It doesn’t matter where you are headed to for your water adventure whether it be the ocean or a freshwater lake, all these scenarios will expose your wetsuit to a cocktail of ingredients that will reduce its effectiveness and shorten its lifespan if you don’t wash it properly from time to time.
Whether it be sand, mud, sediments, saltwater, bacteria, or mold, they will all have a lasting adverse effect on your wetsuit given a chance. Knowing how to wash a wetsuit will not only make it more hygienic to wear, but a good maintenance routine will also prolong the life of your suit, which means you get more dives or surfs for your money.
As such, we will give you a few bits of advice on proper wetsuit care including how often you should be washing your wetsuit, what not to do, four easy steps to wash the wetsuit, and some extra tips on how to keep your wetsuit looking and smelling as good as new!
The Proper Washing of Wetsuit
You should keep in mind that you should wash your wetsuit after every dive! Now, you must take note that this doesn’t mean just putting it in the washing machine. In fact, no one ever recommends that you put your wetsuit through a spin cycle. Nonetheless, this also doesn’t mean you have to get the scrubbing brush out each time as it’s really not as hard as you might think.
The Do Not’s
Apart from the fact that you shouldn’t put your wetsuit in the washer, you shouldn’t put it in the tumble dryer as well. Similarly, it is not advisable that you use harsh chemicals such as bleach and expose your wetsuit to hot water
All the above will compromise your wetsuits integrity by drying it out too much with heat or chemicals. That will result in loss of flexibility and expose your wetsuit to higher risk from wear and tear as the material will become weaker each time it is exposed to such.
Firstly, turn your wetsuit inside out and fill a large container such as a bucket or bath using fresh, cold water. Then, dunk your wetsuit under, giving it a swirl around and ensuring it’s all completely wet and submerged. Leave it soaking for 10 to 15 minutes or more. You can add wetsuit wash at this time if your wetsuit is extra dirty, extra stinky, or both!
Do not scrub the material (because it causes weak spots), scrub the zippers. Check the zippers and make sure they slide up and down easily. If you see any signs of corrosion, then you can take a toothbrush, dip it in white vinegar and then scrub gently. Zippers are, more often than not, the first things to go wrong on a suit, so look after yours!
Rinse the wetsuit with fresh, cold water inside and outside thoroughly.
Once again, DO NOT tumble dry! With that said, your wetsuit really doesn’t like heat at all (or UV rays), so it shouldn’t be dried in direct heat such as the sun as well. Quick drying your wetsuit like this will result in it getting hard and losing its flexibility which leaves it more vulnerable to tears.
Ideally, you should hang the suit up folded over double by the waist in a warm, shady, and breezy spot. Let the inside dry first (it should still be inside out anyway though, right?), and you can speed up the drying time by wringing the excess water out of the wrists and ankles from time to time. It is also best to put a bucket underneath; otherwise, there’s going to be a lot of water on the floor.
1. Smelly Wetsuit
Let’s face it: even if you swear to us that your wetsuit doesn’t get exposed to a drop of urine and no matter how clean you are, everybody’s body secretes oil and sweat. Along with your lovely bodily secretions, your wetsuit will also be exposed to dirty water and algae from time to time, and your warm wetsuit will make an ideal breeding ground for bacteria if you let it. So, depending on how often you use your wetsuit, the proper way on how to wash a wetsuit will also include using a mild soap every now and then.
The material that your wetsuit is made from is chemically fragile, so either buy specially developed wetsuit wash at your diving goods store or use baby shampoo. The soap will break down the oils and bacteria that result in a smelly wetsuit.
After soaking your wetsuit in fresh water, add the soap to another fresh, cool-water bath and give it a swirl to agitate the soap and leave it to soak for another 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve left it too late and already have a smelly wetsuit on your hands, then you can tackle stains and/or particularly smelly areas such as the groin and armpits with a small amount of soap on a cloth and rub the offensive areas gently.
2. Damage Repair and Prevention
Before putting your wetsuit away, you should check it from top to bottom carefully for signs of damage or to see any ripped seams or holes straight away. You can try to repair your wetsuit yourself, or you can take it to a local dive shop. For preventative maintenance, it is always great to use a lubricant on the zippers to protect them from future corrosion from saltwater and chlorine.
Due to the weight of your wetsuit and the material’s elasticity, you should either store your wetsuit flat or on a specific type of hanger. A metal wire hanger will give you permanent “hanger shoulders”, but a padded or wide shouldered hanger will spread the weight a bit more.
Our preferred method of storing wetsuits though is by folding over by the waist on a large plastic hanger. You should never fold your wetsuit and cram it into a drawer as folding will weaken the fabric.
Ultimately, the time and effort that you put into taking care of your wetsuit will be worth it in the long run. How to wash a wetsuit is easy!
After each dive or surf, be sure to give it a good rinse and soak in clean, cool water and dry it properly in the shade before storing it for its next use. In fact, just like any other piece of diving or surfing equipment, treat it with respect, and it will retain its effectiveness in keeping you warmer and happier for a long time.