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How to Wash and Care For Your Wetsuit

How to Wash and Care For Your Wetsuit

Don't be the "smelly wetsuit guy" (or girl). Wetsuits are breeding grounds for bacteria. With all that sweat, saltwater and sun, it's no wonder your suit can -- and will -- get stinky, and fast. But cleaning for your wetsuit is easy. And, by following a few simple tips, you can keep your suit smelling fresh for longer. Here's how.

What You'll Need

Before you clean your wetsuit, gather the following:

  • Wetsuit shampoo or mild, fragrance-free detergent.
  • Two buckets.
  • Lukewarm water (never use hot water).
  • Soft sponge or cloth.
  • Wetsuit hanger.
  • Towels.
  • Gentle brush.
  • Zipper lubricant.

Cleaning Your Wetsuit

To clean your wetsuit properly, follow these steps:

1. Fill two buckets with lukewarm water. Hot water can damage the neoprene and adhesives, so avoid using it.

2. Add wetsuit shampoo or a mild, fragrance-free detergent to one bucket. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended amount.

3. Gently agitate the soapy water to create suds.

4. Flip the wetsuit inside out, then submerge it in the soapy water. Let it soak for about 15 to 20 minutes.

5. Use a soft sponge or cloth to gently scrub the suit, paying special attention to areas with stubborn stains or odors.

6. For particularly stubborn spots or zippers, you can use a soft brush, but be gentle to avoid damaging the neoprene.

7. Rinse the wetsuit thoroughly in the second bucket filled with non-soapy water, until all soap and suds are gone.

Once the interior is clean, flip the suit back out and repeat the steps above to clean the exterior.

Drying Your Wetsuit

Properly drying your wetsuit is crucial to prevent mold and mildew growth and maintain its flexibility. Follow these steps:

1. Hang your wetsuit by the shoulders using a wetsuit-specific hanger or a padded hanger to avoid stressing the material.

2. Hang it in a cool, shaded area away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Never use a dryer, as high heat can damage the neoprene.

3. Allow your wetsuit to air dry completely. This may take anywhere from a few hours to a full day, depending on the humidity and ventilation in your drying area.

4. Flip the wetsuit inside out after the exterior is mostly dry to ensure that the interior dries thoroughly.

How to Keep Your Suit Fresh

Rinse Thoroughly After Every Use

Start by rinsing your wetsuit thoroughly with fresh, cool water immediately after use. This step helps remove salt, sand, and other debris that can deteriorate the neoprene material. Be gentle and avoid twisting or wringing the wetsuit, as this can cause damage.

Maintain Zippers and Seals

After each use, rinse zippers with fresh water to remove salt and sand, and periodically lubricate them with zipper lubricant to ensure smooth operation.

Inspect seams and seals for signs of wear or damage. Use wetsuit-specific repair kits to patch small holes or tears promptly.

Storing Your Wetsuit

Store your wetsuit flat or hanging on a wide hanger to maintain its shape. Keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

Avoid folding or crumpling the wetsuit for extended periods to prevent creasing and damage to the material.

When is it Time For a New Wetsuit?

By following the recommended cleaning and storage tips above, you can increase the life of your wetsuit. With proper maintenance and cleaning, your suit should last at least 5 years, even with regular use.

But once you start noticing seams loosening, adhesive separating, neoprene fraying, and zipping breaking, it's time for a new wetsuit.