As much as we’d like to, you can’t just toss your dirty wetsuit into the washing machine after a diving vacation in Aruba or after you hit some major waves at Rincon Point. You also can’t wait for it to dry out on a hanger, hoping that the smell it picked up in the ocean will just work itself out (spoiler: it won’t). So, how exactly do you safely care for a wetsuit?

Proper maintenance of a wetsuit or a scuba drysuit will keep them conditioned and ready to go out on the ocean or the lake at a moment’s notice, while also giving such gear longevity. This means you won’t have to spend money on a new suit and you don’t have to part with your old one, which has been with you on all of your most epic adventures. 

Does your old suit need a little TLC, or are you new to surfing or diving and want to learn the basics on how to care for your wetsuit? Here are some tips on maintaining your neoprene gear including booties and gloves.

Wash and Rinse

Whether you’re going for a relaxing SUP session out on the lake or you’re pushing yourself at your next triathlon, your wetsuit is going to be along for the watery journey, which may or may not include interesting smells from the water you’re swimming in, salt from the ocean, or (let’s just admit it right here) pee. This can result in a stiff, faded, grimy, smelly suit that needs to be cleaned pronto — or even replaced, if it’s neglected long enough.

Whatever you do, however, don’t machine wash or dry your suit as this will lead to damaged neoprene (AKA the rubber that your suit is made of that gives it good insulating properties).

Instead, use this easy wash and rinse routine to keep your wetsuit clean and supple: 

  • Mix Revivex Wetsuit and Drysuit Shampoo in a clean bin or bucket with cold water.
  • Knead your wetsuit to wash it, wringing out excess water after it’s good and “scrubbed.”
  • After the shampoo rinse, empty out your bin or bucket, making sure to get out the shampoo suds. Pro tip: use the sink or a smaller five-gallon bucket to save water.

  • Mix Revivex Odor Eliminator with some cold water into your bin/bucket to deodorize the fabric and remove funky smells.
  • Dip your suit into the mixture and soak it, then hang it up on a padded wetsuit hanger to dry.

For best results, wash and rinse your wetsuit after each use.

Dry

Did you know there’s a right and wrong way to hang up and dry your wetsuit? The sun’s UV rays and the dryer can cause serious damage to the material, stretching it out, causing it to fade, and damaging that neoprene that helps protect you in the water.

To dry your wetsuit safely, do the following:

Zipper Care

Swimming, diving, and paddling around in salty water and near sandy marshes can be the mortal enemy of zippers, causing them to get stuck thanks to sand, salt, and debris that gets caught in them.

To unstick your wetsuit’s zipper, perform the following steps:

  • Get your zipper unstuck by removing the sand and salt debris using the brush that comes with our Zipper Cleaner and Lubricant, which can get into the pull tab and the slider effectively.
  • Apply the lubricant and pull the zipper up and down to loosen it up and get it back in working order.

In addition to your wetsuit zipper, you can also use our Zipper Cleaner & Lubricant on duffel bags, booties, and any of your other gear that needs to be zipped.

Store

Lastly, when caring for your wetsuit, you’ll need to know how to properly store it for future use. Crumpling it up, folding it improperly or hanging it on a plastic hanger can cause creases, rolls, or folds that prevents the suit from properly conforming to your body. 

Here’s how to store your wetsuit after you’re done using it:

  • Keep it flat in a safe, dry space that doesn’t get direct sunlight.
  • Roll it up to prevent creasing and weird folds.
  • Hang it up on a padded wetsuit hanger to prevent stretching in the shoulders.

Repair

Things can happen to your wetsuit out on the water — you snag it on a piece of coral, you clumsily fall down around some big rocks, or maybe your dog just got to it. Whatever caused the tear or unraveling seam, there’s no need to go out and buy a new one. Wetsuit repair is easy to learn and can save you tons of time and money.

Here are a couple of ways to repair your wetsuit with simple-to-use products:

  • Patch up rips, holes, and unraveling seams using an iron-on method with Tenacious Tape Iron-On Neoprene Patch, which easily bonds to neoprene suits and waders and gives it continued good flexibility in the water.
  • Seal up tears and holes and permanently bond your neoprene with Aquaseal Neoprene Contact Cement, which repairs gear in half an hour.

Now that you know the proper maintenance for your neoprene wetsuit, you can also apply these same principles to your booties, gloves, jacket, and PFDs — so you’re always ready to hit the waves or head out on the water with clean gear that will last a lifetime’s worth of adventures.

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