious to everyone.

I like examples to help get me started. A sample of one part of a cleaning procedure, in this case, a demand regulator would be:

the cleaning policy outlines what needs to be cleaned

Sample Cleaning Procedures

NOTE: When using brushes, only use brushes that are equal to or softer than what you are cleaning as to not mar the surface of the part.

For example: When cleaning brass parts, use only a brass or nylon brush to clean the part.

  • Clean the regulators with a scrub brush and a non-ionic detergent solution.
  • Remove any gross contamination from the regulator.
  • Rinse thoroughly with fresh water, then spray a liberal coat of solution on and into the mouthpiece and all second stage parts until all surfaces are wet.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes. If solution appears to be drying, apply more solution to keep it wet for the full 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, rinse the entire second stage in a container of clean fresh water, or rinse under running potable water.

This is just an example. Your procedure can be whatever you wish, and I would make it as clear as possible so that cleaning gets completed the way you like it. No shortcuts.

Details, details, right? The more details you put in your procedure, the more likely the cleaning will be done to your expectations.

And the better the cleaning procedure, the longer your gear will last.

Dive Save.

Please send any of your article ideas or questions to Chris at

Chris Gabel is the president of the award-winning veteran-owned company Ocean Eye, Inc. Chris works with companies and government entities to create safer and more profitable environments. Chris’ articles on commercial diving equipment and safety have been featured in several different industry magazines and translated into multiple languages. He is a member of the ADCI Dive Safety Committee and has himself been diving since 1988.

please ask!

In future issues, I would like to continue from time to time addressing your questions. I’d like you to send in some maintenance questions that you want to have answered. You’re the reason that these articles are written, so I want to work on subject matter that you are interested in. Send your questions to me via email at or you can snail mail them to me at:
Ocean Eye, Inc.
C/O Chris Gabel
471 Fairview
Chapel Rd.
Birdsboro, PA 19508