The shelf life of a wetsuit is super dependent on how well you look after it and if you’re keen not to have to buy a new one each season then it’s worth taking the time to give it a bit of TLC each time you use it. Here are a few bits of wetsuit care advice to help you on your way:
How to clean your wetsuit
Rinse in fresh water
As soon as you can (once you’ve struggled your way out of it) give it a really good rinse in fresh water and if possible leave it to soak for a good 10 minutes.
Hand wash with wetsuit shampoo a couple of times a year
This will get rid of any chemical build up and help keep the neoprene and stitching in good condition for longer. McNett do a good wetsuit shampoobut a mild shampoo or baby shampoo will work well too. Ensure that all the soap is rinsed out thoroughly.
Lube the zip
The zip can be the weakest part of the wetsuit and often the most difficult to repair so give it a lube every few months.
Never put it in the washing machine or tumble drier
Not to state the obvious, but wetsuits are not meant for industrial cleaners! High temperatures are very damaging to the neoprene and even on a low temperature setting the residues in the washing machine can do a lot of damage.
How to dry a wetsuit
Make sure the hanger is wide and substantial – avoid thin metal ones. The weight of the wetsuit pulling on something flimsy will gradually weaken and then mis-shape the neoprene damaging it’s elasticity and making it ill-fitting and less functional. Even better, fold the wetsuit over the horizontal bar of a trouser coat hanger.
Never dry in direct sunlight
UV rays are one of the most damaging elements that a suit has to contend with. The rays break down the molecular bonds in the neoprene causing the suit to become hard and brittle which can result in cracks and tears.
Don’t dry in high temperatures
Excessive heat will cause neoprene to lose it’s elasticity and shape which again, leaves the wetsuit susceptible to tears and rips. Avoid hot water and even leaving it in the back of your car on sunny days.
Hang inside out
It’ll most likely come off your body inside out, so leave it like that when you hang dry it. If it’s not fully dry by the time you go to use it again, it’ll be drier on the inside and much easier to put on! It’ll also protect the outside from any damage that may occur through heat or UV rays.
How to store your wetsuit
Make sure it’s completely dry
This is essential to avoid mould build up and unwanted odours lingering in the closet.
Hang on a wide hanger or store flat
Never fold a wetsuit for a long period of time so where possible, store on a wide padded hanger. If you need to fold it then folding it around a cardboard tube will help prevent any damage.
To pee or not to pee?
Will it warm you up? Yes. Relieving? Yes! But peeing in your wetsuit can actually cause damage over time. The acid in the urine will slowly rot and destroy the neoprene, so try not to make too much of a habit of it.