How to Clean Your Wetsuit

If you have a wetsuit, you know that it keeps you warm during your exciting water adventures. With that warmth may come sweat, and the more you wear your wetsuit, the more smelly it becomes. To ensure your suit lasts a long time, you want to rinse it after each use and wash it with a wetsuit cleaner regularly. So, what’s the best way to clean it? Keep reading to find out!

How to Clean Your Wetsuit

Keep your wetsuit fresh and long-lasting even after sweaty water sessions and other things that may spoil it by gathering up quality products before washing it. Then, you want to be sure you dry and store it properly. Keep reading for our best tips and tricks!

What’s the Best Way to Wash a Wetsuit?

A wetsuit is made with neoprene, a synthetic rubber used for insulation. A neoprene wetsuit keeps you warm while participating in water sports. Although water adventurers love their neoprene-made gear to keep them warm, it takes effort to keep them odor and bacteria-free.

To ensure your wetsuit stays fresh and lasts a long time, you want to cleanse it often and regularly use a wetsuit shampoo it while following a few straightforward steps:

  • Purchase a wetsuit cleaner.
  • Clean wetsuit.
  • Dry and store properly.

How to Clean Wetsuit: Regular Care

Wetsuits that stay fresh and last a long time require regular care. It’s best to do this after each use, and the best part is that it’s easier to clean a suit that was just in water and is still wet.

It's best to clean your suit after each use.
It’s best to clean your suit after each use. (Credit: Pearl PhotoPix/Shutterstock)

Here’s how to maintain regular care of your suit:

1. Rinse with fresh water.

The best thing you can do for your wetsuit is to thoroughly wash it with fresh water after every use. To do this, you don’t need to use a wetsuit cleaner. A good rinse should get rid of most of the sand, body oils, and salt or chlorinated water.

While cold or lukewarm water are both good to use, you should avoid rinsing under a warm shower. Hot water isn’t good for wetsuits. Not to mention, rinsing your wetsuit while you’re still wearing it doesn’t get it as clean as you want because this doesn’t allow you to clean the inside.

You can wash your wetsuit in a bucket, bath, or shower. Just be sure to wash out the inside, where most grime is being held.

2. Properly dry your wetsuit. 

Once you’re done rinsing, it’s time to let your wetsuit air dry. The best practice is to allow the wetsuit to dry completely before the next time you use it. Turn your suit inside out if it isn’t already. This will ensure the inside fully dries before putting it back on.

Avoid hanging your wetsuit from the shoulders, as this could cause it to stretch out. Instead, fold it at the waist and hang it on a heavy-duty hanger like this one. You may even want to invest in a special wetsuit hanger designed for this purpose. 

For the quickest drying, find a sunny spot to hang your wetsuit. And, remember it’s best to put on dry suits before hitting the water again.

How to Clean Wetsuit: Deep Cleaning

Anyone who’s ever owned a wetsuit knows that sooner or later, it’s prone to acquiring a pretty serious funk even if you’re diligent about rinsing it after every use. This is where a deep cleaning comes in handy.

Wetsuits need a deep cleaning with a special wetsuit cleaner every once in a while, especially when bad smells linger.
Wetsuits need a deep cleaning with a special wetsuit cleaner every once in a while, especially when bad smells linger. (Credit: Alexandr Jitarev/Shutterstock)

While you’ll follow the same steps for a deep clean as you do for your regular cleaning, you’ll want to use a uniquely formulated wetsuit shampoo (or wetsuit cleaner) for this process. Before starting, make sure to rinse any sand or other debris off your wetsuit. Turn it inside out and open all the zippers before following these steps:

  1. Fill a large container or bathtub with cool or lukewarm water. 
  2. Grab your wetsuit cleaner and follow the instructions to add the right amount of the product to the water.
  3. Put your suit in the water and knead it, gently starting at the shoulders and working all the way down to the ankles. This step is essential as it ensures you work the product in for maximum effectiveness. 
  4. Let your suit soak for ten minutes, or as recommended by the wetsuit shampoo intructions.
  5. Drain the soapy water and clean the product out of your wetsuit with clean water. You can do this by refilling the container or tub with water only or by rinsing it in a shower.
  6. Hang your wetsuit to air dry as you do for the regular rinse and dry method.

Continue reading for our recommendations for the best wetsuit cleaners.

How to Store a Wetsuit

As important as cleaning your wetsuit is, you also want to make sure you store it properly if you’re putting it away for more than a couple of weeks.

  • Store it completely dry. The most vital thing is to make sure that your wetsuit is completely dry before you put it away. Otherwise, there’s a good chance you’ll return to discover a moldy, unusable wetsuit.
  • Don’t store it folded up. Laying your wetsuit flat for storage is fine, but never fold it. If you store your wetsuit folded, you’ll create creases that are impossible to get out later.
  • Store it in a cool, dry place. As you have probably gathered by now, a wetsuit must be entirely dried after use. With that said, don’t store it in a place where it can get wet. A ventilated space that doesn’t collect moisture is best.

The Best Wetsuit Cleaners

Some people write off special wetsuit shampoos as unnecessary but believe us when we say that it’s a fundamental part of wetsuit care. Using your regular laundry detergent or worse, only water every time you clean your wetsuit doesn’t allow it to get entirely clean. Using a good wetsuit cleaner also allows you to bring back that soft feel your suit had when you first bought it.

When choosing a wetsuit cleaner, some things you may want to consider include no harmful chemicals, smell, and non-concentrated vs. concentrated shampoo.

While there are several popular wetsuit cleaner brands, we recommend the following as the best wetsuit cleaners.

Pau Pilau Wetsuit Cleaner and Conditioner (Most Eco-Friendly)

If you want a tried-and-true wetsuit shampoo, you can’t go wrong with Pau Pilau. This all-natural, environmentally safe wetsuit cleaner and conditioner is a favorite among many water sport enthusiasts. It safely cleans and deodorizes neoprene gear to restore it to its day-one condition.

While we love the Pau Pilau Wetsuit Cleaner, it’s worth mentioning that it’s not the most concentrated option due to its natural formula. There are also other products with longer-lasting scents if that’s what you’re looking for.

Gear Aid Wetsuit and Drysuit Shampoo (Best Smelling)

If you want a wetsuit shampoo that smells great, you’ll like the Revivex Wetsuit and Drysuit Shampoo. This concentrated formula cleans and conditions your wetsuit really well, preventing premature aging.

And while you may be quick to think the Gear Aid wetsuit cleaner packaging is strange, the design actually allows you to get every last bit of your wetsuit cleaner without any waste.

Jaws Slosh Wetsuit Shampoo (Most Affordable)

While Jaws Slosh Wetsuit Shampoo is affordable, it’s non-toxic and works well. In fact, it’s a top surfer’s choice. Its special conditioning agents give your wetsuit a fresh feel after washing. This natural formula works for all water sports wear including scuba equipment and even ski and hiking gear, it contains no harmful chemicals, and has a deodorizing effect.

O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner (Best All-Around)

The simple yet effective O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner gets your suit back in tip-top shape. It cleans and conditions wetsuits and neoprene products for long-lasting use. This O’Neill’s wetsuit cleaner is non-toxic, biodegradable, and cold-water activated.

Extra Wetsuit Care Tips

While regular rinsing and frequent use of high-quality wetsuit cleaner is crucial for getting rid of organic residue and prolonging the life of your suit, these care tips can also go a long way.

Caring for your wetsuit prolongs its lifespan and keeps it in top-notch shape.
Caring for your wetsuit prolongs its lifespan and keeps it in top-notch shape. (Credit: haireena/Shutterstock)

Avoid Peeing in It

Okay, we know this is easier said than done. But, avoid peeing in your wetsuit if possible. While we often think this is okay because we’re in the water anyway, it can actually damage the neoprene. It can also create a pretty serious funk, especially if you’re not diligent with rinsing it after each use and using a wetsuit cleaner for deep cleansing.

Just Leave Surfboard Wax

When wetsuits and surfboards come in contact, it’s impossible to avoid surf wax sticking to neoprene. While you may want to scrub it off, don’t because scrubbing the wax could mess up your wetsuit. With that said, you can gently spot clean it if you’d like.

Don’t Use a Washing Machine or Dryer

You probably noticed when we were going over how to use your wetsuit cleaner, we never mentioned a washing machine. This is because this can leave you with an unwearable wetsuit.

While cleaning your suit by hand takes a little more effort, you’ll be grateful you went this route.

Stay Away from the Iron

The materials of your neoprene wetsuit and an iron won’t go well together. Avoid ruining your suit and stay away from an iron. Instead, hang it to dry and store it hung up or lying flat to keep it looking nice.

Avoid Harsh Products

If you’re dealing with a persistent stench, you may be tempted to break out the bleach. However, harsh products like bleach and regular detergents shouldn’t be used to clean your wetsuit. These can damage the delicate closed-cell design that keeps cold water from flowing in and out. Be sure to stick to a special wetsuit cleaner and fresh water when washing your suit.

Be Gentle

We get it. After being in the water, you’re probably dying to get out of that wetsuit. But be gentle when you take it off. This ensures you don’t accidentally cause unnecessary wear or damage.

This can also be said for when you’re washing it. Although your wetsuit isn’t extremely delicate, be mindful when washing it.

Don’t Share Your Wetsuit

While you may want to allow a friend to borrow your wetsuit, we don’t recommend this. You want your wetsuit to last a long time for you. Allowing others to wear it could result in stretching or other damage that you would carefully avoid.

Final Thoughts

There you have it – everything you need to know about how to wash a wetsuit and store it. Some regular TLC combined with an occasional deep-clean should keep your wetsuit in excellent shape for years to come. 

Don’t forget to use a wetsuit cleaner that’s specially made for neoprene material for best results. And most importantly, enjoy your time out there in the water!

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