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How to Wash Wetsuits Properly

June 6, 2023

There are several types of wetsuits and while they’re all made for the same purpose, they vary in thickness, style, and material. Here are some of the most common kinds:

how to wash wetsuitsThe Full Wetsuit:  This kind of wetsuit covers your entire body – from your legs up to your neck, and ranges from 3/2mm to 5/4mm thick.

The Hooded Full Wetsuit: This type of wetsuit comes with a hood that prevents heat from escaping from the head.

The Long John Wetsuit: The long John wetsuit is different from the full wetsuit in that it doesn’t have any sleeves. While your arms won’t be protected, it allows for better paddling, which makes it ideal for some sports such as kayaking.

What Material Are Wetsuits Made Of?

Almost all wetsuits are made from neoprene fabric, a type of synthetic rubber that’s known for its insulating properties.

Not only is it durable but it’s also flexible, which allows it to fit tight on the body. Plus, it’s entirely waterproof.

How to Choose the Right Wetsuit For You

Here are a few things to consider when picking a wetsuit.

The Water Temperature

how to choose a wetsuitThe water temperature is something that you want to consider. If anything, it will determine the thickness of the suit.

Generally speaking, the colder the water, the thicker you’ll want it to be.

If the water temperature is above 73F, you likely won’t need a wetsuit – you can just wear a rashguard instead for sun protection.

The Activity

Different activities call for different wetsuits.

For example, you might want something with a little bit of extra padding if you’re paddling in the rapids. On the other hand, you’ll want something thinner for lower resistance if you plan on swimming.

The Proper Fit

As a general rule, you want your wetsuit to fit as snugly as possible – that’ll prevent your body heat from escaping.

In other words, it shouldn’t be bunching or folding under the arms or behind the knees; it should take you a bit of effort to put on.

At the same time, you don’t want it to be too tight. You can tell if it’s too tight if it’s painful, restrictive or if you can’t freely move your legs or arms.

Proper Wetsuit Care Instructions

The Importance of Rinsing Your Wetsuit

Wetsuits are similar to swimsuits in that you want to rinse them with cool water after each wear. That’ll remove any sand, salt, or body oils that might be on the fabric.

Make sure you don’t use hot water or put it out in direct sunlight as heat can damage and break down the neoprene material.

Can You Put Wetsuits in the Washing Machine?

how to wash a wetsuit in the washing machineIt’s best not to put your wetsuits in the washing machine. Having said that, they are machine washable – as long as you take the proper steps.

For one thing, you don’t want to wash the suit with anything else as it can cause damage to the fabric.

As far as detergent goes, you want to use something mild and natural like ACTIVE Detergent. You can also use a specially formulated wetsuit cleaner. Baby shampoo will also do in a pinch.

Set the washing machine to delicate or gentle and run a cold fresh water cycle. Skip the spin cycle, if possible, as the spinning action can damage the seams.

Once the wetsuit is done rinsing, hang it up to dry right side out with a thick hanger. Do not leave it outside under direct sunlight – the sun’s UV rays will permanently damage the fabric.

You can also gently press the wetsuit with your hand to get rid of the excess water.

After a day or so, flip the suit inside out so that you’re drying the inner layer of the garment. Depending on the thickness of your wetsuit, it can take several days for it to dry completely. Remember to keep the zippers open – that’ll give you more airflow, which will speed up the drying process.

Wait until the wetsuit is completely dry and moisture-free before putting it back in storage.

Never should you put your wetsuit in the dryer, even if it’s soaking wet. The high temperature inside the machine will ruin the neoprene and your suit.

How to Wash A Wetsuit By Hand

how to hand wash wetsuitsHand washing your wetsuit is the best option when it comes to longevity.

Start by filling a tub with lukewarm fresh water. Don’t use hot water; it can shorten the wetsuit’s life by damaging the neoprene material.

Next, add half a scoop of ACTIVE Detergent and dissolve the powder.

Prepare your wetsuit by opening all of the zippers – that will give you easy access to all of the areas. We also recommend turning it inside out – that’ll allow you to clean the interior, where most of the sweat tends to accumulate.

Submerge your wetsuit in the water and gently knead the fabric to work in the detergent.

Allow it to soak for at least 20 minutes before emptying the dirty water from the tub. Rinse your wetsuit thoroughly with clean water until all the detergent is gone.

Hang your wetsuit with a padded wire hanger and allow it to air dry. Flip the garment after 24 hours or so to dry the other side. The zippers should be left open for maximum air circulation.

How to Remove Odors From Wetsuits

how to remove odors from wetsuitsIt’s not uncommon for wetsuits to develop a musty smell, especially if it’s left damp for a while.

The good news is it’s possible to remove the odors. For example, you can use baking soda.

Start by filling a large tub with cold water. Add your laundry detergent and submerge the suit, making sure that it’s inside out.

Add one cup of baking soda to the water and agitate the solution with your hand. Gently knead the neoprene material to work in the soapy mixture and let it soak for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse well afterward with clean water.

Alternatively, you can use white vinegar. The steps are the same except instead of adding baking soda, you want to add a cup of vinegar.

Its acidic nature will help to neutralize any odor that’s present. Rinse the suit clean with water afterward and there shouldn’t be any vinegar scent when you’re finished.

Knowing How to Clean Your Wetsuit – FAQS

Can you wash a wetsuit with lukewarm water?

It’s best to wash your wetsuit with cold water; hot water (even tepid water) can cause damage to the neoprene material over time.

How should you dry a wetsuit?

Wetsuits should not be put in the dryer. Let them air dry instead in a well-ventilated area. Be sure to leave the zippers open and turn the suit inside out after 24 hours.

What kind of cleaning agent should you use to wash a wetsuit?

ACTIVE Detergent is a great option for several reasons. Not only is it gentle but it also contains enzymes that will penetrate the neoprene material to break down sweat and other gunk.

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Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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