When your BCD is left unattended to, or is not properly cleaned, salt residues, sand and other debris can harm the integrity of your BCD and prevent it from performing functionally.
Not only will the salt residue internally and externally start to corrode and weaken your BCD material causing a tear or rupture, you could end up with a ‘sticky’ power inflator button that can potentially put you in an uncontrollable ascent to the surface.
In this post, I’ll tell you how to properly clean and maintain your BCD along with a video and some great tips on how to care for it.
But first, let’s look at other reasons why you would want to clean your BCD after your dives.
Reasons To Clean Your BCD
The BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) is one of your basic components you need to have when scuba diving.
1) Your Investment. You paid a lot of money for your quality BCD.
2) Stress Free = Trust. You tested all the moving parts and did a thorough inspection and now you can enjoy your dives.
3) Keeps you safe. No ‘sticky’ buttons
4) Long lasting. No salt residue. No smell.
5) Keeps your buddy safe too. Your dive buddy will not have to risk doing a quick ascent to rescue you.
How to Clean Your BCD
Video of how to clean your BCD and inspect it!
The BCD is an expandable bladder that you inflate or deflate to adjust your buoyancy.
After diving in salt water, lake water or chlorine water, not only is it extremely important to give your BCD a thorough external wash using fresh clean water, the air bladder internally also needs to have a good wash.
When you’re diving, there’s always water that creeps in thru the dump valves and the low-pressure inflator of your BCD. Washing and rinsing your BCD will also get rid of smelly salt.
First, using a garden hose, give the BCD a good thorough rinse with fresh water to break the salt down, remove sand and any other debris. Remove the integrated weight pouches and rinse them too. If you want to save on water or don’t want to get wet, check out the Xs Scuba Tl112 Bc Wash Out Hose (link) or I’ll tell you more about it below.
In a tub of fresh water:
Inflate the BCD with a bit of air and then immerse the entire BCD in a tub of fresh lukewarm or cool water letting it soak for approximately 30 minutes. Put the weight pouches in the tub too. While they’re soaking in the tub, do the following:
1) Gently scrub the BCD with the palm of your hands to loosen any debris left on the material. Work all the zippers by opening and closing to remove salt and sand.
2) Look for air bubbles by lightly pressing down on the BCD and if you spot any bubbles, make sure to mark their location and hang the BCD on a hanger to dry. Refer to What to do when the BCD has a leak(s) below.
3) Sticky buttons.
Your BCD has several moving parts so you want to make sure they can also move freely. Leaving salt residue, sand or other debris will prevent them from functioning properly.
It’s important not to have sticky buttons, for example, if your power inflator button has sand particles wedged in between the moving part, you could potentially end up with a continuous blast of air going in the expandable bladder from your tank, causing you to do an uncontrolled ascent to the surface.
To check for sticky buttons, press down and release a couple of times on the power inflator button to make sure it freely moves, and do the same for the oral inflator button.
Out of the tub:
Remove the BCD and weight pouches from the tub, and give them another good rinse with the garden hose, then do the following:
1) Manually inflate the bladder by blowing into the oral inflator.
2) Press down on the oral inflator button to allow fresh water from the garden hose to enter into the bladder filling it to about ⅓.
3) Next swish the water around in the bladder by lifting and moving the BCD around so that the entire inside gets washed.
4) Holding the BCD in an upright position, drain the water out from each of the dump valves which will also clean and flush the insides of the valves from any debris.
5) Use a soft toothbrush to brush on the velcro parts to loosen sand and debris.
6) Finally, manually inflate some air into the bladder by blowing into the oral inflator to keep the insides from sticking. Hang on a hanger away from direct sunlight.
Tips – How To Care For Your BCD
It’s important to also take a couple of minutes to do an inspection of your BCD. To do this, manually blow air into the bladder thru the oral inflator..
1) Integrated Weight Pocket Inspection.
Inspect the zippers on the integrated weight pockets by opening and closing. Do the zippers look worn or torn? Do the snap buckles have any cracks?
Inspect the integrated weight pouches by looking for rips or tears and worn out areas. How many times have you sat on the dive boat watching divers stuff as many weights as they possibly can in each pouch. Perhaps you looked at some BCD reviews before purchasing and noticed complaints coming from divers on the pouch stitches coming apart and how they lost their weights. Scary stuff right?
Insert each of the integrated weight pouches (without the weights) into the side weight pockets of the BCD. When securely locked in place, you should hear it snap in.
2) Corrugated Inflator Hose.
Inspect the corrugated inflator hose to look for cracks, worn out areas, rips or tears.
Inflate the bladder manually thru the oral mouthpiece and gently press down on bladder look for signs of bladder expansion loss and then extend the corrugated hose above your head and gently press the deflate button to release the air out.
3) Next, check the dump valve caps and make sure they’re on tight and test each dump valve ensuring the air releases from the bladder. Sticky buttons, get them checked out at your local dive shop, professional help.
4) Inspect the rest of the BCD by checking the material looking for worn out areas, rips or tears.
5) When you’re finished inspecting the BCD, manually put some air in and put it on a hanger and let it hang away from direct sunlight.
What to Do When Your BCD Has a Leak(s)
If a seam on your BCD has come apart, or if it has a large rip or tear, sadly you’re better off to purchase a new BCD. Looking for a new BCD? Check out my review of the Cressi Aquaride Blue Pro BCD.. If the BCD has a small rip or tear, the McNett Aquaseal is a great product to use for the repair.
Thanks for reading and I hope I provided useful information to you. I would like to hear from you and any questions or comments you have would be great. You can put them in the Comment Box below!