Most swim goggle manufacturers recommend that after use, users rinse them in clean water. I hadn’t rinsed a new pair for about a month, and the caked on chlorine and salts made seeing through them like looking through a kaleidoscope. Opti Sphere, the manufacturer, discourages rubbing the inside surface of the lenses. (They’re coated with antifog treatment.) I couldn’t think of a cleaning method that would both remove the grunge and preserve the antifog coating.
After an easy Google search, I found the answer: white distilled vinegar. (Yes, there’s a website devoted to vinegar.) I first tried the recommended four-hour soak in a 50 percent vinegar and water solution. I saw little improvement. Next, I tried a fifteen-hour soak in a 50 percent solution. Voila! While the goggles were still wet, I gingerly wiped the lenses with a soft cloth that was soaked with the vinegar solution. After a thorough clear water rinse, the goggles’ lenses were restored to like new crystal clear condition.
I’m pleased as punch with this fix. It’s simple, easy, cheap, and effective.
(first published 2 November, 2014)
Update, 21 March 2015 I had a pair of goggles whose lenses were so crusted, that while wearing them it was impossible to read the pool clock . I figured that they were goners, but I soaked them in a 50% vinegar solution overnight, and the lenses cleared a little. I soaked them a second night, rinsed them in clear water, and wiped the lenses with a terrycloth towel. They improved again. After a third overnight soak in 50% vinegar, the lenses are nearly crystal clear!
Here’s what works for me:
- After swimming, immediately rinse goggles in clear water
- Place goggles in protective plastic case to prevent scratching in transit and storage
- At home, soak goggles overnight in 50% vinegar solution
- On the next day, rinse goggles in clear water
- Wipe both sides of both lenses with a terrycloth towel
- Rinse goggles again in clear water
- Replace goggles in protective plastic case
- Transport goggles to swimming site
- Enjoy swimming with clear goggle lenses
I’ve found that the next day once I jump into the pool, if I wipe the lenses with a soaked old swim suit while the goggles are immersed, the lenses become crystal clear.
I guess that the salts that deposit on the lenses are slightly basic. (Chlorinated pool water has a pH of about 7.4.) Vinegar is an acid with a pH of about 3. I guess that the vinegar neutralizes the salts that cling to the lenses, so the salts lose their grip on the lenses. In any case, the vinegar soak solution does work. Try it!
Addendum, February 2016: How to apply anti-fog treatment to goggles