A decent wetsuit is one of the best investments that a sailor, paddler, or surfer can make. Looking after your wetsuit post-training session ensures that you optimize the personal and environmental benefits of the garment by making it last a long time. Knowing how to properly clean a wetsuit to prevent that ‘wet gear smell’ is also a skill to learn: say goodbye to the stinky gear bag!
Our Vaikobi wetsuit collection uses REACH compliant neoprene in the FlexForce range and newly released steamers. Here’s how to make sure you’ll get the maximum lifespan out of your new Vaikobi wetsuit:
How to wash a neoprene wetsuit: Freshwater rinse
While it may seem obvious, rinsing your wetsuit with fresh water after finishing your training session is the trustiest maintenance method. This reduces salt's corrosive effects, which will progressively wear your product material away over time. Hand wash your wetsuit and never put it in a washer with other garments.
Generally, if you use soap at all, make sure it is gentle or pH neutral. This prevents harsh chemicals from degrading your product.
Care for wetsuit zips, seams, and knees
With frequent use and improper care, zips can seize and make it challenging to fit your wetsuit in the future. Always take extra care to flush the sand and salt out of zips to prevent jams. Similarly, when taking off your wetsuit, be gentle and take your time. Vaikobi Front Zip and Back Zip Steamers use strong YKK zips, which outlast cheaper lightweight zips.
While it’s easy to do at the end of a long day on the water, stamping on the leg of a suit to pull off a longer garment will only lead to unnecessary stress on seams, holes, or fluffy gradual wear. Remove your wetsuit slowly and without excessive force.
For surfers, stubborn wax that sticks to contact areas is a recurring problem when washing garments. To remove wax from your suit, use an old cotton tea towel and an iron on very low heat. Laying the tea towel on the neoprene provides a protective barrier for your garment while also producing the warmth necessary to coax wax out of areas like the wetsuit knees and ribcage areas. Move the iron over the area (on very low heat) to reduce any chance of accidentally damaging the neoprene.
Wetsuit drying, hanging, and storage tips
A good rule of thumb is to always dry your garment flat and in a shady area. Exposure to the sun over long periods will degrade the neoprene and leave it prone to holes. To avoid creasing the neoprene, don’t hang your wetsuit in half. Instead, use a wide coat hanger.
Also, don’t leave it half dry before storing! It will smell over time or accumulate mold. Dry it inside out and the right way out to prevent any moisture accumulating.
Finally - never put your wetsuit in the dryer! Neoprene is not designed to withstand the heat inside a dryer.
Other secret wetsuit tips from surfers, sailors, and paddlers
As sailors and surfers ourselves, team Vaikobi has a few good secrets for wetsuit care, including; always make sure you take off your wetsuit while it’s wet. Don’t let it dry on your body before removing it!
Even better, and if you can, you should take off a wetsuit in tepid water. When garments are very cold, they don’t tend to stretch as well, meaning you have to force the piece off where it fits snugly against the body. This care tip is vital in wetsuits and steamers that feature hoods, as the nature of the garment’s watertight fit is that it must stretch over the head upon exit and entry.
Hopping in a lukewarm shower and then pulling off the garment helps it to slip off more easily without too much pulling against seams. Very hot water is a no-go. While neoprene is heat resistant, keeping the garment away from excessively hot temperatures (no steam!) is best to avoid unnecessary stress on the material.
Heard an odd tip to keep your gear in check? Let us know at Vaikobi.