You’ve just spent a load of money on a new wetsuit and quite rightly you’ve gone on the internet and are now searching ‘how do I wash a wetsuit?’. Good for you for wanting to look after your new gear!
Wetsuits just don’t last as long as they used to. Part with decent money and you’ll get the most comfortable, softest suit ever, but the payoff is they are pretty delicate, so treat your suit with care and love.
If you’re not this person, then you’ve probably searched how to wash a wetsuit because it stinks! You’ve let it get so bad that it’s only now you’re doing something about it. Well fair play, whilst you can’t make the wetsuit smell as good as new, there are some things you should try to cut the funk.
Table of Contents
7 steps to washing a wetsuit
Here are the basic steps to wash a wetsuit. Skip to step 5 if you can get into a shower with the wetsuit on.
- As soon as you get out your wetsuit, it’ll be inside out – leave it that way. Make sure you pull out the arms and legs so they aren’t bunched up.
- Fill a big bucket around halfway full with cold freshwater. Ideally, you want to use something called a Flexi Tub. These things are so handy. You’ll use it as a way of transporting your wetsuit back from the beach that’ll keep your car or van dry.
- Every few washes put in a tiny splash of Milton. This is my trick to try to stop the wetsuit smelling. Milton is a sterilising fluid, mostly used to clean baby utensils and kills all bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores.
- Give the wetsuit a swirl around in the freshwater. After a good dunking, leave the wetsuit in the water for 5 minutes or so.
- Hang the wetsuit inside out. There is a technique to hanging a wetsuit, which involves folding the wetsuit over the hanger. If you hang it like a coat, the super flexible neck and shoulder areas are more likely to get distorted. Try to use a thick plastic hanger, or you can buy a specialist wetsuit hanger like the c-monsta.
- Try to hang somewhere dry, out of the sun. Ideally you need to keep the wetsuit in this portion until it’s dry. Try to keep the wetsuit off the ground.
- Once the suit feels dry, turn the right way round and rehang. Even if the outside is still a little wet, at least the inside is now dry
How often should you wash a wetsuit?
You need to wash your wetsuit every time you use it.
Ideally, as soon as possible. I know it’s hard and the last thing you want to do after a session when you’re cold and tired, but it’s the only way to stop your wetsuit from stinking the next time you use it.
How not to wash a wetsuit
There are some things you should definitely not do when trying to wash and clean a wetsuit. Most of these involve exposing the wetsuit to too much heat. I’ve never done it, but I can imagine the wetsuit glue melts and neoprene distorts when it reaches high temperatures.
Along with heat, UV will also damage a wetsuit, as it does with most things. So try to not keep the wetsuit hanging on the washing line all week until the next surf, it’ll go crispy and brittle pretty quick!
- Don’t put it in the washing machine or tumble drier
- Don’t use boiling water
- Don’t leave to dry in direct sunlight for days
- Don’t use bleach or washing powder
- Don’t try to iron it
How do you clean a stinky wetsuit?
Even if you wash your wetsuit after every use, it’ll eventually start to smell. So fear not and blame it on the neoprene.
As I said above, I use Milton every so often to try to freshen up the wetsuit. I learnt this from working at a windsurfing school when we had to clean 100’s of used wetsuits daily. Whilst Milton kills the bacteria, it’s not a super fresh smell, so I also learnt you can put a splash of mouthwash into the water.
Now you have Milton killing the bacteria, and the mouthwash leaving a real nice minty fresh smell. As Milton is made for baby utensils and you know where mouthwash goes, you’d think it won’t be harmful to wetsuit material. This is my homemade version of how to clean a stinky wetsuit.
The other option is to buy a wetsuit cleaner and conditioner like Coco Loco or Rip Curl’s Piss Off. These are really simple to use and will certainly help freshen up your wetsuit, they are just a little more expensive.
What you need to buy to clean a wetsuit
Flexi Tub – Check price on Amazon
Homemade wetsuit cleaning
Milton – Check price on Amazon
Readymade wetsuit cleaning
About the author
Watersports Pro is managed by Ollie, who has been in the industry since 2007. A paddleboard and advanced windsurfing instructor, Ollie has travelled the world teaching these sports.
Now based on the South Coast of England, he shares his experience and knowledge on watersportspro.co.uk.