Whether your a diver, surfer, swimmer, kayaker or enjoy other water sports chances are you have wetsuits that you'll use for a season and then not use for half of the year (or more).
I've got full body wetsuits I only use for 5-6 months of the year and short spring suits I only use in the summer months. The rest of the year I need to store these wetsuits.
Storing your wetsuit properly will ensure it doesn't deteriorate over time and will also ensure it doesn't stretch, get creases or (god forbid) grow some funky mold.
If you want to store a wetsuit long term, there are few different ways to store it safely and effectively.
IMPORTANT: Ensure Wetsuit Is Bone Dry Inside and Out Before Storing
Before storing your wetsuit for an extended period, it's VITAL you make sure that it's dry completely. This means drying both the outside and inside so there is no moisture left.
First you'll want to make sure you wash your wetsuit properly – rinsing it inside and out to remove any salt water or dirt from the suit. You can use a wetsuit cleaner or a wetsuit cleaner alternative to really give it a good wash if you're storing it for a long time.
If you store the wetsuit when it's not dry, it can start to smell bad and develop mold or mildew which can permanently damaging the material. While you can use wetsuit shampoos and cleaners to clean away mold if you've got months of inbuilt mold sometimes it's impossible to get rid of.
You can use one of these wetsuit drying methods to completely dry your wetsuit – or just hang it up long enough that it's bone dry before you attempt to put it away.
This article will discuss how to store a wetsuit long term and the pros and cons of each method.
1. Hang the Wetsuit Folded Around the Waist
One of the most effective ways to store your wetsuit long term is to hang it with a hanger around the waist.
This method folds the wetsuit in half over the waistline. Most coat hangers have a centerpiece for hanging pants and you can use this section for your wetsuit.
It is best to use a thick, plastic hanger with a horizontal rod. You want to avoid using the cheap metal wire hangers as this will dig into your wetsuit and can cause your wetsuit to stretch in some areas.
You should use a pants hanger or a strong, wide hanger so that the weight of the wetsuit does not overwhelm the hanger.
If you're storing your wetsuit for an extremely long time (potentially years) then get a pool noodle (these usually only cost $1-$5 and cut it and place it over the hanger before you put your wetsuit on.
This will spread the weight of your wetsuit over a larger area and will stop the wetsuit from creasing at all.
Pros of Hanging the Wetsuit Folded Around the Waist
- It maintains the wetsuit’s shape and prevents it from overstretching around the arms and shoulders.
- It prevents the appearance of creases and wrinkles on the wetsuit, thus maintaining its appearance.
- This method does not add tension to the seams; it prevents the seams from bursting and damaging the suit.
Cons of Hanging the Wetsuit Folded Around the Waist
- If you don't use a strong hanger, the weight of the wetsuit could overwhelm the hanger. The wetsuit could stretch, thus interfering with its shape.
- A thin hanger can also crease the wetsuit and cause wrinkles that could permanently change its appearance.
2. Store Your Wetsuit Lying Down Flat
Storing your wetsuit flat is arguably the best way to store it as you're not going to put any pressure on any of the seams and you're not going to get any creases from the wetsuit.
If you've got the space to do this then this is great, however not many people do.
If you lay your wetsuit flat you'll want to make sure you don't put anything heavy on top of it and you'll want to make sure it's in a cool dry place and away from places where it'll collect a lot of dust (which can become sticky and hard to get off). To avoid this you can put your wetsuit in something like a suit cover so it's protected.
You should store the wetsuit lying flat the right way around, not inside out. That way if any deterioration does happen it'll happen to the stronger exterior and not the part of the wetsuit that touches your skin
To store your wetsuit this way, use the following steps:
- Lay the suit on a flat surface
- Smooth the suit out, removing all of the wrinkles.
- Cross the sleeves diagonally across the suit’s back.
- If possible, lay a piece of cardboard on the backside of the wetsuit.
- Lift the wetsuit carefully and store it lying flat with nothing on top of it.
Pros of Storing Wetsuit Lying Down Flat
- The wetsuit does not stretch at all and thus retains its shape and quality.
- The wetsuit does not crease or get wrinkles, thus retaining its original appearance.
Cons of Storing Wetsuit Lying Down Flat
- The wetsuit takes up more storage space when you store it this way.
- If you put heavy things on top of it then it can create creases
- The large exposed area has a tendency to collect dust.
3. Hang the Wetsuit Vertically Using a Thick Hanger
Another way of storing a wetsuit long term is by hanging it vertically using a thick hanger.
When using this method, you hang the wetsuit just like an ordinary suit or coat.
It is essential to hang the wetsuit using a large, thick coat hanger with rounded shoulders to support the weight of the suit.
You don't want to use thin metal or plastic hanger as this will put too much pressure and weight on the shoulders of the wetsuit and over time this can stretch and ruin your wetsuit.
Check out my list of the best wetsuit hangers on the market as all of these are great options for drying your wetsuit as well as long term storage.
My personal favorite is the Ho Stevie! Wetsuit Hanger as it's cheap and affordable but also it's lightweight and folds down making it a great travel option for your next surf trip.
Pros of Hanging Wetsuit Vertically Using a Wide Hanger
- Hanging a wetsuit for an extended period vertically using a solid and wide hanger saves on storage space.
- This method gives the wetsuit enough space to breathe and helps it remain fresh until you need it.
- The method also protects the wetsuit from punctures and tears as there is not much disturbance.
- The wetsuit does not crease or wrinkle, thus maintaining its original appearance.
Cons of Hanging Wetsuit Long Term Vertically Using a Thick Hanger
- The hanger could stretch the wetsuit around the shoulders and interfere with the suit’s shape.
- If the hanger is not thick enough, it could damage the wetsuit's foam in the long run.
4. Store the Wetsuit in a Bag or Plastic Tub Away From Direct Sunlight
Assuming your wetsuit is bone dry when you go to store it a great way to protect your suit and extend i's lifespan is to restrict its exposure to the outside air.
You can do this by placing your wetsuit in a plastic bag and tying it up or by placing your wetsuit in a plastic storage box with a lid.
If you really want to protect your suit for long term storage then a vacuum bag is an even better option as it'll remove most of the outside air keeping your suit in pristine condition. This is arguably one of the best wetsuit storage ideas if you want to store you wetsuit for an extremely long period of time between uses.
Just make sure you fold the wetsuit properly before putting it in the bag and there isn't too much pressure on the suit that can lead to creases forming.
It is best to store your wetsuit in a cool and dry place, especially if the suit will be stored for an extended period.
You should avoid storing your wetsuit long term in a damp or sunny area – even if it's in a bag or box.
Instead, keep it in a controlled environment. Some of the cool and dry places where you can store your wetsuit long term include the garage, wardrobe, or shed.
Pros of Storing a Wetsuit in a Controlled Environment
- Storing a wetsuit in a cool and dry place protects it from mold, thus maintaining its freshness.
- A cool place away from sunlight also protects the fabric of the wetsuit from fading.
- A bag or box protects the wetsuit from outside air which can cause it to deteriorate faster
Cons of Storing a Wetsuit in a Controlled Environment
- If the area is too cool and lacks proper ventilation, mildew may form and affect the wetsuit during the extended storage.
- If using a vacuum bag too much pressure on the suit can lead to creases.
- If you don't dry the suit well enough before storing it then mildew or mold may grow in your suit.
5. Fold The Wetsuit Gently And Store In Your Cupboard
In the past I had a tendency to just throw my wetsuit in my cupboard in a big lump. But this obviously isn't a great way to store it and led to my wetsuit being completely creased when it came time to use it.
Recently I learned there is a correct way to fold your wetsuit that minimizes creases. By doing this you can then store your wetsuit folded up in your cupboard just like you would any other type of clothing.
If you're just storing your wetsuit for the winter then having it folded for a short period of time shouldn't lead to any significant creases, but if you're storing it for over 6-12 months then you will likely have some creasing that occurs.
Pros of Folding Your Wetsuit
- If folded properly creases are minimized
- Saves space and allows you to store it in your closet with other clothes
- Can be folded and put in a bag or box to protect it from outside elements
Cons of Folding Your Wetsuit
- Long term folded storage can lead to creases
- You need to fold your wetsuit the correct way
6. Roll Up Your Wetsuit
If you have limited space and you want to store your wetsuit so it doesn't get damaged then rolling up your wetsuit instead of folding it can be a good option.
You'll still want to start the process the same as if you were folding your wetsuit by tucking in the arms of the suit. However, instead of folding your wetsuit in half you can then roll it up.
I usually roll my suit from the neck down as it's a bit too difficult to start with the legs. But how you do it is completely up to you. This saves space and minimizes the chances of creases when compared to folding your suit.
Also if you are extremely limited on space and need to store your wetsuit in the smallest space possible rolling it up can be a good idea.
Pros of Hanging the Wetsuit Folded Around the Waist
- Rolling your wetsuit can minimize creases compare to folded
- Allows you to store your wetsuit in the smallest possible spaces
Cons of Hanging the Wetsuit Folded Around the Waist
- Rolling can still lead to creases in your wetsuit over time.
Caring for your wetsuit includes cleaning and drying it well and storing it correctly. If you store your wetsuit appropriately long term, it will retain its quality and serve you for many years.
Store the wetsuit in a controlled environment, away from moisture and direct sunlight.
If you choose to hang your wetsuit, use strong hangers to prevent the wetsuit from stretching.
It's best not to store the wetsuit inside-out to prevent the material from creasing over time.