A wetsuit may come as a huge investment, which is precisely why proper care and maintenance are needed to make it last for many years. Most wetsuits nowadays are made with high-quality and high-performing materials to make them more durable and comfortable, however, they may also come with intricate care instructions.
The following cleaning and maintenance information is provided for wetsuits that do not have a specific care guide or label and is only intended as a general instruction for basic care and maintenance of your wetsuit.
To wash a wetsuit, you have to soak it in a tub of warm, fresh water, below 120°F, for at least 15-20 minutes to remove saltwater and chlorine. Next, use a gentle cleanser designed to clean any dirt and bacteria that may damage the neoprene. Lastly, you need to hose off the wetsuit with fresh water and hang it dry with all the zippers open to ensure maximum air circulation and for the suit to dry completely.
For more in-depth instructions on how to wash your wetsuit, read our guide below.
Wetsuit Care and Maintenance
It is helpful to understand each of the materials that go into a wetsuit in order to properly care for it.
- Neoprene – It is the base material all wetsuits are made of. It is a type of rubber foam and is typically laminated with other materials.
- Standard nylon – This is mostly used as an outer lining. It is very durable against regular wear and tear.
- Skin material – This material is either used inside or outside of a wetsuit and often around the wrists, ankles, and neck. It has a rubber-like appearance, either smooth or textured, and is often called “skin-in” or “skin-out.” This material is typically used in areas where a water-tight seal is desired.
- Thermo-skin – This is used inside a wetsuit and has a silver-colored smooth skin type surface. It has heat reflective properties, which also provide a sealing surface similar to standard “skin” materials.
- X-Flex or Iso-Flex Neoprene – These are materials specifically designed to have a much higher flexibility rate than conventional materials, which is due primarily to the looser knit needed to achieve this high degree of stretch.
How to clean a wetsuit?
Saltwater and chlorine can dry out neoprene, and when it does, it loses its flexibility. To ensure your wetsuit’s material retains its flexibility for an extended time, follow the instructions below.
- Thoroughly soak and rinse the wetsuit in a tub of warm, fresh water below 120°F.
- Soak it for at least 15-20 minutes.
- After soaking it, thoroughly hose down the wetsuit with fresh water.
- Place the wetsuit on a thick hanger with all the zippers open to ensure maximum air circulation and for the wetsuit to completely dry.
How do you wash a wetsuit?
After cleaning your wetsuit and getting rid of all the debris, saltwater, and chlorine, it is best to wash it thoroughly and carefully.
- Fill a sink or bucket with one part Wetsuit Wash and 300 parts water.
- Submerge the wetsuit and ensure that the wash completely covers the suit, both inside and out.
- Gently knead the suit in and out of the water, and softly squeeze the wetsuit as you go for the wash to penetrate the wetsuit’s core.
- Do not scrub the wetsuit.
- Rinse off the wetsuit wash, and then hang it dry with all the zippers open.
Can you wash wetsuits in the washing machine?
Washing machines can damage neoprene, which is why it is best to hand wash your wetsuit. However, if you use it frequently and replace it every now and then, you could use a washing machine and follow the steps below.
- Do not use a standard detergent or washing powder.
- Instead, use a wetsuit wash around a cap-full per wash.
- Wash your wetsuit on a slow cycle and a cool wash.
- Do not wash it with any other items.
- You can always look for a laundry shop that knows how to wash wetsuits.
How often should you wash a wetsuit?
You should wash your wetsuit after every use. Rinse it with cold, fresh water to avoid damaging the neoprene and get rid of all the saltwater or chlorine, and all the grime from the inside and outside of the suit.
The best way to dry a wetsuit:
- Hang your wetsuit properly, and do not expose it to the sun or direct heat.
- Use a plastic hanger.
- Slide the top or bottom of the suit through it.
- Hang it doubled-up and inside out, in a shaded area.
- Turn the suit inside out each day until it is completely dry.
How do you dry a wetsuit overnight?
- Hang your wetsuit inside out, on a wide plastic hanger after rinsing it.
- Do not expose it to the sun or direct heat.
- Wait for about 20 minutes until the water starts to pool in the lower arms and legs.
- Squeeze the water out of each arm and leg, starting at the shoulder, and squeeze your way down to its wrist.
- Do the same with the legs, by starting at the thigh down to the ankles.
- Repeat steps 3 to 5.
- Leave the wetsuit hanging in the breeze for an hour or two. It is best to hang in a well-ventilated area, in the shower, or over the bathtub.
Can I tumble dry my wetsuit?
No, you should not tumble dry your wetsuit because the material may deteriorate quickly. Avoid drying it under direct sunlight or heat, or over a radiator, or a hot press because too much heat can damage the neoprene.
Storing Your Wetsuit
Neoprene could develop a permanent crease if left folded for an extended time. So, it is best to store it by following the instructions below.
- Store your wetsuit laying flat, if possible.
- Hang it. It is best to use a thick hanger to better support the weight of the suit.
- A thick suit is heavier than a regular one. Therefore, your hanger should be as well.
- Store your wetsuit in a cool and dry area, protected from direct sunlight.
- Do not store your wetsuit in the garage if you use it to park a vehicle because the emissions from a vehicle can deteriorate the neoprene over time.
Wetsuit’s Zippers Care and Maintenance:
- Wash the zipper with fresh water and a wetsuit wash.
- Gently brush the zip to remove any grit or sand.
- Lubricate the zip with beeswax to keep it working smoothly.
- Avoid using oil-based lubricants because they can attract grit and sand.
- Avoid contact with oil, gasoline, aerosols, or other chemical solvents.
- Do not expose your wetsuit to aerosol spray because it may degrade rubber and plastic.
- Avoid using alcohol, solvent, or petroleum-based substances to clean or lubricate any part of the wetsuit.
- Do not store your wetsuit near oil, gasoline, chemicals, or solvents.
Tips to make your wetsuit last longer
- Do not use hot water on neoprene because it will lose its flexibility.
- Do not leave your wetsuit under the sun. Instead, dry your wetsuit in a shaded and well-ventilated area.
- Do not leave your wetsuit in the trunk of your car during a hot day.
- Dry your wetsuit inside out to keep the flexibility of the outer side.
- Store it on a flat surface or hang it using a wide coat hanger to avoid permanent indents or creases.
- Do not stuff it in a drawer to avoid wrinkles.
- Do not worry about surf wax getting into the neoprene because it can easily rub on and off again.
- Rinse your wetsuit after every use to get rid of sand and dirt.
- Store it in a dry bag instead of just throwing it on the floor or back of your car.
- Clean and dry your wetsuit quickly to maximize its lifespan.
- Do not use a washing machine.
- Do not iron it because the rubbery fabric will melt, thus making your wetsuit useless.
- Do not bleach nor use harsh powder detergents.
- Use special soaps to remove the stinky smells of your wetsuit.
- Never lend your wetsuit to anyone who is a bigger size to avoid stretching the fabric.
Always remember that your gears can be a huge investment. Therefore, taking good care of them will make them last longer and get your money’s worth.