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How to Wash and Care for Your Wetsuit

Wetsuits are one of the biggest investments a surfer can make. With some wetsuits costing a few hundred dollars or nearly a thousand, taking care of wetsuits is something that we should seriously consider. By following these simple steps of how to wash and care for your wetsuit, you can make your wetsuits last for many surfing sessions and save you from another expensive trip to the wetsuit store.

What are Wetsuits Made of

Neoprene is the most common and important material used in making wetsuits. It is a synthetic form of rubber created through a series of chemical processes. The end result is a material that is elastic, impermeable, buoyant, and with good insulating properties. Making neoprene one of the best materials for making wetsuits.

How to Clean a Wetsuit

If on the beach...

Step 1: Rinse the Wetsuit

After getting out of the water rinse the wetsuit in cold or lukewarm water. Give it a thorough rinse starting from the outside of the wetsuit to remove sand and dirt. Once you are done, turn the wetsuit inside out and rinse. Be sure to give the zippers a thorough rinse as well. This removes any sand or dirt that might have found their way into any nooks and crevices.

It would be a good idea if you have a changing mat or a surf changing poncho to minimize sand or dirt transfer when removing your wetsuit. You could also do it over the pavement, gravel, or in the shower if available.

Step 2: Dry the Wetsuit

Same as hot water, drying your wetsuit directly under the sun can damage the neoprene in your wetsuit. Find a shaded area and air dry your wetsuit inside out. After drying, store it properly by folding it carefully to avoid creases.

If there are no clean sources of water for rinsing your wetsuit or everyone’s in a hurry to get home, you could use a bucket or any container (waterproof bag, or mat) to transport it to your home for proper washing.

At home...

We don’t expect you to/’/ be constantly traveling with all your wetsuit cleaning materials in hand every time, or ever. These next steps give you detailed instructions on how to clean your wetsuit.

Step 1: Soak the Wetsuit

Soak your wetsuit in a container or tub filled with fresh or cold water. It is important to remember that hot water damages the neoprene in the wetsuit so be sure to check water temperature.

Step 2: Clean the Wetsuit

Check product information or only use wetsuit approved cleaning supplies. Add the appropriate amount of solution to the water and soak it for 10 to 15 minutes. After this, turn the wetsuit inside out and soak it for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 3: Scrub the Wetsuit

While soaked, open the zippers, or expose and pockets, patches and start scrubbing with a ‘gentle’ brush or simply use your hands to avoid damaging the wetsuit skin.

Step 4: Rinse the Wetsuit

The best way to rinse your wetsuit is to use a nozzle-equipped water hose but running water from a faucet does the job too. Be sure to remove all traces of the cleaning solutions giving equal attention to both the inside and outside of the wetsuit.

Step 4: Dry the Wetsuit

Never use the dryer! Using the dryer will damage your wetsuit. Air dry your wetsuit in a shaded area with lots of air circulation. Dry it inside out and be sure to keep the zippers open. You can use a hanger but avoid hanging it like a t-shirt because these can leave some creases or deform your wetsuit. Fold it in the waist area and hang it on the lower bar.

How to Store Your Wetsuit

Keep your wetsuit anywhere cool and dry. You could leave it on a hanger but remember to fold it from the waist and not like a jacket or t-shirt. If you must fold it for storage, don’t leave it cramped up with other clothes because it can cause permanent creases.

How to Take Care of your Wetsuit - Things to Remember

Tip 1: Hot water can damage your wetsuit

Wetsuits are designed for cold water conditions and exposing it to hot water can actually damage it. This is because wetsuits are commonly made from neoprene and it does not react well to warm water.

Tip 2: Never leave your wetsuit in the sunlight to dry

It might seem to be a good idea but drying our wetsuits under direct sunlight also exposes it to UV radiation. Along with the heat, you could find yourself with a damaged wetsuit in a couple of weeks. The best way of drying your wetsuit is to hang it in open air in a shaded area.

Tip 3: Only use approved cleaning materials, solutions

A thorough rinsing with water after using your wetsuit could do the job done most of the time. But with continued use of your wetsuit, some contaminants can be stubborn to be remove. When this happens, only use approved cleaning solutions. This is because some detergents have harmful chemicals that can damage neoprene.

Tip 4: Store your wetsuit properly

You’ve gone through the trouble of cleaning your wetsuit but don’t put all of that to waste by not storing your wetsuit properly. The best way of keeping your wetsuit safe is to simply use a wetsuit hanger in a dry closet. If space is a problem, you could also fold it in half and store it in a dry container. There’s also a proper way of hanging wetsuits to avoid stretching the collar and shoulder areas. The ideal way is to drape it on the bottom bar of the hanger at waist.

Tip 5: Just to be safe, never use a washing machine and/or dryer

A wetsuit can be considered a special gear for surfing and we don’t throw gear in the washing machine, or do you? But if you can’t avoid it, only use a slow spin cycle, and use cold water to rinse. Also remember to only use recommended cleaning solutions to avoid damaging the neoprene.

Tip 6: Rinse your wetsuit immediately after use

Even if you can’t give your wetsuit a proper wash after use, rinse the wetsuit with clean water and properly dry it.

Tip 7: Clean and maintain those zippers

Most wetsuits come with modern zippers that are corrosion resistant. But this should not stop you from checking your zippers and cleaning them regularly.

Caring for your Wetsuit

Taking care of our wetsuit is not all about keeping this in perfect condition. It is also about personal health and hygiene. Wetsuits are like our second skin and ensuring that it is always clean keeps diseases and infection at bay.