How to: Care for your Wetsuit

wetsuit-hanging-to-dryTaking proper care of your wetsuit can extend its lifespan and save you money. Maintaining the neoprene material, rinsing your wetsuit with freshwater and hanging it to dry properly will preserve its fit and quality. It’s also important to break any bad habits of storing your wetsuit in the back of your trunk, or folding it over a balcony railing in the sun. Take these tips on how to avoid damaging your wetsuit and preserve its fit and flexibility.

About Neoprene
Neoprene is a material made of cell-closed air bubbles that provides superior insulation in the water which keeps you warm and extends your surf session. In order to maintain the fit and lifespan of the suit, this wetsuit material needs to be properly cared for. Neoprene is flexible, and will stretch in some places with wear. Because the fit can change, it’s best not to lend your wetsuit to your big-shouldered friends who may stretch it out.  Be mindful that watches, keys and necklaces can catch on the neoprene and tear your suit. Neoprene does not fare well in hot water; do not wash your wetsuit using hot water or bleach. Never put your wetsuit in a washing machine.

Rinse
It’s no secret that wetsuits can stink, and sometimes even wreak. Leave your suit dripping wet in your car after a surf session and you’ll come back to the unpleasant aroma of over-heated neoprene and salt. However there are ways to keep your wetsuit bacteria level and odor at a minimum. After surfing, as soon as possible, rinse your wetsuit with freshwater. If you’re lucky enough to surf a break with some sort of showering facility, give it a good rinse inside and out. At best, rinse the outside of your suit at the beach and fully rinse it when you get home using a hose, or rinse off in the shower with cool water. As you’d probably guess, peeing in your wetsuit is not recommended, but we’ll leave that one up to personal preference.

Hang to dry
The best method for hanging your suit is with a hanger specifically designed for wetsuits, which you should be able to find at your local surf shop for around $20. Hang your suit in the shade or in the shower. Always make the effort to hang your wetsuit to dry, and avoid folding it. Turning your wetsuit inside-out before hanging it can help maintain flexibility of the suit. Do not leave your wetsuit sitting in the sun; this will alter the fit and damage the neoprene. Hanging your wetsuit on a metal railing (such as on a balcony) can stain and erode the suit. Remember to avoid punctures in your wetsuit; be aware of where you hang it to dry.

Fixing holes
Nothing is worse than finding a hole in your wetsuit. Luckily you can repair minor tears with neoprene repair adhesive, found at most surf shops. This glue is designed to seal the neoprene material back together and protect against abrasion.  Make sure the area around the tear is clean and dry when you apply the neoprene adhesive.  Apply to both sides of the tear and pinch together. Allow the glue to dry (out of the sun in a cool area) before wearing it. Complete wetsuit repair kits are also available.