It might be the last thing you want to do after a hard day’s surfing, but washing your wetsuit is important to maintain the longevity and overall hygiene of your wetsuit. Water, especially sea water, is corrosive and can ruin a perfectly good wetsuit. Look at what it can do to your house walls when there is a bit of damp, so now imagine how bad it can be to your lovely neoprene suit. We’ve given you our step by step guide on how to wash a wetsuit, so that you avoid rookie mistakes.
Rinse Straight Away
So the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that as soon as you are back home you rinse the wetsuit out immediately. If you’ve taken your wetsuit off at the beach, I have no doubts that it is covered in sand. If you’ve taken it off in the car park, I hope that you have used a changing mat to avoid any unnecessary rips in the neoprene from stones.
Rinsing your wetsuit straight away will help remove the salt, sand and other debris that will degrade and shorten the life of the neoprene material. Pay some special attention to the zip to avoid any salt build up. This will lead to potential rust and possibly break the zip mechanism.
Fill A Tub Or Basin
To help with your water bills I recommend buying yourself a tub or basin to wash your wetsuit. Fill the tub with fresh lukewarm or cold water. Not only will this save your water bill, it also means you can take the tub outside and avoid getting sand and stones inside your house.
Try to avoid using hot water as over time this can damage the neoprene. I must admit that I’ve been guilty of washing my wetsuit in the shower when camping. I found this was the quickest method to clean off all the salt water and also get clean myself. However this isn’t a good idea if you are looking to make the most out of your wetsuit.
One of the best options is a changing mat. This changing mat from Quiksilver doubles up as a bucket, so you can get changed comfortably and also have your wetsuit in a bucket ready to wash. If you can’t use a tub, your garden hose will be fine, but you will need to be more thorough to ensure you get all the salt water off the suit.
Use A Mild Soap
We’ve been asked this question a lot: “should I use a cleaning product on my wetsuit?” and the answer is yes. Try to find yourself a mild wetsuit specific soap. Whatever you do, do not use detergents as this can spoil the wetsuit’s neoprene properties. If you want your wetsuit to remain elastic you will follow these words explicitly.
A mild soap will help with any smells that may build up. If you are surfing in Winter then you might have had a tactical wee in your wetsuit for some warmth. I’m guilty of this in the Summer months, let alone in January. The wetsuit shampoo will help to ensure your wetsuit doesn’t have any lingering odours.
Keep It Inside Out
A nice hack I was taught back in my early surfing stages were to keep the wetsuit inside out. A bloke at the campsite I was using educated me on the fact that the interior lining is where all the sweat, oils and odors tend to collect. So once you have climbed out of your wetsuit, it is likely that it is already inside out. Keep it this way during the washing phase as it will help remove any of the smells. It is also a hell of a lot easier and having to turn the wetsuit back to the correct way.
Hand Wash Gently
When cleaning your wetsuit try not to spend too much time scrubbing any sections. allow the water and soap to do the cleaning for you. Too much rubbing over specific areas will cause wear and tear. Hopefully you’ve invested your money into a high quality wetsuit, the last thing you want to do is rip the neoprene with some over vigorous cleaning.
Rinse It Through
Once you are satisfied that the wetsuit is clean, ensure that you get rid of all the soapy water. Refill the tub with fresh clean water to remove any of the leftover soap residue.
Hang It To Dry
All the hard work has been done. The next thing to do is make sure that you dry the wetsuit thoroughly in a well ventilated area. Wetsuits can take quite some time to dry. Do not be tempted to speed up the process by leaving the wetsuit in a sunny or hot area. Direct sunlight and excessive heat is harmful to neoprene. This can cause your wetsuit to lose elasticity. I recommend getting a strong or sturdy hanger that is specifically designed for wetsuits.
Wire hangers can leave marks and creases on the wetsuit if hung through the shoulders. Plastic hangers will sometimes snap due to the weight of the wetsuit when wet.
Invest in a solid hanger like the C-Monsta Hanger. It’s purpose built to not only hang your wetsuit, but also your wetsuit gloves and boots. You’ll notice that the wetsuits are designed to go through the bar section. This is to help avoid the creases that occur if you hang the suit over the shoulder straps.
One finally drying tip is to air out both sides. You need the wetsuit to be fully dry. If one side is still damp you will get mould and mildew in the suit, which will cause the wetsuit to stink.
Avoid Wringing and Washing Machines
Another tip on how to wash a wetsuit, is to not wring the wetsuit out. Your overall aim should be to protect the neoprene and ensure it stays flexible, wringing your wetsuit out will not help with this.
You might be tempted to avoid all the steps above and opt for a washing machine to clean your wetsuit….well don’t. A washing machine will zap your wetsuit. The heat and agitation will ruin your wetsuit, so it’s best to get this idea out of your head straight away.
Some of these points may have seemed like common sense, however anyone who is going to keep up with water sports such as kayaking, stand up paddleboarding or surfing will benefit from looking after their neoprene wetsuits.
Wetsuits are an expensive purchase. With the right care and maintenance you can get much more life and enjoyment from them.