A wetsuit is a vital piece of equipment for any water sport in North America and further. It’s expensive, complicated to shop for (although we have a guide for that) and taking care of it can become an art. Or a healthy obsession. Here are our best tips to follow if you want to use it to its full potential for many years.
Salty water leaves salt in your wetsuit while drying. Therefore, it’s important to wash and rinse it with cold water after each surf session in the sea. We recommend using soap that is made for the task, such as Rip Curl’s famous Piss Off . If you’re really far from one of these, rinsing it with water is already a good step to take. When surfing in the river or in a lake, there’s no salt so washing it is not as important as it is in the sea, but it will help you to keep it for longer, that’s for sure.
A wetsuit is to be hand washed at all times. Don’t put it in the washing machine.
While coming back from a surf session, drying your wetsuit should be a priority after you’ve washed it. You’ll need to make it dry in a shadow area, hanging by the waist part. For the most perfect drying, it’s recommended to flip it inside out once one side is dry. We usually allow about ten hours for each side.
Don’t put your wetsuit in the dryer (never!). Actually, don’t put it next to any heating source as it will damage it in the long run. You should avoid hanging it by the shoulders with a coat hanger as the shoulder part won’t be able to support the weight of your wet wetsuit, it will stretch in an odd way.
Don’t expect your wetsuit to dry if you leave it your car’s trunk. Find a nice spot where it can relax peacefully and you’ll keep that fresh neoprene smell – not the smell of moisture.
Hanging your wetsuit folded in half is by far the best option and the one that won’t cause any bad folds. A wetsuit well stored have to be completely dry and be folded the least amount of times, far from any heating source.
Some wetsuits have high performance velcro material, usually close to the neck area. Make sure that the “grip” part of the velcro doesn’t stick to the neoprene, which could damage both the velcro and the neoprene around it.
Even though you take good care of it, small holes can happen after a bad encounter with a rock or a branch. That’s why there’s some simple solutions that exist and allow to repair these small holes that would otherwise let some water flow through.
Easiest option is definitely using a wetsuit cement, which will stand for “liquid neoprene”. You’ll need to apply the magic mixture on both sides and let dry, repeat for another safety layer and you’re good to go. For larger openings, it’s a good idea to sew the pieces together before sealing with the cement.
After all, make sure to take good care of what keeps you warm while you’re out there! Even if you’re hungry, exhausted and cold after 2h00 in cold water, it’s always rewarding to take care of your wetsuit before thinking about make a sandwich. A well washed wetsuit, well dried, and decently stored will last way longer than a wetsuit which doesn’t get any attention, guaranteed.