Does anti-fog spray (or baby shampoo) really work for swimming goggles?

Ever been annoyed by goggles that fogged up on you part way through an open water swim? Curious what other triathletes do to keep their goggles clear?

Well, we were too. We surveyed 107 athletes at the 2019 Ironman Waco 70.3 race to find out they prepped their goggles before racing, and how well it worked.

Read on to find out how to banish your goggle fog forever...

1. Got new goggles? Just swim!

Many of the swimmers who had a relatively new pair of goggles didn't do anything before the swim start. Their goggles stayed clear about 75% of the time.

Why? The factory-applied anti-fog coating in a new pair of swimming goggles lasts about a month. (Maybe longer if you don’t touch the coating and keep it dry.) Four racers purposely bought a new pair of their usual goggles to use on race day for this reason.

If your new goggles get foggy right out of the box, though, try dipping them in water to wet the anti-fog coating. Often this is all you need to do. You can also try licking the insides or using baby shampoo or anti-fog spray. (Request our antifog guide for the best way to use baby shampoo). The swimmers who used one of these three options fogged up even less often than those who did nothing. But do NOT use anti-fog wipes on new goggles - wipes can damage the coating, making your goggles hard to see through.

2. Got old goggles? Do something!

About 27% of the racers who took our survey did nothing to their goggles before starting the swim. Some of them did that on purpose, and some forgot to use whatever they usually do.

Half of the people with older goggles who did nothing fogged up by 10 minutes into the race. The factory-applied anti-fog coating rarely lasts more than a month for any type of goggles. So "doing nothing" is quite risky indeed.

The rest of the people used a variety of methods to defog their goggles before racing. 25% licked their lenses or spit into them and smeared it around before rinsing with some water. 19% used baby shampoo (smear and rinse with water). 15% used anti-fog spray, and 11% used an anti-fog wipe.

Using ANY of these methods was better than doing nothing.

3. Choose the method for you.

Want to swim as long as you like and never have to touch your goggles? There is a defogging method that will fit your budget.

Saliva turned out to be a highly effective (and free) anti-fog strategy. Amongst all five methods, it was the second best (82% effective). The majority of people who went the saliva route licked the inside of their goggles. This is a simple solution used by competitive swimmers for decades, and you sure can’t beat the price!

Baby shampoo ($1-2) and anti-fog spray ($5-8) worked for 60-70% of the swimmers who used them. Some racers commented that these methods always work for them, though. So it’s possible that some failures were due to “user error”. 

Most people applied the shampoo or spray, smeared it evenly on the entire inside of the lens, and then rinsed the excess with a little water. Both baby shampoo and anti-fog sprays are basically soap. They clean the lens surface and prevent condensation. Some people’s eyes are sensitive to the bit of residue left behind, but most people tolerate it well enough.

**Had trouble getting baby shampoo or anti-fog spray to work for you in the past? Request our step-by-step anti-fog guide to master these methods before your next workout or race.**

Anti-fog wipes are by far the most expensive option (~$1 per wipe). But our survey pointed out that for old goggles they were 90% effective - more effective than any other method.

[PLEASE NOTE: We do NOT recommend using anti-fog wipes, microfiber cloths, or any other cloth on the inside of new goggles. It is possible to ruin the original anti-fog coating and make the goggles un-usable.]

While they may not be cost-effective for training, anti-fog wipes seem ideal for racing. Unlike baby shampoo or anti-fog sprays, they don’t leave a thick residue that you have to rinse away with water. This means you don't have to carry water with you before the swim start.

Because of the fragility of factory anti-fog coatings, we do NOT recommend using anti-fog wipes on new goggles.

The bottom line:

  • If your goggles are less than a month old, you may not need to do anything to them pre-swim to keep them from fogging. You can also lick them or use an anti-fog spray or baby shampoo to bolster their anti-fog coating. But do NOT use an anti-fog wipe or microfiber cloth on the inside of new goggles or you may ruin them.
  • If your goggles are older, the original anti-fog coating is gone. Doing ANYTHING is better than doing nothing. Saliva and anti-fog wipes seem to be the most effective options (80-90% fog-free). Baby shampoo is a very cost-effective option as well. If it hasn't worked for you in the past, request our free guide for step-by-step instructions.

Don't get annoyed by your goggles during your next workout or race.

Click here to request instant access to our "whole hog" comprehensive anti-fogging method PDF for a way to use baby shampoo the night before your race for great results and less race-morning stress. It also includes tips for using each quick anti-fog method discussed above, and full results for our survey.

At Snake & Pig we believe your goggles should never distract you from your swimming. Once you have figured out how to keep them from fogging, you may find that they leak or get painful. Check out the air-cushioned Snake & Pig Basilisk to solve both those problems.

Happy swimming!

Snake & Pig

1 comment

Jilly Ruby Jane

Your post really a great post, it’s very useful for me. Thanks for sharing these!

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