How to Wash Wetsuits

How to Wash Wetsuits
Wetsuits are neoprene gloves built for your body, thin shells of rubber filled with air bubbles that insulate a layer of water against your skin. The water, warmed by your body heat, helps to keep you warm as you swim, dive or surf in cold water. A wetsuit must be cleaned after each use to remove salt residue and organic material stirred up from the ocean, lake or river bottom. If they aren't removed, salt and organic matter can break down the fabric of a wetsuit and cause odors. Because certain typical cleaning processes like hot water or harsh detergents will degrade a neoprene wetsuit, taking special care when washing it and practicing regular preventative maintenance are the key elements to keeping your wetsuit in top shape.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Rinse your wetsuit thoroughly in fresh water after every use. The easiest ways of doing this are either to wear the wetsuit into the shower, then strip out of it and rinse the inside as well; or to take the wetsuit into the shower and make sure you rinse both the inside and the outside while you're there.
Step 2
Wash your wetsuit more thoroughly every few months by kneading it in a tub full of cool water mixed with a wetsuit or neoprene shampoo--see Resources for an example of the appropriate sort of shampoo. Work the zippers repeatedly while soaking the wet suit to remove any material caught in them.
Step 3
Hang the wetsuit to dry, inside out, away from direct sunlight and extreme heat--don't leave it in the trunk or the cabin of a car, or dry it in a clothes dryer. Both direct sun and extreme heat will degrade the neoprene. Once the inside of the suit is completely dry, turn it right-side-out and wait until the outside is completely dry before storing it.


Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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