How To Look After Your Wetsuit

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Ten Step Guide to Prolonging the Life of your Wetsuit


Once you’ve found the perfect wetsuit, you don’t want it to tear or ‘dry out’ after the first few uses. To help make sure that this doesn’t happen, it is important to look after your wetsuit and care for it properly after every use. Both salt water and chlorine can degrade neoprene and can make it more delicate and less elastic.

Here are ten steps that, if followed, will extend the life of your watersport companion:

1. Take it off carefully! 
Unzip all of the zips and open any fastenings before you take your wetsuit, then remove it section by section. Take particular care with your fingernails when removing the suit. They’re usually the culprits when it comes to wetsuit tears.

2. Rinse! 
Once you’ve taken off your wetsuit for the day, make sure that you rinse it is fresh water as soon as possible. Not only will your suit start to smell if you don’t rinse it out after every use, salt water and chlorine can cause it to lose its flexibility. Don’t rinse your suit in hot water though! Heat is also bad for neoprene and can cause it to lose its shape, which will mean that you won’t stay as warm in the water. Only use cold or tepid water to rinse your suit out.

3. Soak! 
It’s good practice to soak your wetsuit in a bath of warm (never hot) water after rinsing it off. About 15-20 mins soaking is ideal. Once you have allowed it to soak for a while, you could always give it an extra rinse in fresh water to ensure that all the little sand grains, salt and chemicals have been washed off. Don’t use any detergents or put your wetsuit in the washing machine – chemicals and heat are the enemies of neoprene!

4. Dry thoroughly! 
If you put your wetsuit away when it’s still damp, it will quickly start to smell. Turn the wetsuit inside out to dry the inside first and leave open all of the zips so that the air can circulate. The best way to dry your wetsuit is to hang it up. Make sure, however, that you don’t use metal or wire hangers as these can cause permanent creases and rips in the suit. A special wetsuit hanger or a wide plastic hanger is best.

5. Dry naturally but avoid the sun! 
Do not dry your suit in an electric dryer or on the radiator – the heat will damage your wetsuit. Also, one of the worst things you can do to your suit is keep it in the sun for prolonged periods of time. The UV rays will break down the material and cause the surface of the suit to dry out. This, in turn, with cause cracks and tears. Dry your wetsuit in an airy place – perhaps outside in the shade or in an airy room.

6. Look after your zips! 
When you rinse your suit, pay particular attention to the zips . Salt on the zips will corrode them, especially if they are metal, and make them prone to breaking. It’s also good practice to avoid pulling the zip cord at an angle that is very different to the path of the zip. Yanking the zip in all sorts of directions may cause it to break.

7. Check for tears! 
Before you store your wetsuit for the winter, check it for nicks or tears. Tiny tears can easily be patched up with the help of a little neoprene adhesive. Small holes and tears are inevitable in neoprene, but they will not ruin the wetsuit if they are noticed in good time and taken care of.

8. Store flat or hanging! 
Wetsuits that are stored folded, scrunched up or on wire hangers can develop permanent creases. These will affect how effective the wetsuit is at keeping you warm and may contribute to tears or holes in the suit. Store the suit in a way that makes it look like it does when you’re wearing it.

9. Deal with smells! 
If your wetsuit starts to smell, it could be because it has not been properly rinsed and dried thoroughly after use. It could also be the smell of urine if it’s been ‘warmed up’ a lot in the water. To try and stop it from smelling and the smell just getting worse, you could use a specialised wetsuit shampoo on the suit after every few uses. Although this shouldn’t be necessary if the suit is washed, soaked and dried properly after every use. Ammonia that is found in urine can also damage the wetsuit if it isn’t rinsed out thoroughly.

10. Don’t iron your wetsuit! 
This is self-explanatory but just in case... NEVER take an iron to a wetsuit in order to remove any creases. It will not survive the ordeal and you’ll have to buy a new one.

May you and your wetsuits live a long and happy life together.

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