Exposure Suit Care Products
Many Mass-Market Cleaning Products Can Damage Your Dive Gear
It is important to only use specialized cleaners for the technical fabrics commonly seen in dive and watersports equipment, such as exposure garments and buoyancy control devices. The benefit of using specialized cleaning products for dive gear is they are formulated to clean and rinse away thoroughly without depositing residues or harming technical fabrics. As a general rule, we don't recommend using anything other than plain fresh clear water to clean the technical fabrics found in modern dive equipment. Cleaners are not routinely needed if you are diligent about not allowing your gear to dry after diving in sea water, and especially in chemically treated pool water, until you have soaked and rinsed thoroughly with ordinary water. Even the best of the specialized detergents and enzyme odor removers should only be used when genuinely needed to remove exceptional soiling.
Detergent cleaners work by reducing the "surface tension" of water so detergent molecules bind more readily with oil and dirt than with other water molecules, thus loosening oil and dirt from fibers. General purpose powerful detergents can harm specialized fabric treatments or even chemically react with characteristics of the technical fabrics. Unfortunately, mass-market cleaning and washing products (such as Tide, Gain, Arm&Hammer, and OxyClean) can also contain harmful additives such as foaming agents, optical brighteners, dyes, enzymes, fragrances and even bleach. The general purpose cleaning products typically leave residues that can impact the performance and lifespan of technical fabrics, particularly their suppleness and water repellency.
One humorous rule of thumb we've heard is don't use anything stronger than clean fresh water until you are complaining about the smell. If you want to sanitize your gear (which also helps reduce certain 'odors'), rather than a detergent or enzyme cleaner as part of your equipment maintenance routine, we suggest using Steramine.