Want to know how to wash a wetsuit? This isn’t a tough task, but it’s important to avoid some common mistakes like forgetting to rinse it immediately and using harsh chemicals.
Get yourself a specialist wetsuit cleaner or a gentle detergent suitable to be used as a wetsuit wash.
Washing neoprene is an important way to preserve the fabric long-term, so be sure to know how to clean neoprene before you start.
Water sports are big these days. Many of us are into sailing, surfing, jet-skiing and the like. And if you’re going out on the water, you’ll be wanting a good quality wetsuit to keep you warm. If you’re shelling out for a wetsuit it’s important to keep it in good condition. One of the most important ways to do that is knowing how to wash a wetsuit and how to get it dry. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts on how to clean a wetsuit, answering important questions like how to clean neoprene and what kind of wetsuit cleaner to use.
It’s important to know how to wash a wetsuit. Make sure to rinse it out as soon as you finish using it. If you’re opting for normal washing liquid then try a gentle detergent like Surf.
Do . . .
. . . Make sure to rinse out your wetsuit with clean (i.e. non-salt) water as soon as you’ve finished using it. Lots of people find it convenient to simply wear it into the shower.
. . . Clean the wetsuit with a specialist wetsuit wash product or use a gentle detergent like Comfort or Persil. Read our guide to hand washing clothes for more detail.
. . . Drip dry the wetsuit by hanging it up somewhere cool and dark. Once you have the answer to ‘how do you wash a wetsuit’ it’s important to know how to dry it too!
. . . Also, be sure to dry the suit inside out. This will protect the outer surface from too much exposure. It also means the inside will dry first, which is handy for when you next want to wear it.
. . . Lubricate the zip on your wetsuit every few wears, especially if you’re using it in the sea. Salt residue can build up inside the zip, preventing it from working. Chlorine also has the potential to cause damage to your wetsuit.
Don’t . . .
. . . Wash your wetsuit in hot water. People sometimes question, ‘can you wash a wetsuit in hot water or in a washing machine’, but this should be avoided as washing neoprene at hot temperatures can reduce flexibility.
. . . Use harsh detergents, bleach or other strong chemicals as these can cause damage. Try wetsuit wash i.e. a specialist wetsuit cleaner or a gentler laundry liquid.
. . . Try washing neoprene with any other garments – wetsuits need space of their own.
. . . Scrunch up your wetsuit or put it away before it’s completely dry.
. . . Use a wire hanger. These are far too harsh and could tear into the fragile material. Instead, invest in a padded hanger. You can get specially designed wetsuit hangers from some water sports gear manufacturers.
. . . Iron your wetsuit. The heat is much too high for neoprene fibres and could cause serious damage.
How to maintain your wetsuit?
Proper maintenance of a wetsuit can help prolong its lifespan and keep it in good condition. After each use, rinse the wetsuit with fresh water to remove saltwater, sand, and debris. Use a wetsuit-specific cleaner to deep clean occasionally, following the product instructions. Avoid using harsh detergents or hot water, as they can damage the neoprene material. Hang the wetsuit to dry in a shaded area, away from direct sunlight, to prevent fading and deterioration. Store the wetsuit flat or loosely folded to avoid excessive creasing. Regularly inspect for any signs of damage or wear and patch small holes or tears with neoprene cement to prevent further damage.
The Importance of Wetsuit Hygiene: Keeping Yourself and Your Suit Healthy
Taking good care of your suit not only keeps you comfortable, but it can prevent some pretty nasty infections and diseases.
Bacteria and Fungi
Wetsuits are a prime breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, particularly around the armpits and groin area. Not only is this gross, but it can cause some pretty unpleasant health issues. Wetsuit dermatitis, a red, itchy rash, is common among people who fail to wash their suits regularly. Meanwhile, Tinea cruris, commonly known as jock itch, can also thrive in the warm, moist environment of a wetsuit.
Staph and MRSA
You might think that keeping your wetsuit clean is unnecessary, after all, you’re the only one wearing it, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Staphylococcus, commonly referred to as staph, can live on your skin without causing harm. However, if it manages to enter through a small cut or wound, it can turn into a staph infection or MRSA, a serious antibiotic-resistant infection. Regularly washing your wetsuit can help prevent the build-up of staph, protecting both yourself and your suit.
Many people forget that cleaning their wetsuit isn’t just about removing bacteria and fungi. Exposure to chlorine, sweat, and saltwater can all cause damage and wear and tear to the suit. A good rinse with tap water after every use is a good start to prevent damage. For a deeper clean, open up your suit and soak it in a bucket or tub with mild detergent. Avoid any harsh chemicals that could lead to cracking or fading of your suit.
Cleaning your wetsuit isn’t enough. Proper storage of your wetsuit is just as important as cleaning it. Leaving your wetsuit in your car or in direct sunlight can lead to degradation, especially when storing it when it's still wet. Always hang your suit in a cool, dry place after washing it. A wide hanger will allow for quicker drying and keep your suit from stretching out of shape.
Replacement and Disposal
Even with proper care and storage, wetsuits have a lifespan, so it's important to know when it's time to replace them. Over time, the suit will lose buoyancy and retain more water, making it heavier and less effective. Once your suit starts to feel too heavy or takes too long to dry, it's time to invest in a new one. That being said, it's important to dispose of your old suit responsibly, either by recycling, selling or donating it.
Those are the basic dos and don’ts of getting your wetsuit clean and dry ready for your next sporting adventure. While sea salt, UV rays and chlorine can all take their toll on this special fabric, with a bit of care, you’ll be able to preserve it for much longer.