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Goggle Maintenance 101

They’re the only thing standing between your precious peepers and impossible-to-see buoys or flotsam and jetsam. You best take care of those goggles.

They’re one of the smaller items of equipment in your gear bag, but your goggles are a critical component to having a successful swim. Seeing where you are going in the water is important whether it’s a training session or a race. The average elite triathlete probably has three or more pairs of goggles in rotation at any given time. They could be different lens colors or tints for various light conditions or different frame styles based on the swim duration. If your relationship with your goggles is more of the monogamous type, make sure that pair is always in tip-top shape!

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how to buy the right pair of goggles and how to keep your goggle maintenance tips for keeping them going for as long as possible. We also reveal how long a good pair of goggles should last. (Spoiler alert: It’s not as long as you think!)

Related: Triathlete’s Spring 2021 Goggle Buyer’s Guide

Revive Your Current Goggles

Already got that perfect pair, but they’ve seen better days? You can give your swim goggles a new lease on life with these three hacks:

  1. Lightly clean the lens with baby shampoo to remove makeup, oils, and dirt.
  2. Use antifog spray or wipes to prevent fogging. We like these two brands:
  3. Upcycle! Replace crusty straps with new ones for less than 1/10th of the price of a new pair of goggles. Try these two options:

When Is It Time to Toss Them?

Goggles have a three- to five-month lifespan when used regularly. That’s for sure a new pair every season, maybe two per season. Even if you don’t hit that mark, be sure to discard them when the rubber eye gaskets are warped out of shape, as they’ll cause leaks. While some lenses can be repaired with anti-scratch coating (Cat Crap, $10, ekusa.com), sometimes scratches or salt-water damage means there’s no hope. Also be on the lookout for spots on your goggles that irritate your skin—this can be a sign of either a sharp/irregular spot on the goggles or something worse, like bacteria.

Choosing The Right Pair of New Goggles

Getting the right pair of goggles is the first step to swim bliss. Start with the wrong shape or tint, and you’ll be bailing water all season or squinting your way through each swim set or swim leg. Get it right, and you’ll be one of the lucky few who have found “the pair.” Our two shopping tips:

1. Go with a metallic or dark tinted lens for summer swimming

With summertime and outdoor swimming hopefully on the horizon, be sure to stock up on at least one good pair of dark tinted goggles. We like:

AquaSphere Kayenne Mirrored

$35, us.aquasphereswim.com

This pair has a wide range of view for excellent open-water vision and very soft sockets to protect you in the case of an errant foot. The lens on the Kayenne Mirrored is super dark and works well for bright, sunny days and glare bouncing off the water in early/late morning sessions—but probably not a great choice for indoor pools or foggy/overcast days. Our picks:

TYR Special Ops 2.0 Polarized

$30, tyr.com

Though slightly more low-profile than the Kayenne above, this is a great choice for pool and open-water swimming in the bright, outdoor sun. Particularly if you swim in the early morning hours when glare is an issue, polarized lenses will help reduce the fatigue on your eyes that bouncing sun can cause as you sight.

2. Get fit right

Test goggles by pushing them in place on your eyes. A good fit will suction and stay in place without the straps. Is the bridge of your nose extra wide or very narrow? Look for goggles with adjustable nosepieces to fit your face. Our picks:

BlueSeventy Contour

$42, blueseventy.com

Boasting four interchangeable nose bridges (most goggles have three at most), this premium pair of lower-profile goggles is focused on fit. Aside from the many nose bridge options, the Contour also uses extended silicone straps to further enhance the chance of getting that all-important perfect tightness and shape.

Speedo Vanquisher 2.0

$22, speedousa.com

Much like the Contour above, the Vanquisher uses four included, replaceable nose pieces to help dial in the fit. Unlike the Contour, this is more of a pool-focused pair, as it’s quite low profile and fits deeper in the eye socket. Those with a pool swimming background will appreciate the fit of the Vanquisher.

Goggle Maintenance: Take Care of Your New Pair

Now that you’ve found the perfect fit (and that’s no small feat), it’s super important to take care of the pair you’ve got, as long as you can. The lifespan of goggles is shockingly short, but they’re not always cheap, so be sure you treat them right. Our four goggle maintenance tips:

  1. Don’t touch the inside or outside of the lens.
  2. Rinse the goggles with fresh water after every swim.
  3. Let your goggles air dry before packing them.
  4. Store them in a protected case (like you do for sunglasses). We like these three aftermarket cases: