How To Wash Your Wetsuit | The Ultimate Guide
Today we talk about how to wash your wetsuit. When it comes to wetsuits, they are more than just gear for surfers; they are a second skin, providing comfort and protection against the elements. To ensure your wetsuit not only lasts for a long time, it's essential to routinely wash it. In this guide, we delve into the intricacies of wetsuit maintenance, covering everything from post-surf rituals to washing techniques, drying hacks, storage strategies, and common pitfalls to avoid.
The Basics: How To Care for Your Wetsuit
1. Change and Rinse
The first step in wetsuit care begins as you exit the water. Use a clean mat, towel, or a spacious plastic tub to prevent more dirt getting on your wetsuit. Changing out of your wetsuit while standing in the tub prevents it from coming into contact with potentially harmful debris on the ground. While this isn't necessary to do, it can help make your wetsuit last longer.
2. Immediate Rinse
Post-surf, give your wetsuit a thorough rinse with cool, fresh water. Ensure you wash both the interior and exterior, removing salt, sand, and any other residues. Using a plastic tub makes the rinsing process more efficient, allowing you to give your wetsuit the attention it deserves.
3. Proper Drying
Hang your wetsuit inside out, midway through the middle of a clothes hanger. Be mindful not to hang it from the neck or shoulders, as this can lead to undesirable stretching. Use a well-ventilated area for drying, and steering clear of direct sunlight as UV rays can break down neoprene, the material most wetsuits are made of. Once the outer side feels dry, flip your wetsuit right side out and continue the drying process in the shade. Avoid leaving your wetsuit outside overnight to prevent it from becoming damp by morning (unless you don't mind it being a little wet when you put it on the next day).
Once your wetsuit is fully dry, store it on a wide-shoulder hanger until you surf the next time. This helps maintain the suit's shape and prevents unnecessary creasing. If you bundle up your suit you increase the chances of it creating cracks along the seams.
Washing Your Wetsuit
While freshwater rinses are crucial for removing dirt and also saltwater, you do need to give it a deeper wash so it can last for years.
Every month or so, give your wetsuit a more thorough wash. Immerse it in cold fresh water and add a special neoprene soap or shampoo, readily available at surf shops. Follow the instructions on the product's label for an effective wash, ensuring a final rinse to remove any remaining soap residue. Gently squeeze out excess water and let your wetsuit dry as usual. This monthly ritual is the equivalent of giving your wetsuit a spa day, ensuring it remains fresh and ready for action.
Washing and Drying Your Wetsuit Booties
These are also easy to wash as well. While wetsuit booties have different shapes to them, they are no different to washing your wetsuit. Roll the tops of your booties down after rinsing, allowing air to circulate effectively. Consider washing your booties twice a month with neoprene soap for an added layer of freshness.
How To Dry Your Wetsuit Quickly
Drying your wetsuit promptly is not only practical but also crucial for maintaining its performance. Follow these steps for efficient drying, especially when time is of the essence:
1. Hang Strategically
After rinsing in fresh water, hang your suit halfway through a wide hanger in a well-ventilated bathroom, preferably over a shower or tub. This setup maximizes air circulation around the wetsuit.
2. Gentle Squeezing
Start squeezing out excess water gently, beginning at the shoulders and working your way toward the wrist openings. This process aids in expediting the drying time.
3. Repeat and Flip
Wait for approximately 30 minutes, then repeat the squeezing process. Once your wetsuit feels mostly dry, flip it right side out to expose the inner lining for continued drying.
4. Regular Squeezing
Continue squeezing the wetsuit every 30 minutes until it is completely dry. This stepwise approach helps ensure an even and efficient drying process.
Cold Weather Drying
In colder months, consider hanging your wetsuit to dry indoors in a well-ventilated space, such as a bathroom over a tub or shower. Cold or poorly ventilated areas, such as garages or basements, hinder the drying process. While hanging is the preferred method for wetsuits, stands work well for drying booties and gloves. Squeeze out the water as you would for the wetsuit, then place your booties on a mop or broom handle for optimal drying.
Storing Your Wetsuit
Always bring your dry wetsuit indoors after use. Storing it in a damp place can lead to your wetsuit eventually smelling pretty bad.
If you have multiple wetsuits for different seasons, some may spend part of the year in storage. Before stashing them away, ensure each wetsuit is completely dry to prevent the development of a musty smell. Lay suits flat without any creases or weight on them to maintain their shape.
Hanger Choices: Opt for broad-shoulder hangers or specialized wetsuit hangers, steering clear of wire hangers. In a pinch, use a regular plastic hanger and cut a pool noodle in half to fit over it.
Avoid Folding: Refrain from folding your wetsuit for extended periods, as creases can lead to damage in the neoprene material.
Sunlight and Temperature: Store your wetsuit away from direct sunlight and maintain a room temperature. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can degrade neoprene over time.
Don'ts and Warnings
1. Never Tumble Dry
The tumble dryer is not your wetsuit's friend. The heat and mechanical action can cause irreversible damage to the neoprene material. Always opt for natural drying methods.
2. Avoid Machine Washing
The washing machine is another adversary for your wetsuit. The agitation and detergents used in machines can compromise the neoprene's integrity, leading to reduced performance and lifespan.
3. Say No to Normal Laundry Detergent
Regular laundry detergent may seem harmless, but it can be harsh on the delicate neoprene. Stick to specially formulated neoprene soaps or shampoos designed for wetsuit care. If you have neither of those then just use a regular bar of soap.
4. Steer Clear of Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight accelerates the breakdown of neoprene, diminishing your wetsuit's lifespan. Always choose shaded areas for drying and storage.
5. Avoid Folding
As reiterated, creases resulting from folding can lead to cracks in the neoprene. Treat your wetsuit with care, avoiding actions that compromise its structural integrity. Folding is a big no no because you can create cracks in the neoprene, which will eventually turn into tears. And no one likes that.
6. Watch for Sharp Objects
Even seemingly innocuous objects like fingernails can damage neoprene. Always handle your wetsuit with care to prevent accidental snags and tears.
By following these comprehensive guidelines, you can ensure that your wetsuit remains not only a reliable companion but also a durable and fresh piece of equipment for countless surf sessions to come.