How to wash a wetsuit

March 23, 2021 | Surfing
Wetsuits: always wash your neoprene skin after a surf session | Photo: Keegan Houser/Creative Commons

Do you want to make your wetsuit last longer? Learn how to clean and wash your wetsuit correctly.

Wetsuits can be expensive. They're a medium-term investment, so we need to maintain their qualities and characteristics for as long as possible.

However, with time, surfers tend to pay less attention to wetsuit maintenance, and the chances of appearing holes and tears increase dramatically.

There are several things we can do to look after our wetsuit, especially after a strenuous surf session when all we want to do is relax and chill.

The best way to prolong your wetsuit's life is by cleaning and washing it every time you use it.

So, once you take it off, it's paramount that you remove as much sand and dirt as possible before actually arriving home. And that is easier when it is soaking wet.

Wetsuits: never leave neoprene drying under the sun | Photo: Shutterstock

Cleaners and Conditioners

To give it a thorough clean, rinse it with cold or lukewarm fresh water, and never use detergents.

Otherwise, you'll irreversibly damage the neoprene's qualities.

However, you should apply a good organic wetsuit cleaner and conditioner once in a while to remove all the substances that might be slowly deteriorating the neoprene panels and rubber patches.

Wetsuit shampoos will freshen the neoprene, clean it, and get rid of any unpleasant smells, for example, associated with sweating and peeing in your wetsuit.

Before learning how to wash your second skin, remember that you should never wash your surfing wetsuit in a washing machine.

Finally, if there's excess wax on the suit, leave it - scrubbing it off will damage the neoprene.

Surfing wetsuit: always wash it with cool fresh water and a good wetsuit cleaner and conditioner | Photo: Daria Shevtsova/Creative Commons

Wetsuit Wash 101

Here's how you should wash your wetsuit with cool or tepid water:

1. Rinse the outside of your wetsuit to remove all traces of sand and dirt;

2. Make sure to rinse the zipper well;

3. Turn the wetsuit inside out;

4. Thoroughly wash the wetsuit inside out;

5. Put the wetsuit in a container filled with water;

6. Apply the wetsuit cleaner and conditioner;

7. Lather your wetsuit to help the shampoo get inside the neoprene;

8. Let it soak for 10 minutes;

9. Remove the wetsuit from the water container;

10. Fold it and let the wetsuit dry naturally from the inside out;

Extra Wetsuit Care Tips

The reason why you want it to dry from the inside out is that it helps the neoprene restore its flexibility and is the part you want to dry quickest.

Let your wetsuit dry indoors or outdoors, but never under the sun.

Direct sunlight will also damage your wetsuit and make the neoprene rigid, so keep it away from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.

You can always use a hanger but if it's a thick winter wetsuit, avoid hanging it like a t-shirt.

Otherwise, the neoprene areas around the shoulder will stretch with the extra weight and tear more easily.

Fold it and let it dry in a dry, moisture-free, ventilated space.

Finally, avoid leaving your wetsuit folded for several months in the garage or in a cold and humid attic where mold could take over neoprene.

The Summer Surf Gear Guide 2021