The first few days of wearing a new pair of goggles is absolute bliss. It doesn’t fog up, doesn’t leak, fits you perfectly, and you can focus on swimming uninterrupted just like God intended. Unfortunately, this state of bliss doesn’t last very long, and soon you are contending with fog, leaks, and loose straps. Not good, especially if it happens much sooner than you expect, but what can you do about it?
How long your goggles last depends on its quality, how often you go swimming, the conditions you go swimming in, and whether you are taking good care of it. It is estimated that a pair of goggles that is used 4-5 times a week could last 3-5 months, or approximately 90-120 hours. You can extend its life by taking better care of it and buying a high quality pair to begin with.
For example, you can wash the goggles’ lenses with baby shampoo or toothpaste to get rid of any oil and dirt. You can apply anti-fog spray or wipes to ensure the lenses remain clear of any fog. You can even replace the straps with new ones if they have gotten loose or no longer feel comfortable. A well-maintained pair of goggles can last a long time, but a poorly maintained pair might not even last a month.
In this article, we will go over the key factors that affect how long your goggles last, as well as provide tips on how to help you maximize your goggles’ longevity. At some point, your goggles will need to be replaced, and we will discuss how you can determine what that point is and how you can select a new pair. Let’s dive in.
How often are you swimming?
Even if you are taking excellent care of your goggles, they can still get worn out just through frequent use. As mentioned, a ballpark for how long a pair of goggles last is around 3-5 months assuming you are swimming 4-5 times a week.
If you swim more than that, it will get worn out even faster; less than that, and it will last longer. A recreational swimmer who maybe only goes swimming a handful of times a month can potentially use the same pair of goggles for years.
Another way of thinking about how long they last is in the number of hours they are actually in use, which we estimate to be around 90-120 hours. Naturally, someone who swims more often will reach that number much faster than someone who swims less often.
Where are you swimming?
Swimming outdoors can cause your goggles to deteriorate faster. Technically, swimming both indoors and outdoors causes wear and tear because both saltwater and chlorine can deteriorate your goggles over time.
On top of that, swimming outdoors also exposes your goggles to the sun’s UV rays, which can cause your goggles to deteriorate even faster.
You also have to worry about any physical damage that might occur to your goggles, such as scratches or impacts. Be careful when swimming in murky water because you might accidentally swim into a sharp coral, jagged rocks, or any number of objects out in the ocean or lake.
Even at an indoor pool, you have to be careful not to collide with other swimmers and to stay away from kids wildly swinging their kickboards or pool noodles.
Are your goggles high quality?
A dilemma all shoppers must face is whether they want to fork over the extra cash to buy the high-end product or the entry-level one. Obviously, goggles made with high quality materials last longer than lower quality ones.
What this means is that you should be looking for polycarbonate lenses since they are more durable and less likely to get scratched while swimming or tumbling around in your swim bag.
Preferably, your goggles should come with silicone gaskets which stand up to heat and chlorine better than other rubber synthetic materials.
Most premium goggles come with an anti-fog coating on the lenses so that you don’t have to worry about using anti-fog or saliva to keep the fog away, at least initially. All anti-fog coatings will eventually wear off, but don’t contribute to it by touching the lenses with your fingers.
The most sensitive part of a pair of goggles is the straps. Lower quality goggles come with a thin silicone cord which won’t last very long. Ideally, you should get a pair of goggles with neoprene straps which are much more durable and may even outlast the rest of the goggles.
When should you replace a pair of goggles?
As your goggles approach the end of their lifespan, you may start to notice that it’s starting to fail you. Perhaps before you could get through an entire swim session without even taking off your goggles once, but now you have to frequently clear the mask of any fog or water that leaked in.
When goggles are worn out, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are completely broken, just that they are quickly becoming ineffective and annoying to deal with. On the surface a pair of goggles can seem fine, but if you can’t swim for more than a few minutes without taking it off, then something’s wrong.
You might notice permanent watermarks on the lens which obscure your vision, or perhaps the straps can’t seem to stay tightened up. Water leaks are often caused by the goggles not sealing tightly on your face, and a loose strap can contribute to that, but it typically indicates a deterioration of the rubber gaskets as well.
Constant fogging of the lenses indicates that the anti-fog protective layer has all but worn off. At this point, applying a surfactant to the lenses, such as anti-fog sprays, wipes, or your own saliva is necessary to prevent the mask from fogging up.
Goggles naturally wear out and need to be replaced, so it’s nothing to be mad about. If you can pay $20 for a pair that lasts a solid 5 months of swimming, then that’s a really good return on your investment.
How to take care of your goggles so they last longer
Caring for your goggles is very straightforward, which means you don’t have an excuse not to clean it.
First things first, after each swimming season give your goggles a thorough rinse with fresh water to get rid of any chlorine, salt, sand, dirt, or other residue.
Resist the urge to use your fingers to wipe the lenses because you can strip off the anti-fog protective layer from it and spread your finger oil onto the lens.
If you must touch the lenses, do so with a microfiber cloth to ensure the lenses don’t get scratched. For a more thorough cleaning, you can wash it with soapy water. Take care to watch the straps and gasket (the soft material around the lenses) to ensure they are in tip-top shape.
Afterwards, dry your goggles by laying them flat on a towel somewhere out of direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays can deteriorate the materials quickly. On the other hand, failing to dry your goggles before storing them can cause bacteria and mold growth.
Lastly, store your goggles in a safe place. If you have a spare glasses case or sunglasses case, I recommend you store your goggles there. Goggles can otherwise be damaged by other gear in the bag as it tumbles around or gets squished, so a case is required to extend its life.
By being aware of and avoiding the factors that can cause a pair of goggles to deteriorate faster, as well as taking proper care of it after swimming, you can drastically increase the lifespan of your goggles so that you can go a long time before you need to replace your goggles.