Gear Garage: Five Tips For Proper Wetsuit Care

Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

Extend the Life of Your Wetsuit With These Tips For Proper Care

Wetsuits are a blessing and a curse.

They allow you to paddle in all types of weather and conditions, but they're often wet and stinky, not to mention they cost an arm and a leg. While wetsuits present their challenges, they're typically also a standup paddler’s biggest investment aside from the board and should be treated as such.

That means you shouldn't just ball them up in your trunk until your next session, but instead rinse and store them with care. We've rounded up some crucial tips on how to properly care for and store your suitfor the beginner and experienced paddler alike.

Freshwater rinse. Do a freshwater rinse after every session. Even if you plan to paddle back out in a few hours, thoroughly rinse your suit inside and out. If you're local spot doesn't have a shower or you're short on time, try sticking a jug of warm water in your car to rinse yourself and your suit after your next paddle. Just be sure to rinse the inside once you get home.

Properly store your suit. While cramped quarters or a vagabond lifestyle may present challenges in this area, it is important to take time to properly store your suit. In order to prolong the life of your suit, store out of direct sunlight, ideally in the garage or shower. Using a plastic hanger, pull your suit through and hang it doubled-up, inside-out (avoid hanging your suit by the shoulders as doing so will stretch it out). Each day, turn your suit inside-out to ensure that it dries evenly.

Shampoo occasionally. Even if you're ultra-committed to rinsing your suit, you're bound to miss a few spots. Salt is extremely corrosive and letting it sit is a surefire way to destroy your suit. To avoid destruction, fill a bucket with cool water, add the wetsuit cleaner of your choice (Simple Green works well for us), and rub the soap into the suit. To remove odors, add a small bit of Mirazyme or Listerene to the mix. After thoroughly cleansing your suit—you guessed it—rinse with fresh water.

Slow down. Taking off a wet, sandy suit can be a pain in the rear. Instead of ripping off your suit, slow down, apply pressure evenly, and carefully peel back your suit. Peel off your suit instead of pulling at the cuffs, doing so will help prevent tearing of the seams at the wrists and ankles. Try using a changing mat or towel to avoid grinding your suit into the sand or pavement.

Patch it up. Despite your best efforts, wear and tear will occur with time. Take your suit to your local surf shop for repairs or do it yourself if you feel comfortable. Invest in some wetsuit cement, glue-on seam tape, floss and a needle for an at home repair. If your suit is under warranty, take it in and get it fixed up!

More gear maintenance tips.