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8 Ways to Care for A Wetsuit

Despite improvements in the technology of the wetsuit, the basic ways to look after a wetsuit remains the same. If you want it to last the test of time, here are proven ways to take care of your wetsuit.

How to roll a wetsuit for storage

It is important to understand that there is a fair bit of work that goes into keeping a wetsuit in top condition once you get out of the water.

If you neglect your wetsuit, expect the high-tech neoprene rubber and seals to perish and lose the ability to keep water out and keep you warm.

Ironically two of the wetsuits worst enemies are salt water and sunlight. However, if you take the time and put in the effort to care for your wetsuit, it will last you for years.

How to Put on A Wetsuit So You Don’t Damage Them

When you put your wetsuit on, take care not to pull the panels and stretch them out. Don’t put your feet into the hole of the leg and then yank at the neoprene until your leg makes its way out the other end.

It is far better to bunch the rubber up and move it bit by bit which won’t stress the neoprene and seams.

Be careful putting your feet through your wetsuit as your toes can catch and drag on the leg panels. Toe nails can wreak havoc on the thinner models.

Also, if you have long finger nails like Amy does, make sure not to dig them into the neoprene. They leave marks and we learnt that the hard way.

How not to damage wetsuit with fingernails
Use the side of your fingers to pull wetsuit. Don’t dig your finger nails into the neoprene.

A good hack for putting your wetsuit on is to put a cheap plastic shopping bag over your feet before you slide them into the wetsuit. This will allow you to get your feet all the way to the end if the leg section without too much trouble.

Once one leg is through, remove the bag and put it on the other foot. We always have one handy in the car if we’re not putting the wetsuit on until we get to the water.

Using a plastic bag on your feet to put on wetsuit

Alternatively, you can turn the wetsuit inside out, put your foot through the ankle opening and slowly roll it up.

Getting your arms through is easier but the end part is always a bit tricky. With my daughter, I lift the wrist seal and I blow into her sleeve. This assist in getting the neoprene to break contact with her skin and she manages to wriggle her hand into place.

When you’re removing the wetsuit, do it slowly and don’t pull it at one point until it all comes off. It places too much stress on the one spot.

Every time a small part is removed, release your hold and move up to the next point. Once your arm is free, roll the wetsuit down your torso and then down your legs. Don’t pull!

A reminder that a wetsuit comes off faster if you and the neoprene are wet.

The key takeaway here is not to stretch your wetsuit. Stretching causes damage and doesn’t contribute to the longevity of the wetsuit.

How to Wash A Wetsuit

After every use you need to thoroughly rinse your wetsuit inside and out in fresh cool water. This is the most critical step in how to clean a wetsuit and ensuring they last longer.

Salt water is kryptonite to neoprene.

Salt water will cause your wetsuit to degrade quickly if you don’t take the time to rinse it well.

I wash the wetsuits in a couple of different ways.

Sometimes I fill a big tub with tap water and put our three wetsuits in there. I let them soak for a while and then give them a good kneading. I then turn them inside out and repeat. This can take about 30 minutes to do properly, and I do it each time we’re done for the day.

The other method is I lay out the wetsuits on the grass and I give them all a good hose down on both sides. I then put the hose into the wetsuit and fill it up with water. I pick up the wetsuit on both ends with the water in it and give it a thorough wash by lifting each end up and down.

Washing wetsuits with a hose in the garden
Washing wetsuits with a hose in the garden

Make sure you remove all the sand and dirt in and out of the wetsuit, so it doesn’t rub against the seams, zips, and the neoprene itself. This is especially important if you’re going to pack it away for some time if you’re done for the season.

Do not use hot water on the neoprene as it causes unnecessary deterioration on the wetsuit material and causes it to lose some of its flexibility.

How to Dry A Wetsuit

After you finish the task of rinsing your wetsuit in fresh water you need to let it dry. Even in the process of drying your wetsuit, there is a right and wrong way to do so which inevitably adds to the wellbeing of the neoprene.

The worst way to dry a wetsuit is in direct sunlight. Whilst it is tempting to do so as it’s the quickest way to get the wetsuit dry, the UV light causes the neoprene to age very quickly. This will ultimately reduce the wetsuit’s durability and it becomes prone to cracks.

Always hang your wetsuit in the shade. The best way to hang it is to use a solid plastic coat hanger and fold it carefully in half or drape it over a clothes horse if you have one handy. We use a combination of these and manage to get our wetsuits dry for the next day.

Don’t just throw your wetsuit over a tree or a fence where it can get out of shape and torn.

Important to also not hang your wetsuit from the shoulders as it is too heavy and will cause it to stretch.

Drying a wetsuit on a clothes horse

Dry Wetsuit Both Sides

Now that you have your wetsuit hung properly, take the time to turn it inside out once the outside is dry. It is really important to get both sides dry and it’s not just for comfort.

Mould will build up quickly inside a damp wetsuit and start to destroy the neoprene. This will also cause it to smell terrible if you leave it for too long and then all the wetsuit shampoo on earth won’t banish the stench.

When we go away with the family, I religiously and carefully wash and hang our wetsuits. Then I get up in the middle of the night if I have to, so I can turn them inside out, so they will be dry by the morning.

If it is cold and there is a heater on, don’t hang them too close to the heater. Too much heat is not good for them either.

As too much heat is bad for neoprene, it goes without saying that you never put your wetsuit into a tumble dryer!

Use A Wetsuit Shampoo

Every so often it is a good idea to wash the wetsuit with wetsuit shampoo (yes, there is such a thing!). This will help ensure that any small bits of salt that gets left behind from rinsing will be removed, particularly around the seams and zippers.

It will also help breakdown any wax that gets on your wetsuit from the deck of the boogie board.

I like to fill my tub with lukewarm water, throw in a few cups of wetsuit shampoo and work the suds up. Then I get up to my elbows working the shampoo into the seams and zippers. The shampoo will also help remove any smells that you get in the wetsuit.

Here are some of the best wetsuit cleaners on the market today.

How to Wash Wetsuit in A Washing Machine

Don’t! It’s as simple as that.

Detergent mixed with hot water and a rigorous tumbling cycle is a sure-fire way of damaging neoprene. Don’t be lazy and just hand wash them after every use.

How to Deep Clean the Zip of a Wetsuit

Use a toothbrush!

It’s not necessary to do this after every wear. It could be the last time you are going to wear your wetsuit for the season or at least for quite some time. Helps to remove all the gritty sand and salt build up.

How to Store A Wetsuit

Storing your wetsuit in the proper manner will also improve the longevity of the neoprene and is an essential part of wetsuit care. In countries where you just wouldn’t get into the water in the winter, your wetsuit is spending a lot of time stagnant in one place. It is therefore imperative that the correct way to store them is adhered to.

The best way to store your wetsuit is to roll them up.

Lay them flat on the ground, fold the sleeves into the centre and then fold the legs up. This should form a rectangular shapes. Then roll it up and store in a dry cool place. We store ours in a storage container.

How to roll wetsuit step 1 of 2
How to roll wetsuit step 2 of 2

Frequently Asked Questions

How to get rid of the smell from wetsuit?

Whether you wish to admit it or not, you’ve probably peed in your wetsuit. The stench can be horrendous if left untreated. The first thing you should do when you pee in your wetsuit is to flush it. Left some water into your wetsuit and let it all out through the legs. What you’re trying to do is removing as much urine as possible.

After you strip off, wash the wetsuit inside and out and there are plenty of wetsuit shampoos you can use to soak the wetsuit in a tub. Then ensure you dry it properly as another cause for a smelly wetsuit is storing it away when it’s not fully dry. That damp, mouldy smell never quite goes away.

Some people also dislike the smell of neoprene. If this is the case, the same trick also works. Add some wetsuit shampoo into a tub of water and soak it for about 30 minutes. Rinse and dry properly.

Can I clean a wetsuit with vinegar?

Yes you can. Put your wetsuit into a tub of water, cold or room temperature. Then add up to 20 drops of white vinegar into the tub as well as a few drops of your favourite smelling essential oils. Leave it for 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly and dry.

Do you put on a wetsuit wet or dry?

The most common way to put on a wetsuit is when both you and the wetsuit are dry. You can put them on wet too but both you and the wetsuit must be equally wet. Dry wetsuit on wet skin or vice versa is not recommended and you could potentially wreck it.

Can I hang my wetsuit?

For the longest time, many people have recommended that they are stored hanging on a sturdy hanger. One of the reasons being that it doesn’t cause unnecessary folds causing it to dry out. Neoprene however is heavy and if left hanging on the hanger for too long, it will inevitably stretch at the shoulders. The safest way to store a wetsuit would be to roll it up.

If you want your wetsuit to last longer, follow these wetsuit care steps religiously. Rinsing your wetsuit with fresh water is by far the most important step, even if you’re back out in the water the next day.

You will most definitely be able to get good mileage out of your wetsuit if you take care good care it on a regular basis.


bodyboard101.com Amy and Andrew at the beach

We’re Andrew & Amy and we are a small blended family that love to bodyboard! We’re here to share everything we know to help you with your bodyboarding adventure as a beginner, with your family or if you’re transitioning onto intermediate level. Let’s go!

16 thoughts on “8 Ways to Care for A Wetsuit”

  1. I really love the wealth of information that all of your posts contain. This site really is a complete guide to everything bodyboarding if you’re new to the sport.

  2. These are some great tips on caring for your wetsuit.I don’t own one but have friends that do, I will share this with them.

  3. I never know how to take care of wetsuits.This article is really informative with all the necessary tips including how to wash,dry and deep clean a wetsuit.

    1. Yup! Caring for a wetsuit properly ensures they last for a long time! Also if you’re not going to use it between seasons, you don’t want them to start to deteriorate or smell!

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