We all know that we should hang our wetsuits to dry. But when my only options were to squeeze into a cold, damp wetsuit on a chilly morning or find another way to dry it faster, I was left wondering — is it ever okay to spin dry a wetsuit?
It’s okay to spin dry a wetsuit in a front load washing machine or a top load washer with no agitator, as long as it’s done infrequently. Spin drying a wetsuit too often will shorten its lifespan. A safer alternative for drying a wetsuit quickly is to towel dry it and hang using a wetsuit hanger or wetsuit dryer whenever possible.
Ultimately I decided that spin drying my wetsuit just that once was worth it. After all, it wouldn’t cause any serious damage and I could go back to hang drying next time.
I had a much more pleasant time walking to the beach that morning.
Below, I’ll teach you what I learned about safely spin drying wetsuits and give you a couple alternatives that could work even better.
Can You Spin Dry A Wetsuit?
You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t put a wetsuit in a washing machine, and generally that’s pretty reasonable advice for most people.
Wetsuits are easy to damage.
But if you’re careful and follow strict precautions, it is possible to spin dry a wetsuit without damaging it.
Neoprene Is Fragile
Most wetsuits are made of foamed neoprene, a super stretchy synthetic rubber that provides thermal insulation, added buoyancy, and protection from UV rays and marine life.
Unfortunately, it’s also a pretty fragile fabric — prone to stretching out, ripping, and tearing if not handled with care.
Much like lace, wool, velvet, and other delicate fabrics, it’s commonly recommended not to machine wash neoprene. But unlike those other fabrics, exceptions can be made on occasion.
Only Spin Dry A Wetsuit In Washers Without An Agitator
During spin drying, the washer spins at high speeds, pulling water from fabric using centrifugal force — which, when done sparingly, won’t really harm neoprene.
With some types of washing machines, however, there are increased risks.
An agitator is the large, finned column in the middle of many top load washers that twists and turns during the wash cycle to shake dirt particles loose from clothing.
It’s also a death sentence for neoprene.
If your wetsuit catches or snags on the agitator while spin drying, it can shred, tear, rip, stretch, and cause all sorts of damage.
Wetsuits should only ever be spin dried in front load washers and top load washers without an agitator.
You can also dry your wetsuit in the dryer instead of spin drying it in your washing machine but again cautions need to be taken so you don't ruin your neoprene.
When drying your wetsuit in the dryer you want to have it on cold air only (or potentially warm air but definitely NOT hot air). You want to squeeze out as much water as you can first and then take your wetsuit out before it's completely dry.
Don’t Make It A Habit
While it’s okay to spin dry your wetsuit on occasion, you shouldn’t do it too frequently.
Spin drying puts a lot of stress on neoprene. Even though no immediate damage will be apparent, if you routinely spin dry your wetsuit it will stretch and wear out more quickly.
To maximize the lifespan of your wetsuit, spin dry it sparingly and consider alternative ways to dry your wetsuit quickly. There are a lot of different techniques you can use to dry your wetsuit overnight, or even in a matter of hours.
If drying time isn’t a concern, it’s best to hang your wetsuit outside, in the shade, on a wetsuit hanger. Click here to see my list of the best wetsuit hangers on the market.
But a good recommendation is the Ho Stevie wetsuit hanger at Amazon. It's got wide shoulders to open your wetsuit up for maximum airflow and improved drying times but it also folds up small making it the perfect travel companion.
I also like that Ho Stevie is a brand owned by a surfer so I'm paying someone passionate about surfing and surf gear, not some random company.
With increased airflow from vented shoulders helps your wetsuit dry much faster than other hangers. Wide shoulders support the heavy wetsuit without damaging it and it folds with the push of a button making it perfect for travel. Plus if you hanger breaks you can contact Ho Stevie! for a refund or replacement.
Can You Also Wash The Wetsuit?
If you’re going to spin dry your wetsuit, it often makes sense to also wash it while it’s in there.
The same precautions still apply to maximize the lifespan of your suit — don’t use washing machines with an agitator and don't machine wash too frequently.
But there are a few additional precautions you should take when machine washing a wetsuit.
- Use the coldest water possible. Excessive heat can damage or shrink neoprene. Cold water will do a good enough job of cleaning your wetsuit.
- Use the most delicate cycle possible. The delicate setting will be much less likely to cause unnecessary wear and tear.
- Don’t use laundry detergent. Standard detergents are too harsh for neoprene. Wetsuit-specific shampoos and cleaners are much more gentle on your wetsuit. If you don’t have one handy, you can always use one of these wetsuit cleaner alternatives.
Just remember, much like hang drying, hand washing is always the preferred option. Click here to learn exactly how to wash a wetsuit properly.
Is Tumble Drying A Better Option Than Spin Drying?
Tumble drying a wetsuit on a low-heat or no-heat setting is a viable alternative to spin drying your wetsuit. And, in reality, it’s arguably not as tough on the neoprene.
But the same problems are present — the extended repetitive movements of the cycle will shorten your wetsuit’s lifespan.
If you decide to tumble dry your suit, you’ll need to remove it before it’s fully dry and hang to finish drying. Tumbling dry neoprene will cause additional stress to the fabric.
How To Safely Spin Dry A Wetsuit
Spin drying a wetsuit is pretty simple — you just need the right type of washer. Remember, only washing machines with no agitator are safe to spin dry a wetsuit in.
- Unzip any zippers and turn the wetsuit inside out.
- Place the wetsuit in the washer and flatten it against the bottom of a front load washer or as best you can against the wall of a top load washer (it will be kept in place by centrifugal force and will dry more evenly if not bunched up).
- Start the spin cycle and wait for it to finish.
- You’ll notice that the wetsuit is still slightly damp. Don’t run it through again. Spin drying is meant to remove as much moisture as possible, not to fully dry.
- Hang dry the wetsuit on a wetsuit hanger to finish the drying process.
The Best Alternatives To Spin Drying A Wetsuit To Dry It Quickly
Even though it’s safe to occasionally spin dry a wetsuit following certain precautions, there are usually better ways to dry your wetsuit quickly.
Spin drying doesn’t really have any particular advantages, other than being set and forget.
My preferred method is to towel dry the wetsuit as much as possible, then to hang it on a wetsuit hanger. To speed up drying even more, water that pools in the wrists and ankles can be squeezed out every 20 minutes or so.
For a good DIY drying solution is to then place a fan directed at your wetsuit. The increase airflow will cause the wetsuit to dry faster.
Doing so is just as effective (if not more effective) than spin drying and is much easier on the neoprene.
If that’s too much work, a wetsuit dryer may be a worthwhile investment. These are wetsuit hangers with fans in them (and sometimes even heating elements) that blow air through the inside of your wetsuit drying it in just a couple of hours.
The UK HangAir Hanger with Built-In Fan (at Amazon) is one of the best wetsuit dryers. It's an affordable price and works both in your home electrical outlet and through your car's 12V power.
This waterproof wetsuit hanger runs a fan that will blow air through your wetsuits and dry suits - drying them in hours not days. Stop bad odors and dry suits quickly.
This wetsuit dryer can run off mains power or the 12V power from your car for on the road drying.
For more details and even more methods, check out my favorite ways to dry a wetsuit overnight.
It’s okay to spin dry a wetsuit on occasion in a front load or agitatorless top load washing machine. Just keep in mind, doing so regularly will shorten the lifespan of your wetsuit.
To safely spin dry a wetsuit:
- Unzip all zippers and turn the wetsuit inside out.
- Flatten the wetsuit against the wall of the drum.
- Start a spin cycle and wait for it to finish.
- Hang dry on a wetsuit hanger to finish the drying process.