Wetsuit Care – 13 DO’s And DONT’s To Make Your Wetsuit Live Longer

Some wetsuit care can make you wetsuit last longer and can be the difference between it lasting one season or a good couple of years - depending on how frequently you use your wetsuit. So take good care of it and it will keep you nice and warm. Here are the do and dont's of the wetsuit care...

1. HOT WATER RUINS NEOPRENE

In really hot water neoprene looses some of its flexibility. Getting out of your wetsuit under a really hot shower after a cold water session might feel like the best thing ever, but not for your wetsuit. So take your wetsuit off first.

Recap: Hot water - good for spaghetti, bad for wetsuits.

2. SUN & UV RAYS AGE NEOPRENE

If you remember one thing from this wetsuit care list this should be it. Do not leave your wetsuit exposed to the sun when not necessary! Sun is the neoprene’s worst enemy. UV rays cause the neoprene to age quicker. Old neoprene gets harder and looses its flexibility. Dry your wetsuit in the shadow if you can. If you dry it in the sun at least put it away as soon as it is dry. Even more, we think it is better to store your wetsuit in the dark place (cupboard) when you are not using it.

I know lots of people just want to dry their wetsuits as soon as possible before the next session because not many things in life suck more than putting on a cold wet wetsuit. And that’s perfectly fine. Just know that your sun dried wetsuit might not last as long as it otherwise would.

Recap: The Sun - good for tanning, bad for wetsuits.

3. A HOT CAR IS NOT A GOOD PLACE FOR A WETSUIT

Do not leave your wettie in the boot of your car on a hot day. Essentially your car will become an oven and cooking wetsuits is the last resort only for when you are really hungry. 

Recap: Ovens - good for pizza, bad for wetsuits.

4. DRY YOUR WETSUIT INSIDE OUT

Dry your wetsuit inside out. This way you will keep the flexibility of the outer side and if the wetsuit is not completely dry when you are putting it on – at least you'll be getting into the dry side.

Recap: Inside out - bad for jeans, good for wetsuits.

5. STORE IT NICELY, USE A WIDE HANGER

Store your wetsuit on flat surface or wide coat hanger. Why a wide hanger? A narrow one can make permanent indents into wetsuit shoulders. Actually, we think the best way to hang it is over the waistline. Anyway – do not smash the wetsuit into a small drawer all wrinkled. It says so in the wetsuit instructions for a reason. 

Recap: Small drawers - good for underwear, bad for wetsuits.

6. SURF WAX ON NEOPRENE PROBLEM

Surf wax sticks to neoprene, get over it! There is no elegant way to get it off and it will rub on quickly again anyway. 

Recap: Wax - good for bees, bad for wetsuits.

7. HOW TO TAKE OFF YOUR WETSUIT WITHOUT GETTING SAND ON IT (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE)

A wet wetsuit full of sand and dirt is loads of fun to put on (not really) and even if you will have a chance to rinse and dry it before next use, you will save time if your wetsuit is not completely filled with sand and dirt (also saving your shower or bathtub). This all sounds great in theory but in real life it is almost mission impossible. There are two ways to do this:

  • Easy way: when taking off your wetsuit get off the sand and stand on grass, on a rock, on pavement, on the car mat… just not in the middle of the sandy beach. If it doesn’t work, wash it out in the sea after you change.
  • Thinking ahead way: get yourself a wetsuit changing mat or a big flexible plastic bucket and then stand on the mat or inside the bucket when changing. Then use the mat/bucket to transport your wet wetsuit home. This works if your car is not filled up with your friends gear or you own surf trip luggage, otherwise the half closed mat and a big bucket are always in the way.

When you get the wetsuit off, don’t throw it on the floor or in the back of your car to drip all over other things. The best way to store a wet wetsuit is inside a dry bag, a 15L dry bag will comfortable fit on wetsuit and 30L dry bag will fit two. 

Recap: Sand - good for deserts, bad for wetsuits.

8. CLEAN AND DRY YOUR WETSUIT QUICKLY

Once the wetsuit is off, do not leave it to rot inside a bag, box wherever… all messy and sandy. Clean it and dry it. Regular care ads quite some time to the wetsuit lifespan. Here you can find a few tips on how to rinse and dry your wetsuit. Rinsing your wetsuit with fresh water will remove sand and dirt but what is even more important it will remove salt. Salt crystals are also one of the enemies of neoprene. So make sure you always rinse your wetsuit with fresh water before you start drying it!

If you use a plastic bucket to change/store your wetsuit of if you throw your wet wetsuit inside a dry bag (even better, you will need less water) you can use these two to rinse your wetsuit right away. Have a jug of water in your car and then pour it inside the dry bag. Push and pull your wetsuit a few times through the water and then take it out. It’s ready for drying. 

Recap: Salt - good for chips, bad for wetsuits.

9. WASHING MACHINE NO NO

Do not wash your wetsuit in the washing machine and dry it in a dryer! So keep your wife or girlfriend away from your dirty wetsuit. Clean it yourself.

Recap: Women - good for morale, bad for wetsuits.

10. IRONING? YOU ARE KIDDING, RIGHT?

It is not very wise to iron your wetsuit. Duh! Just by the look of it you can assume that rubbery stuff is not the place to put your hot iron. But still, this is the standard warning in the wetsuit instructions and is there for a good reason.

Recap: Irons - good for clothes, bad for wetsuits.

11. BLEACH? ANOTHER NO BRAINER

You should never use bleach or strong washing powder on your wetsuit. But there are some mild washing powders made especially for washing your wetsuits.

Recap: Bleach - good for toilets, bad for wetsuits.

12. MY WETSUIT STINKS

Does your wetsuit stink so much that your neighbours knock on your door to check if someone died? Has your wetsuit become your cats favourite place to look for fish? There are a few reasons for the smelliness.

Basic reason is the sweat and body oils that our skin produces. These are breeding ground for the bacteria which are in fact the thing that smells bad in a wetsuit. You can of course make your wettie extra stinky if you are lazy – you leave your wet wetsuit in a bag for a while instead of washing it right away.

The other reason for bad odour is your urine. Try not to pee (as much as you already do) in it, because pee also deteriorates the neoprene and leaves a funky smell. Then there's dirty and stinky water, algae etc… Fortunately there is a solution to wetsuit odour.

How To Get Rid Of Wetsuit Smell
There are special soaps for washing your wetsuit and removing the stink. One of the brands for instance is called PISS OFF (made by Rip Curl). Then recently we came across another easier way of getting rid of the smell. Once every couple weeks, throw your wetsuit in a tub of fresh warm water (not hot) with a couple of caps of dishwashing detergent. Wash it and the detergent will break down the body oils and wash away the bacteria that leads to smelliness. Rinse your wetsuit in fresh water so you get all the detergent off, then dry your wetsuit in the fresh air. Try to repeat this every few weeks (of course depending on how much you use it) and your wetsuit will be odour free.

Recap: Urination - good for expelling excess water, salt and nitrogen compounds from your body, bad for wetsuits.

13. LENDING YOUR WETSUIT

Never lend your wetsuit to a friend, especially if they are fatter than you, your wettie will stretch out and soon it will be too big for you.

Recap: Friends - good for picking you up from the airport, bad for wetsuits.

What to say in the end? After all the sport is what really matters, don’t let worrying about your equipment get in the way of your enjoyment!