Wetsuits are a great way to stay warm in the cold water. However, they tend to hold a lot of water and be quite difficult to dry quickly, especially in cold rainy weather. If you need to dry your wetsuit quickly can you throw it in the dryer?
You can put a wetsuit in the dryer but it's not recommended. If you place your wetsuit in the dryer put the dryer on warm air or cold air only – don't use hot air as it can damage the wetsuit. Dryer use will lower the lifespan on your wetsuit and cause it to deteriorate faster.
Ideally it's best to squeeze out your wetsuit and hang it up to dry out of direct sunlight. While it can be unpleasant to put on a wet wetsuit most people will choose this over putting their wetsuit in the dryer just because the dryer does have the potential to ruin your wetsuit.
Read on to learn what happens if you put wetsuits in the dryer and the right way to dry them safely.
How To Dry Your Wetsuit In The Dryer
Yes, a lot of people dry their wetsuits in the dryer without any issues and the general consensus is that while you should avoid using the dryer for your wetsuit doing it every now and then isn't the end of the world (or the end of your wetsuit).
However, if you do plan on throwing your wetsuit in there are some simple guidelines you should follow:
Keep The Dryer on Low Heat or Cold Air Only
Excessive heat can cause the neoprene to break down, releasing the tiny bubbles that keep you warm as well as stretching your wetsuit as a result.
High heat can also melt some of the glues used to make the wetsuit which can cause seams to begin to break and allow more water into your wetsuit.
If you place your wetsuit in the dryer use the low heat setting or use the cold air only setting.
Rinse and Ring Out Your Wetsuit First
You don't want to put a wetsuit full of salt water in your dryer as this could potentially damage your dryer.
Make sure to rinse your wetsuit first and then ring out as much excess water as possible before putting it in the dryer.
This will minimize the time your wetsuit spends in the dryer, minimize the potential wear and tear and damage the dryer may cause to your suit.
Turn Your Wetsuit Inside Out
If you want to quickly dry your wetsuit so you can re-wear it as soon as possible then it's a good idea to turn your wetsuit inside out.
While wetsuits don't keep you dry the neoprene wetsuits are made out of is actually waterproof. This means the air from the dryer will have a harder time getting into the inside of the suit to dry it.
By turning your wetsuit inside out you can dry the inside making it cosy to get into. The outside may still be a bit damp but this shouldn't matter too much.
Take Your Wetsuit Out Before It's Fully Dry
It's a good idea to just use the dryer to get your wetsuit 90% of the way towards dry. If your wetsuit completely dries out and then remains in the dryer with the dryer on this is when deterioration to the neoprene can really occur.
So pull your wetsuit out when it's mostly dry and then hang it up to dry out the final 10%.
What Can Happen To Your Wetsuit if You Put It In The Dryer?
You might be wondering what will happen if you put a wetsuit in the dryer? Will it combust into flames or melt into a puddle…no it won't.
If you put a wetsuit in the dryer it is unlikely to get ruined unless you have the dryer on high. However, the high temperatures of the dryer and the constant tumbling of the wetsuit can damage the neoprene and seams and is likely to reduce the lifespan of your wetsuit.
Also, placing your wetsuit in the dryer may void your warranty.
It Can Damage the Neoprene
One of the primary materials used to make wetsuits is neoprene. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that can keep oil, water, and heat out. It is also a good insulator, making wetsuits a warmer option in colder climates.
Neoprene is a durable material in many ways. However, certain things can damage the integrity of the material. Heat, sunlight, saltwater, and non-compatible cleaning agents can cause neoprene to deteriorate.
Dryers produce a lot of heat. As such, they can damage the neoprene.
Generally what will happen here is the neoprene will begin to break down releasing the tiny bubbles and causing them to collapse. This means less insulation for you and could even eventually lead to tears, cracks or breaks in the rubber over time.
If you have a perfectly fitting wetsuit the dryer can actually stretch your wetsuit so it may end up becoming larger and not fitting quite as well.
It Can Damage the Seams of Wetsuits
The seams of wetsuits are crucial to keeping water out while still allowing for flexibility. Seams are strategically placed in some regions of wetsuits to allow for maximum flexibility. The seams are also connected through a variety of methods. They may be stitched, glued, or neoprene tape can be used to seal them fully.
Regardless of how wetsuits are made, a dryer can harm the strength of their seams. It does this by weakening the stitching, glue, or neoprene. When the seams lose their strength, the wetsuit will begin to separate or allow water to escape into it.
It May Void the Warranty
Some wetsuits come with warranties. However, these warranties are conditional on whether you follow the proper care guidelines.
These guidelines state that you cannot put a wetsuit in the dryer. In doing so, you invalidate the warranty. If the dryer, or future use, damages the wetsuit, you will not be able to use the warranty for a reimbursement.
How To Quickly Dry Your Wetsuit Without a Dryer
Now that you know why you shouldn’t use a dryer, let’s talk about what you should do.
There are some easy steps to follow to dry your wetsuit quickly. First, make sure to rinse it in fresh water. Then, squeeze excess water out to speed up the drying process. Finally, hang it out under the shade, ideally away from direct sunlight, to dry.
If you've got booties or gloves then check out the following drying guides:
1. Rinse in Freshwater
Saltwater, minerals, and chemicals can all damage your wetsuit. That’s why it’s essential to give it a rinse in freshwater after use. You can even do this while wearing it, much like a swimsuit.
With frequent use, a wetsuit can pick up bacteria, sweat, or a foul odor. One remedy for this is to use a wetsuit wash as you are rinsing it off. Some cleaning agents do not work well on wetsuits and can damage them.
Use a wetsuit-suitable wash such as Gear Aid’s Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo (available at Amazon). It works well with expensive neoprene products and can help you keep your wetsuit longer.
2. Squeeze Excess Water Out
Squeezing excess water out of the wetsuit will help it dry faster. Much like hair, when we towel-dry it, it dries faster because we’ve eliminated a lot of the water. When doing this, you can roll it up in a towel and press it down, allowing the towel to absorb the water. Or you can roll it with your hands and squeeze.
Whichever route you take, it is crucial to do so gently. Being too rough or pulling at the material can cause damage.
3. Hang and Ventilate the Wetsuit Inside-Out
The next step is to hang the wetsuit to dry. Make sure the wetsuit isn’t bunched up, and the legs and arms of the suit are fully extended. It is recommended to hang it inside-out to prioritize drying the inside rather than the outside.
If the wetsuit does not have time to dry thoroughly, it will be more comfortable if the portion that touches your skin is dry.
Do not hang the wetsuit to dry in the sun. It may seem natural to put it in sunlight, but the heat can damage the suit like a dryer can. Instead, hang it in the shade or a dry place indoors. Many people hang it in their garages or a dry shower.
Investing in a good wetsuit hanger can open the wetsuit up and help it to dry faster.
4. Invest in a Wetsuit Dryer
Wetsuit dryers are hanger with fans in them that blow air through your wetsuit and can dry them in as little as 20-100 minutes.
You can click here to see my list of the best wetsuit dryers on the market but I personally like and recommend the Blawesome Wetsuit Dryer for the faster possible drying or the HangAir Hanger with build in fan (Amazon) for a more affordable option.
Both of these devices blow air through your wetsuit helping it to dry way quicker than it normally would. The Blawesome has the option to add a heating element to speed up the drying, but it isn't so hot that it'll ruin your wetsuit.
Why Is It Important To Dry a Wetsuit?
You may wonder if it’s necessary to dry your wetsuit at all. It is good to dry your wetsuit after each use for several reasons.
It is important to dry a wetsuit because wet material is a breeding ground for bacteria and mold to grow. Your sweat and body odor can contribute to this if not rinsed properly. As this builds up, it can cause your wetsuit to take on a musty smell.
Wearing a drysuit before jumping in the water is more comfortable. Wetsuits are meant to be tight, and putting one on can be a struggle even when dry. Putting one on wet might make it harder to pull up and feel cold on your skin.
You can always go surfing without a wetsuit if yours is wet. But surfers wear wetsuits to keep them warm and even if your wetsuit is wet to put on it'll still keep you warmer than no wetsuit at all. You can surf without a wetsuit, but it's not recommended if the weather is cold.
Keeping your wetsuit dry is the best way to preserve the quality of your wetsuit. Although it may seem like an easy fix to put your wetsuit in the dryer, it is not recommended.
The material used to make wetsuits is not dryer safe. Instead, follow the handy instructions above to dry your wetsuit safely.