Wetsuits are expensive, so it pays to take good care of your suit. It will last much longer and will take care of you in return! If you follow some simple care tips for your wetstuits, they will last much longer and won’t be as prone to cracks, leaks, torn seams, and other issues. They also won’t be as smelly, and will stay flexible and warm for several seasons.
After Surf Wetsuit Care
Once you’re done surfing, don’t crumple up your wetsuit and leave it in your trunk. The next time you use it you’ll probably get a peak all to yourself because you stink so bad! Aside from the nasty odor, saltwater actually degrades neoprene over time. If you want your suit to last and not become as stiff as cardboard, give it a thorough rinse in fresh water after your session.
Once you’re done rinsing your suit, hang it on a wide plastic hanger or rope (don’t use thin wire hangers—this can damage the suit) by draping it over at the waist, and let it drip dry. You can either hang it up over your tub or shower, or somewhere else with a pan underneath to catch the drips. Hanging it outside is an option as well.
Don’t hang the suit by the shoulders if you can avoid it for long periods of time – this will stress and stretch the shoulder material.
I like to dry my suits inside out if I’m going surfing the next day. This way at least the inside is dry when I’m putting on the suit. This makes it much easier to put the suit on, and it’s more pleasant on chilly mornings.
Tip: If you have a top loading washing machine at home that has a “hand washables” setting, you can throw your wetsuit in for the rinse cycle (don’t put it in for a whole wash and rinse cycle, and don’t put it in on a regular rinse setting). DO NOT USE SOAP! Just make sure your wetsuit doesn’t have buckets of sand on it. I’m not responsible for clogged plumbing!
Tip: If you have a large shower, you can just bring the suit in the shower with you after you surf to rinse it off. No, you don’t have to be wearing it. I find this to be fairly easy when I don’t have a free washing machine available. Just hang the suit up in the shower after you’re done to drip dry. Again, shake the sand off your suit before you do this.
A word of caution: If you live in heavily populated areas or areas with a lot of traffic, DO NOT leave your wetsuit hanging outside unattended in plain view. Even though people pee in their wetsuits, they are popular items to steal. My suit was stolen right off my clothesline when I was staying at a condo in Virginia Beach.
Peeing in your wetsuit
There are mixed opinions about peeing in your wetsuit, however if a surfer tells you they don’t do it they are lying. When you’re out in amazing waves and the nearest bathroom is far away, sometimes there’s no choice. Even if you’re close to a bathroom, it’s a pain to paddle in, take off your suit, and put it back on. It seems gross at first, but urine is sterile. Sometimes a quick flush of water down the neck of your wetsuit is enough to get it out of there during or after a session. Surfers who surf in the dead of winter love peeing in their wetsuits—it’s a great way to warm up!
If you do decide to pee in your wetsuit, rinse your suit well afterward. If you thought unrinsed, damp wetsuits stink, try unrinsed, urine drenched wetsuits. It’s a million times worse.
If your suit gets unbearably smelly and you can’t seem to get rid of the odor, there are several cheap products on the market that clean your wetsuit safely. Using common soaps and detergents is generally not a good idea, and can void your warranty and degrade the neoprene. Bleach is a no-no as well.
If you’re not going to be using your wetsuit for a while, don’t fold your suit and leave it in a drawer. This will put creases in it. The best way to store your suit is to hang it by the waist. Don’t hang it on hangers by the shoulders as this will stretch out the shoulders over time. There are special wetsuit hangers that will improve the life of your wetsuits and reduce creases.
Before putting your wetsuit away for the summer, wash your wetsuit with a good cleaner and let it dry thoroughly before hanging it draped at the waist over a wide hanger. Don’t store your wetsuit hanging by the shoulders, as this will cause excessive wear on the shoulders.