The difference between a wetsuit with a one-year and six-year lifespan depends, to a certain extent, on how often you are using it. But to a larger extent, how well you take care of your wetsuit is going to either quicken or slow its deterioration. Below are 13 tips on how to care for your wetsuit.
1. Neoprene and hot water are not friends.
Neoprene loses some flexibility when soaked in hot water, so hop in a cold shower with your wetsuit on or only soak it in lukewarm water.
2. Sun and UV rays deteriorate neoprene.
Sun and UV rays both cause your neoprene wetsuit to age more quickly. So if you need your suit to dry, don’t try to hasten the process by placing it in the sun. In the long run, the neoprene will become hard and lose flexibility.
3. Don’t put your wetsuit in a hot trunk.
If your car has been sitting in a parking lot on a hot day, then putting your wet suit into the trunk is not a great idea. This will essentially “cook” your gear, increasing smells and breeding bacteria.
4. Turn your wetsuit inside out to dry.
To dry your wetsuit, it’s best to first turn it inside out before hanging it up. By turning the suit inside out, flexibility will be maintained on the outer side. This means that even if the wetsuit it not 100 percent dry the next time you put it on, you’ll for sure be crawling into a drier side.
5. Carefully store.
Carefully store your dry wet suit on a flat surface or hang on a wide coat hanger in your closet.
6. Quickly clean and dry your suit.
After a dive, don’t let your wet wetsuit sit in your dive bag, all stinky, messy and sandy. Clean the suit quickly and dry it completely before storing away. This type of regular wetsuit care will be sure to increase its lifespan.
7. Avoid “messy dressing.”
If you’re doing a beach or shore dive, keep your wetsuit up and away from the mud/sand — it’s not so comfortable to pull on a sandy wetsuit. Also, when you take off your wetsuit, stand on pavement, a rock, your changing bag, grass or anything other than the middle of the sandy beach.
8. Wetsuits don’t belong in the washer.
Neoprene wetsuits must be handled with care and can’t be put through the washer and dryer. You have to hand wash and air dry.
9. Can I iron my wetsuit? …. No!
It’s a no-brainer that you should not iron your wetsuit. Just look at the rubber areas around the zippers and knees. Also, if you were to iron the neoprene, that amount of excessive heat would make the suit very stiff.
10. Bleach is off-limits.
Strong washing agents, such as bleach, are way too harsh for your neoprene wetsuit (not to mention the discoloration that will occur). There are some mild cleansing agents, such as “Sink the Stink” and “Trident Wetsuit Cleaner” that you can purchase from your local dive shop, but regular dish detergent will work just as well (read on to find out how to get rid of wetsuit smells on your own).
11. Why does my wetsuit stink?
Your wetsuit can stink if it was left, wet, in a bag for a while and wasn’t rinsed. The smell comes from bacteria that begin to feed on the normal sweat and body oils and odors clinging to the wetsuit after we use it. Also, if you urinate in your wetsuit, the pee can leave an odor behind.
12. How to get rid of wetsuit smells and odors:
As I mentioned, there are special cleaning soaps and solutions for getting rid of wetsuit odors, but I personally find that there is an easy, more economical way to erase suit smells. Here is my homemade recipe for washing smelly wetsuits:
- 1st: Fill the tub up ¼ of the way with fresh, warm (not hot) water.
- 2nd: Add a couple tablespoons of dish washing detergent, just enough to get a dilute bubbly water bath for soaking.
Note: Some people will use laundry detergent, but I think even that is too harsh for neoprene (and tougher to rinse off). The only laundry detergent to consider using is Woolite.
- 3rd: Wash your wetsuit in the tub of soap and the detergent will break down the body oils and odors. In addition, it will help wash away the bacteria that caused the smell in the first place .
- 4th: Rinse your wetsuit in fresh water in order to get all the detergent off. Then hang your wetsuit up to dry in the fresh air (away from direct sunlight).
- 5th: Every few weeks, repeat this process to keep your wetsuit completely odor-free.