Recreational and competitive swimmer’s alike both become pretty helpless when their goggles begin to fog up in the middle of swimming. You might be the fastest person on the swim team, but if you can’t see in front of you, you’re at a significant disadvantage. We get lots of questions about swim goggles fogging up, and how to prevent it from happening. And just like preventing fog on your ski goggles, there is some solid science (and also some wives tales) about what you can use to fight the fog.
Why swimming goggles fog up
Much like snow goggles (or any eyewear on your face, for that matter), fog and condensation occur when your warm face heats up the air inside the pocket of the goggles. That, combined with the cool exterior (in this case, cold pool water), creates condensation on the inside. Thousands of these tiny bubbles are what make it impossible to see through. The Thought Co. also notes that the more you swim (and heat up), the higher the chance of fog– no matter how fancy the coating is. So be advised, you’re fighting a tough battle to begin with.
What does antifog do?
Preventing those bubbles from forming is the name of the game. A great lens coating, whether applied at the factory or afterwards (perhaps using one of the methods below), will effectively lessen the surface tension of the moisture inside. So instead of lots of tiny bubbles, you get a very thin layer of water that is much easier to see through.
Preserving swim goggle coating
Most, if not all of the top swim goggle manufacturers include an anti-fog coating on the inside of their lenses. Some are clearly more effective than others (we like the prescription Speedo vanquishers), and will stand up to abuse/scratching better than the rest.
It’s important to take care when touching the inside of new swim goggles– avoid rubbing them with something like a rough t-shirt or scratching them with a fingernail. While swim goggles aren’t exactly expensive, you can preserve the life of them by rinsing them with fresh water after each swim practice. Just like the chlorine makes your hair crunchy/dry, it does the same to the silicone seals and anti-fog coating on the inside of the goggles.
The most commonly accepted anti-fog methods
The following are 4 methods swimmers have used over the years to get through their swim seeing clearly. We’re going to begin with what we think are the most questionable methods (don’t worry, we’ll explain why), and work our way up to the most effective.
We’ve all done this, whether its for a snorkeling mask or swim goggles. You spit in the goggles, rub it around with your finger, and rinse out lightly with water. While we have seen this work to a degree, it’s results are short-lived.
Also, everyone’s spit is a little different, so it’s not a very standardized method. But in a pinch, it’s not the worst choice.
This is another locker room trick of the trade. Rub a light film of toothpaste inside each lens, wait for it to dry, and then lightly buff with a clean microfiber cloth (ideally). This does work better than saliva, but we have an issue with the fact that toothpaste is a mild abrasive in nature. Therefore, it will do damage over time to the factory anti-fog coating on the lens.
A drop of baby shampoo on each side, then rinsed with water, is a better solution than toothpaste in our opinion. It’s used commonly in triathlete circles and is an effective “alternative” method.
Just like baby shampoo, anti-fog sprays and wipes are engineered specifically to fight fog (as opposed to washing baby hair). They create a formulated coating to keep condensation from forming, and they don’t damage the inside of the lenses.