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Disinfecting Your Diving Equipment

Disinfecting Scuba Equipment

There is a lot of conflicting advice going around about how to safely clean and store your diving and snorkelling equipment between uses in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) world. Given that using the wrong products can either not prevent the spread of COVID-19 and/or damage your diving and snorkelling gear, it's important to get it right.

Diving and snorkelling equipment, due to its nature and the fact that it might be stored in a damp condition, creates an environment where micro-organisms including fungi, yeasts, bacteria and viruses, can multiply rapidly. Fungi are one of the most likely contaminants and these can produce large quantities of spores. Inhalation of these spores can cause an allergic reaction in the lungs, producing potentially life-threatening conditions, particularly in those individuals who may be predisposed to allergy.

This article mentions specific products that are available. These are the products that after extensive consultation and research we believe to be safe to use with most diving and snorkelling equipment. All products are listed at the end of this article, however similar products with the same disinfecting properties are available around the world.

Information Provided By Manufacturers

Diving equipment manufacturers have a responsibility to provide users with the necessary information to carry out effective cleaning of their product. As part of this, users should be made aware of its importance as a critical element of the equipment maintenance regime and how it should be performed in an effective and safe manner. Users should always follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding the correct cleaning of their product.

Well that's the guideline, and some manufacturers have provided information. However, it often conflicts with general information available. Often the manufacturer will mention a specific product, which maybe unavailable in your region. Most fail to provide enough information to enable you to source similar products with the same disinfecting properties.

Disinfecting Regulators and BCDs

Disinfecting.
WARNING do not use bleach based disinfectants or disinfectants known to be corrosive, as these can prematurely age or corrode the equipment being used.

Low Risk Environment

If there is a low risk of bacterial and/or viral transmission (infection from mould and fungal growth or saliva bacteria/viral transmission).

Wash, rinse and purge: After each use wash with warm tap water and dive gear wash or general household dish soap for several minutes to remove any visible dirt and staining. A soft sponge can also be used, taking great care around any rubber valves so not to dislodge or damage them. Ensure that all traces of soap are rinsed and flushed away with clean potable cold water.

Once rinsed, the regulator or BCD should be purged to remove excess water and then dried and stored in a clean dry area to reduce the risk of bacteria growth. This would normally be sufficiently clean for immediate reuse if required.

Medium Risk Environment

If there is a medium risk of bacterial and/or viral transmission (infection from mould and fungal growth or saliva bacteria/viral transmission) from shared daily use between trainees after each training session, then disinfection can be achieved by using an appropriate breathing apparatus surface disinfectant solution.

Wash, rinse and purge: After each use wash with warm tap water and dive gear wash or general household dish soap for several minutes to remove any visible dirt and staining. A soft sponge can also be used, taking great care around any rubber valves so not to dislodge or damage them. Ensure that all traces of soap are rinsed and flushed away with clean potable cold water. Once rinsed, the regulator or BCD should be purged to remove excess water and then dried.

The regulator or BCD is then placed in a solution of 100 parts water to 1 part (100:1) SteriGENE laboratory non-fragranced anti-bacterial solution and slightly agitated initially. Leave to soak for 15 minutes. The disinfectant should be rinsed off the regulator or BCD with running potable cold water and then purged while the mouthpiece is facing up and then down to ensure any residual water is purged from inside the regulator or BCD. The unit is then ready to be reused — or can be dried and stored.

High Risk Environment

If there is a high risk of bacterial and/or viral transmission (infection from mould and fungal growth or saliva bacteria/viral transmission) from shared daily use between trainees after each training session, then disinfection can be achieved by the use of an appropriate breathing apparatus surface disinfectant solution.

Wash, rinse and purge: After each use wash with warm tap water and dive gear wash or general household dish soap for several minutes to remove any visible dirt and staining. A soft sponge can also be used, taking great care around any rubber valves so not to dislodge or damage them. Ensure that all traces of soap are rinsed and flushed away with clean potable cold water. Once rinsed, the regulator or BCD should be purged to remove excess water and then dried.

The regulator or BCD is placed in a solution of 100 parts water to 1 part (100:1) SteriGENE laboratory unscented anti-bacterial solution and slightly agitated initially. Leave to soak for 30 minutes. The disinfectant should be rinsed off the regulator or BCD with running potable cold water and then purged with the mouthpiece facing up and then down to ensure any residual water is purged from inside the demand valve.

Please note, bacterial growth is supported by organic matter on surfaces. General cleanliness is critical, particularly in high risk environments, which can be maintained by the use of soapy water at the start of each process. It must be noted that disinfection will vary depending on the cleanliness of the surfaces. SteriGENE at a 1:100 dilution is effective against most bacteria on contact or after 10 minutes on a clean surface.

Drying and Storage

To dry the unit ready for storage, the regulator or BCD should be purged with the breathing gas on while the mouthpiece is facing upwards and then downwards. This is to ensure that all residual water has been drained from inside the regulator or BCD during the cleaning process.

Disinfecting Masks, Fins, Snorkels & Wetsuits/Drysuits

We strongly recommend using the same disinfectant products used to disinfect Regulators and BCDs to disinfect your mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit/drysuit and other dive equipment. If you're a diver you'll already be set up to use these products for your regulator and BCD. Then follow the same process with the rest of your equipment as described above.

If you're a snorkeller you may choose to use lower cost disinfectant products for your snorkelling equipment. For example, SeptiOne is prepared by dilution to 1:50 in fresh water. The equipment can then be disinfected by soaking it for 10 minutes in a volume of water to which an appropriate volume of product has been added beforehand. This soaking must be followed by a careful rinsing.

Disinfectant Products We Believe To Be Safe With Scuba Diving Regulators and BCDs

These are products we trust to properly disinfect scuba gear against COVID-19, while at the same time not damaging the scuba gear.

  1. SteriGENE
  2. Virkon S Tablets
  3. Steramine 1-G Tablets
  4. Chemgene

The disinfectant and equipment manufacturer's guidelines need to be closely followed to ensure that the dilution of disinfectant and the contact time (time which the disinfectant is in contact with the surfaces of the equipment) is adequate. Excessive contact times or insufficient dilution might damage equipment, while the opposite might reduce the disinfectant's effectiveness.

SteriGENE Clear Hospital Grade Surface Disinfectant 250ml SteriGENE Clear Hospital Grade Surface Disinfectant 250ml
RRP: $50, Our Price: $25, You Save $25 (50%).
Concentrate makes 25 litres of SteriGENE® 1:100 solution. Soak your scuba, freediving, spearfishing or snorkelling gear in a 1:100 solution for 30 minutes to protect from COVID-19. Then rinse off. Once mixed it will keep for up to 12 months.

SteriGENE Clear Hospital Grade Surface Disinfectant 1 Litre SteriGENE Clear Hospital Grade Surface Disinfectant 1 Litre
RRP: $140, Our Price: $70, You Save $70 (50%).
Concentrate makes 100 litres of SteriGENE® 1:100 solution. Soak your scuba, freediving, spearfishing or snorkelling gear in a 1:100 solution for 30 minutes to protect from COVID-19. Then rinse off. Once mixed it will keep for up to 12 months.

SteriGENE Clear Hospital Grade Surface Disinfectant 5 Litre SteriGENE Clear Hospital Grade Surface Disinfectant 5 Litre
RRP: $480, Our Price: $240, You Save $240 (50%).
Concentrate makes 500 litres of SteriGENE® 1:100 solution. Soak your scuba, freediving, spearfishing or snorkelling gear in a 1:100 solution for 30 minutes to protect from COVID-19. Then rinse off. Once mixed it will keep for up to 12 months. Great option for dive centres.

SteriGENE Clear Surface Spray Disinfectant - 500ml SteriGENE Clear Surface Spray Disinfectant - 500ml
RRP: $30, Our Price: $15, You Save $15 (50%).
Ready to use SteriGENE® 1:100 solution in a spray bottle. Apply to your your scuba, freediving, spearfishing or snorkelling gear and wait 30 minutes to protect from COVID-19. Then rinse off.

SteriGENE Clear High Level Disinfectant and Cleaner - 180 Wipes SteriGENE Clear High Level Disinfectant and Cleaner - 180 Wipes
RRP: $90, Our Price: $45, You Save $45 (50%).
Contains 180 SteriGENE® unscented ready to use wipes. Apply to your your scuba, freediving, spearfishing or snorkelling gear and wait 30 minutes to protect from COVID-19. Then rinse off.

Disinfect Your Dive Equipment With SteriGENE

SteriGENE is a Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) registered disinfectant of the highest hospital grade and is approved by them to kill Coronavirus (COVID-19). It's recommended for the disinfection of all dive equipment and breathing apparatus.

Instructions for SteriGENE Use:

  • Select a suitably sizes container/bath/tub in which the dive equipment may be submerged
  • Rinse equipment carefully with clean water to remove any dirt and salt water residue
  • Mix SteriGENE at 1 Part SteriGENE to 100 parts of water to achieve a 1:100 dilution and pour into the container
  • Place the equipment to be disinfected into the SteriGENE mix ensuring it is totally submerged
  • Submerge and gently agitate the equipment
  • Leave to soak for 30 minutes
  • Remove equipment, drain and rinse it with clean water
  • Disinfection is safely completed and the equipment is now safe to use

Note: The SteriGENE after mixing at a dilution rate of 1:100 (1 ml concentrate : 100 ml water) remains active for up to 12 months, so may be used to submerge equipment multiple times, thus making it very economical to use. If there are high levels of dirt etc. still in the tub even after it has been rinsed, we recommend changing the solution in the tub at least weekly otherwise as applicable.

Dive Gear Rinsing

The use of clean potable water for rinsing is essential. The aim of rinsing is to flush away any minute deposits, which could act as nutrients for microbial growth. Rinsing also removes any growth that might already be forming. Where the quality of the available water is in doubt, sterile or bottled water should be used. Sterile water can be purchased, or a suitable alternative can be produced by boiling and then leaving water to cool directly before use. This cooled boiled water can be stored for later use in sealed containers that have been treated with sterilising tablets.

Dive Gear Storage

Once cleaned and dried, the diving and snorkelling equipment should be stored in a clean and dry environment. There should be adequate air circulation to minimise the potential for condensation.

More Information

See also, UK HSE: Cleaning of diving equipment (Adobe PDF | 34.92 KB) — Diving Information Sheet No 12 (rev1), and
DAN Dive Operations and COVID-19: PREPPING FOR RETURN (Adobe PDF | 5.34 MB | 08-Mar-2021) — June 2020.

You might like to read Wikipedia: Cleaning and disinfection of personal diving equipment. Though this web page has some conficting information.

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