Learning how to wash a wetsuit is essential for anyone who wants to keep their wetsuit in good condition. A really good wetsuit can last you up to 10 years, so it’s worth taking the few minutes to care for it.
The following guide will teach you the process of washing a wetsuit and ensure that it stays clean and fresh for years! And we look at some tips to hack the cleaning process time at home.
Hot water will ruin the neoprene, so it’s important to rinse the wetsuit in cold freshwater. Tepid water is fine and may break up dirt, grease and salt more effectively than cold water.
Rinse your wet suit in freshwater before starting any cleaning process. Be sure to properly rinse the zipper on the inside of your wetsuit so that it doesn’t get stuck while you are trying to take it off later. Turn your wet suit inside out and rinse again–even if you don’t see anything on the outside.
How to Use Wetsuit Cleaners
After rinsing, take your wetsuit and place it in a container or bathtub with enough water to soak in. Again cool or tepid water is best.
It’s vital not to use soap when cleaning a wetsuit because soap can break down neoprene over time, which leads to you having to buy another before you need to.
Using vinegar should be done with caution. Due to the pH of vinegar, make sure it is well diluted in water when soaking your wetsuit.
Specially formulated wetsuit cleaners are your best option because they are designed not to damage the neoprene and the stitching of the suit.
Make sure not to wash it in the washing machine because this often leads to loss of elasticity, and wetsuits are generally too heavy for most washers.
For all the surfers out there asking about what to do about getting surf wax off? Unfortunately, there is no way of scrubbing neoprene without damaging it. It is just something you will have to get used to.
How to Hang Your Wetsuit Correctly
After washing, make sure to rinse any cleaning product from the wetsuit thoroughly both inside and outside.
It would be best if you air-dried your wetsuit on a clothesline or wide hanger folded over at the hip.
Doing this prevents the wetsuit from stretching under the weight of the water over time. And it will also save the seams in the long run.
We should mention that it is generally advised not to hang your wetsuit outside during the summer or in a location where there is direct sunlight. Doing so can cause mould and mildew to grow inside of the suit.
Instead, it would be best to store it in an area with good ventilation, such as a garage, basement, or cedar closet.
Hacks to Speed Up the Cleaning Process
Dumping a salty wetsuit that is also full of sand will not do the plumbing of your bathtub any favours. The best way to prevent rinsing sand down the drain is to change from your wetsuit without getting sandy in the first place.
- Find a grassy patch if you can and make the (unflattering) transition to your street clothes rather than trying to do it on the beach.
- If you are a forward planner, then consider getting a wetsuit changing mat or flexible plastic bucket to keep off the sand. You can dump the suit straight on top and then fold the mat or bucket around the wetsuit and pick it all up in one easy go.
- We should also mention that it’s typically not a good idea to rinse wetsuits using outside beach showers and to leave them to dry. This is because most municipal tap waters have chlorine which will break down neoprene over time. If you do use these, then make sure to rinse and dry again at home.
- Having a dry bag that you can take into the car will keep things from getting wet in your car. You won’t have to clean the boot or car when you are finished, either.
Long Term Wetsuit Storage Tips
If you are moving from one season to another and you need to store a wetsuit for a few months, then be sure that it is completely dry on both sides before putting it away.
You should also make sure to store it in a place that is not too hot or humid. The best idea is to find somewhere indoors and out of the way, perhaps even inside a wardrobe or under your bed.
If you have space, then try storing them flat (layered on top of each other) instead of vertically like a shirt which can cause the neoprene to stretch over time.
If you store them horizontally, you may need to inspect and breathe them from time to time to ensure mould does not take over.
*pro tip – It’s a well-kept secret that if you don’t want your zipper to seize while in storage, you can use a product such as snapstick to keep the zipper from bonding to itself while closed. This product safe to use on neoprene and will not damage the wetsuit if you get some on it.
The process of cleaning a wetsuit is not as simple as just throwing it in the washing machine and calling it good.
It’s important to know when you should wash your suit, how often, what products work best for neoprene, and how long you can leave it in storage so that everything is ready for next season.
We hope this guide has helped answer some of your questions about caring for kitesurf wetsuits properly. If you need more information or want to learn more about wetsuits, check out our buyers guide for some top-of-the-line wetsuits from brands like Slingshot, Rip Curl, and more.