Whether you are a seasoned surfer or just starting out, one thing is for certain – the importance of taking care of your wetsuit cannot be overlooked. Your wetsuit is not only an investment but also an essential piece of gear that keeps you warm and protected while you chase the perfect wave. To ensure your wetsuit lasts for years and continues to perform at its best, proper cleaning and maintenance are crucial. In this article, we will guide you on how to clean and maintain your wetsuit, ensuring it stays in top condition season after season.
1. Why Clean Your Wetsuit Regularly?
Before we dive into the cleaning process, let’s understand why regular cleaning is necessary for your wetsuit. After each surf session, your wetsuit accumulates salt, sand, sweat, and bacteria, affecting its performance, durability, and overall lifespan. By cleaning your wetsuit regularly, you remove these contaminants, preventing odor buildup, material degradation, and potential skin irritations. It’s a small effort that goes a long way in preserving your wetsuit and keeping it hygienic.
2. Gathering the Supplies
Before you start cleaning, gather the necessary supplies for the task. You will need a large container or bathtub, mild wetsuit shampoo, a soft sponge or cloth, a hanger, and room-temperature water. It is crucial to use a wetsuit shampoo specifically designed for neoprene gear, as regular detergents can damage the material.
3. The Cleaning Process
Fill the container or bathtub with enough water to submerge your wetsuit completely. Add the recommended amount of wetsuit shampoo, following the instructions on the bottle. Swirl the water gently to create a soapy mixture.
Lay your wetsuit flat in the water and agitate it lightly, ensuring all the areas are soaked. Pay particular attention to the armpits, groin, and neck regions, as these areas are prone to odor buildup.
Using a soft sponge or cloth, gently scrub the wetsuit, focusing on any stubborn stains or areas with visible dirt. Avoid aggressive scrubbing, as it can damage the neoprene.
Once you are satisfied with the cleaning, empty the soapy water and refill the container with clean water. Rinse your wetsuit thoroughly, making sure to remove all traces of shampoo residue. Repeat this rinsing process until the water runs clear.
4. Drying Your Wetsuit
After cleaning, it’s time to dry your wetsuit properly. Hang it on a wide, non-metal hanger, ideally in a shaded area away from direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause the neoprene to deteriorate faster.
Ensure the wetsuit is hung evenly, without any folds or creases, to maintain its shape. Avoid using sharp or tight clips, as they can damage the material.
Allow your wetsuit to air dry completely before storing it. This may take a few hours or even overnight, depending on the weather conditions. Never use a clothes dryer or any other heat source to speed up the drying process, as it can shrink or warp the neoprene.
5. Additional Maintenance Tips
Regular cleaning is just one aspect of wetsuit maintenance. Here are a few additional tips to keep your wetsuit in top condition:
– Avoid folding or stuffing your wetsuit forcefully, as it can lead to permanent creases and damage the material. Instead, roll it up loosely to prevent unnecessary stress on the neoprene.
– Rinse your wetsuit with freshwater after each use, even if you don’t have time for a complete cleaning session. This simple step helps remove salt and sand, minimizing the risk of odor and material degradation.
– Store your wetsuit in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Hanging it on a wide hanger with ample airflow will prevent mold or mildew growth.
– Inspect your wetsuit regularly for any signs of wear and tear. Repair small tears or holes promptly using neoprene-specific adhesive or repair kits.