If you want to keep your wetsuit smelling great and lasting a long time then it's really important that you wash your wetsuit properly after each use, or at the very least every now and then.
It's not difficult to give your wetsuit a good wash but a lot of swimmers, divers and surfers neglect this step and either wash their wetsuit incorrectly or not at all.
The good news is that as long as you know how to properly care for your wetsuit, chances are you’ll be able to get your money’s worth for years on end. Wetsuit's are made from neoprene and generally speaking wetsuits can't be washed in the washing machine and wetsuits shouldn't be put in the dryer.
They need a gentler approach with the right amount of rinsing, wetsuit wash and the proper drying.
In this article, I’ll dive into each of the steps to was your wetsuit properly. This will help you better understand the best approach you can take when washing your wetsuit.
Additionally, I’ll take you through some of my top wetsuit shampoo recommendations, along with some general cleaning guidelines you’ll want to follow throughout the process.
Here’s how to wash a wetsuit the right way:
1. Prepare the Cleaning Area and Supplies
After a good surf session honestly the last thing I can be bothered doing is washing my wetsuit.
This is why it's important to make life easy for yourself and have all your supplies ready so cleaning your wetsuit is easy.
For me this involves a bucket (you can also use your bathtub), a wetsuit cleaner or shampoo and then a good wetsuit hanger so I can dry my wetsuit properly.
You'll want to fill up your bucket or bath with cold or lukewarm water to wash your wetsuit. Warm water is generally considered ok but you don't want to wash your wetsuit in hot water as this can cause the wetsuit to shrink by becoming stiff.
With this step, the cleaning area is fully prepared, and you’re ready to start the washing process.
2. Rinse Your Wetsuit Outside and In
Before submerging your wetsuit into the prepared solution, you’ll want to rinse it both inside and out to get rid of any remaining salt water, sand and other debris.
Run the garment under running cold water, paying special attention to the zippers and other metal components that might be prone to corrosion.
I personally live in an apartment so I do this washing in the shower. I often wear my wetsuit into the shower and use lukewarm water to wash the exterior and then I take the wetsuit off (turning it inside out in the process) and rinsing the inside of the wetsuit too.
By removing excess salt and chlorine from the start, you won’t only make the cleaning process much easier, but you’ll also preserve the wetsuit much better.
Keep in mind that it’s crucial to rinse out your suit right after you use it, if you leave it too long then the salt can begin to deteriorate your wetsuit faster than it otherwise would.
3. Throw Your Wetsuit In The Bucket And Hand Wash – Then Leave To Soak
Now that you’ve rinsed out all salt water and debris, it’s time to throw your wetsuit in your bucket or bath and give it a good wash.
Turn your wetsuit inside out and submerge, rubbing the material together as best as you can, focusing on areas that might need a more thorough cleaning.
When you think you’ve done a good enough job at getting out stains and odors, you can leave the wetsuit to soak for 10-15 minutes before removing it from the container.
Throughout this process, make sure that all the zippers are open; otherwise, you might have a harder time accessing some hard-to-reach areas.
4. Rinse The Wetsuit Again
With some wetsuit cleaners this step is optional but generally speaking you'll want to give the wetsuit a quick final rinse to get rid of all the detergent that is on the wetsuit before you hang it up to dry.
4. Let the Wetsuit Dry Naturally
After you've washed your wetsuit and rinsed it it's time to hang it out to dry.
Make sure to keep it inside out, as ultimately, that’s how you want to dry it. Dry your wetsuit is a shady space with good airflow. Direct sunlight may cause the exterior neoprene material to lose flexibility and strength.
For me I usually hang my wetsuit in my bathroom over my bath. It's out of direct sunlight, gets decent airflow and the wetsuit can drip into the bath so it doesn't make much mess.
You can also invest in a good wetsuit hanger to dry your wetsuit faster. A good wetsuit hanger should have a wide shoulder to both open up the wetsuit for better airflow but also reduce the weight on the shoulders and avoid the wetsuit from stretching under its own weight, especially when completely wet with water.
If you need to dry your wetsuit overnight or within a few hours then a good wetsuit dryer can be a worthy investment.
Wetsuit dryers use fans and sometimes mild heat to blow air inside your wetsuit helping it to dry ultra faster.
If you don't want to invest in a wetsuit dryer then check out some of my tips on how to dry wetsuit boots fast or how to dry wetsuit gloves fast. Some of the same techniques can be applied to full body wetsuits.
Best Wetsuit Shampoos
Even though a simple freshwater rinse might suffice when it comes to day-to-day cleanings, with frequent use, it’s necessary to give your wetsuit a shampoo-based wash as well.
When doing so, opting for a mild, high-quality wetsuit shampoo will deliver the best results. Here are some of the best wetsuit shampoos – you can also check out my list of the 11 best wetsuit cleaners here:
Gear Aid Revivex Wetsuit & Drysuit Shampoo
This Gear Aid product can significantly extend your garment’s life by keeping its material as strong and flexible as ever.
The shampoo prevents premature oxidation, as it dissolves any organic residue collected on your wetsuit. Its formula is fairly concentrated, meaning that a little bit of product goes a long way.
Just Add Water Jaws Slosh Wetsuit Shampoo
Just Add Water has quickly become a favorite among divers and surfers due to its mild yet potent formula.
The shampoo’s ingredient list is naturally green and doesn’t include any harsh chemicals.
Additionally, this option works on all types of water sportswear, meaning you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
West Path Wetsuit Cleaner & Conditioner
This US brand offers a 2-in-1 product that simultaneously cleans and conditions your neoprene.
The shampoo is biodegradable, and its ingredient list is 100% natural.
However, due to its mild nature, you’ll have to submerge your garment for at least 30 minutes on this solution before taking it out to dry.
Can You Put a Wetsuit in a Washing Machine?
You shouldn't put a wetsuit in a washing machine. The equipment’s strength and temperature can often be detrimental to materials such as neoprene. The washing machine can also damage the wetsuit during its spin cycle if the wetsuit gets caught on the center pole.
For similar reasons, you can’t put a wetsuit in a dryer either. The only way to properly clean a wetsuit is to hand wash it and leave it to hang dry.
Can You Use Detergent on a Wetsuit?
You can use detergent on a wetsuit as long as it’s specifically designed for said purpose or mild enough not to damage the neoprene. If you have a stronger detergent on hand, try diluting it first with water before adding it to the cleaning solution you’ll be using.