How To Wash And Dry A Wetsuit?

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Washing your wetsuit after every session helps wash away the salts and other funky bits found in seawater. It also helps you keep away or at least delay that bad wetsuit smell. Then every once in awhile your wettie needs a good wash. And after every use or wash there is a time to dry it. There is the right and the wrong way to dry a wetsuit and this is where you can really shorten your wetsuits life. So lets get cracking with this how to…

How to wash a wetsuit after every session?

Maybe I’ll start with some things that you do NOT want to do. Don’t use any chemicals, soaps, detergents, bleaches and other similar aggressive substances. They can ruin the neoprene. Also don’t use washing machines, drying machines, cleaners and hot irons:). Just ordinary fresh water will do for regular everyday rinses. OK, if you have lots of wetsuit (like a surf school or something) washing machine is acceptable – here are a few tips for using it.

For everyday washing and rinsing, here is what you do:

  • When you get out of the water get into the shower with your wetsuit on and rinse it while you are wearing it. Just make sure you don’t use hot water until you take it off . Neoprene doesn’t like hot water that much.
  • Another simple wash method is to hang it outside and rinse it with water.
  • A more effective and a bit more time consuming way is using a tub or a container. Fill it with water and submerge your wetsuit into it. Leave the wetsuit soaking in the water for an hour or so. This way fresh water will really get into the neoprene in flush away everything that can be flushed by it :). Then rinse it and hang it out to dry. I do this like every 10 sessions or something like that.

How to wash it when you want to get rid of the smell?

A few times a year (depends on how much you use it) you will want to wash your wetsuit a bit more thoroughly. This means using a shampoo. There are special shampoos intended for neoprene care and it’s best if you use them, they are mild enough not to harm the neoprene and they will leave a pleasant fresh smell (known brands include Piss Off, Sink The Stink…etc). You can also use an ordinary mild shampoo instead (like the one for children) or a few drops of washing detergent. The purpose of the shampoo is to dissolve all the greasy and fatty stuff that mostly gets into the wetsuit from our bodies and is in fact the breeding ground for bacteria which are the things that stink up your suit.  For a full smell elimination how to check this article.

How To Dry Your Wetsuit?

Once your wetsuit is washed you need to dry it or it will turn into a smelly mouldy piece of black rubber. Neoprene biggest enemy is the sun with its UV rays. These rays will accelerate the aging of the material and your neoprene will turn pale, become harder and less flexible. So..no direct sun!

The ideal place to dry it is in a warm, shady and a bit windy place.

Also –  a wet wetsuit is pretty heavy. Putting it on a thin hanger (like a wire hanger) will put lots of stress on the shoulders and the neoprene can even get permanently stretched with hanger indents burned into the shoulders. This is why you want to use a really wide hanger.  Or don’t use a hanger at all, throw the wetsuit over a wooden stick or something like that. You can also buy a special wetsuit hangers that help you with that or that even have an inbuilt ventilator that blows air through the inside of your wetsuit (check HangAir).

When it’s cold you will need to dry it inside your house. You can use a garage and put a bucket under it if you don’t want a puddle on the floor or hang it in the shower or over your tub.

TIP: If you squeeze the end of wetsuit arms and legs after it hangs for a while it will dry faster. This is where the water collects as gravity does it’s job.

Wetsuits

Wetsuits in the sun and a pigeon walking by.

Drying Your Wetsuit In The Sun?

There are instructions and then there is real life. Of course there will be plenty of times when you will prefer a dry wetsuit over a longer and safer drying in the shade. And you will hang it in the sun. If you do:

  • make sure you turn it around every now and then and
  • take it out of the sun as soon as it dries. Don’t leave it hanging there baking…it’s not a cookie.

Hope this helps, if you have any questions use the comments.

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2 Comments

  • Emma says:

    How do you get rid of mould on a wetsuit???

    • K says:

      Wash the moldy part in hot water, soak it in vinegar, wash it again, leave it in the sun…sun and UV light also kills mold. You can also use detergents for removing mold, but don’t use bleach.

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