After reading tons of wetsuit’s reviews and recommendations, turns out people tend to go through the same wetsuit model in one-two seasons while others use the wetsuit for 5 years and longer. Many people also use second-hand wetsuits that have been used for years and still go strong. So, what are the secrets to long-lasting life of the wetsuit?
SECRETS TO WETSUIT LONGEVITY
Wetsuits need care and attention from the corrosive saltwater and unnecessary stretches.
1. SIZE. First of all, for the wetsuit to last – it has to be the right size for you! A wetsuit that’s too tight and undersized will not only limit your movement but also decrease the material life. Make sure to get the best fit following wetsuit manufacturer’s size charts. Getting a wetsuit that’s too big won’t do it’s a purposed job as well!
2. PRACTICE SAFE ENTRY/EXIT. Yes, wetsuits are flexible and durable, but care must be taken when getting in and out of the suit. Wetsuit’s weakest point is the adjustable, entry&exit area. Take your time getting in and out of the suit, never pull too hard!
3. CARE/MAINTAIN. Rinse or soak the suit after each use, dry it in the shade and store it properly using proper gear! Read more down below. Use beeswax on the zipper and soak the water in wetsuit shampoo now and then.
4. REPAIR & PREVENT.
Check for damages on the suit. Take it to the repair shop or DIY when possible!
DO’s & DONT‘s
1. Wash your wetsuit after each use
RINSE THROUGFULLY – Using a bucket/shower hose
HANG INSIDE-OUT – Turn back the right way after a while
Saltwater, surfboard wax and body fluids should be rinsed out after each session. Best practice would be using a bucket with fresh warm/cold water and soak the wetsuit for 10 minutes or more. Wash it INSIDE OUT and leave it out to dry.
- NOTE: Unwashed saltwater crystalizes which can create “wetsuit rash” and reduce the neoprene’s stretch factor.
- NOTE: When you get out of the wetsuit, it’s easy to leave the suit inside-out already, and only turn it back to the right way when it’s 50% dried up so you could grab it right away for the upcoming session.
- NOTE: If you tend to get a rash from the wetsuit caused by chaffing, irritation or dry skin, try out the ANTI-CHAFE PALM
2. Use Proper Wetsuit Hanger For Drying
HANG THE WETSUIT INSIDE OUT
USE A PROPER WETSUIT HANGER
SQUEEZE EXCESS WATER OUT
Wetsuits are like sponges that can hold a lot of water inside and make the suits weigh a lot. It’s also crucial to use a proper hanger that would divide the weight properly. After you’ve soaked/rinsed the wetsuit in freshwater (still inside out), leave the wetsuit on a hanger. Once it starts to dry up, squeeze the excess water out (mostly on arms and legs when folded properly) and turn it the right way around for the final dry-up.
NOTE: Fold the wetsuit in half, feet and arms facing downwards.
3. Find A Good Shaded Spot For Drying
FIND A GOOD AND SAFE SPOT TO DRY
After you’ve washed, rinsed and hanged the wetsuit on a proper wetsuit hanger, find a place where the wetsuit could dry up. Good ventilation helps to dry the wetsuit faster, like a backyard hanger or under the roof. Leaving the wetsuit on the sun for an extended amount of time damages the exterior.
How to speed up the wetsuit drying process? Once the wetsuit has been hanging for a while, you can simply squeeze excess water out of the suit and turn it the right way around again for the last bit.
NOTE: Even on cloudy days the UV rays still do penetrate through and damage the wetsuit.
NOTE: Be careful when drying the wetsuit inside the room. Place a bucket (preferably the same you used to wash it) under the hanger&suit. Check if there’re no power cords or loose cables on the floor!
DANGER: Once I got back late in the evening surfing a storm-swell and hang the suit in a garage. Little did I know there was a splitter on the floor nearby and after a while, the wetsuit had been dripping down on a ladder and eventually water droplets reaching the splitter! Thank god I went to check it before falling asleep after an exhausting session!
4. Shampoo The Suit After A While
SHAMPOO THE WETSUIT
Rinsing the suit after each uses it the least you can do to care for the suit. Wetsuit shampoos on the other hand help to break off the bacteria and wax that’s inside the suit. Fill up a bucket with warm water and add the correct amount of shampoo. Hand wash the suit and let it dry. After it’s been soaked, rinse the wetsuit if advised.
Check for damages. If you’ve got some extra time on your hands and would like to prevent any major damages, examine the whole suit and see if you can spot any loose stitchings or cracks. No need to send the wetsuit back right away and hope for the warranty to send you a new one! Wetsuits can be repaired at home or surf stores. Glued and blindstitches
Lubricate the zip. Using any kind of wax on plastic zippers, or PTFE oils drops on metal zippers… Avoid petrol-based oils like WD-40
How to remove stains from wetsuit? First, rinse the wetsuit and leave it wet/moist. Cover the stained area with a tea towel and go over with a hot-iron that’s on low-heat setting(Nylon). The wax should stay at the tea towel, if not – repeat the process.
Wetsuit Shampoos and Conditioners
Get from WetsuitWarehouse.com
What NOT TO DO with a wetsuit
- Avoid hot water! Always use warm/cold water to rinse off your wetsuit. Hot water damages seals, stitchings and the air-bubble neoprene technology. Wetsuits are meant to be used in water temperatures up to 25’C / 77’F and below, not above!
- Avoid direct sunlight. Somewhat invertible, but when using the wetsuit in the water and under the sun, the water cools down the exterior of the suit. Outside of use, when drying or storing, keep the wetsuit out of direct sunlight and UV rays harm which is harmful to the wetsuit. It’s ok to leave the suit out until it’s completely wet, but as soon as it’s starting to dry up, take it out of the sun.
NOTE: Late-evening sun is not that harmful, although it’s easy to leave the suit out there over the night and forget about the intense morning sun.
- Avoid excessive stretching. Wetsuits are flexible and comfortable that form around your body after some time in the water. You’ll feel restricted right away when it’s getting too tight, especially if you try to walk down the beach with a chest-zip/zipless wetsuit halfway on your body.
The right way to get into wetsuit: Slowly work your way up without pulling and stretching!
- Never wash the wetsuit in a washing machine. Even using cold water and no tumble dry setting. I mean, is it that hard to pour water in a bucket, let it soak and hand wash the suit? A wetsuit that’s coming out of the washing machine without a tumble-dry is as wet as it is on the bucket. Tumble drying the wetsuit gives a fair amount of beating on the wetsuit, which is not recommended at all!
- Never use the dryer. Needless to say what excessive dry heat does to the wetsuit. It might sound like a good idea when you want to surf multiple times a day, but it’s NOT worth it!
- Avoid bleaches and other chemicals. Use a proper shampoo that’s meant for neoprene washing. Wetsuit Shampoo is available at any decent wetsuit outlet or online.
- Avoid peeing in the suit, or not? Urine that’s soaked in the wetsuit not only stinks horribly but also damages the neoprene. Practice emptying your bladder before going in for a session, but if you have to do it, it’s not big of a deal. Although, Urine, that’s soaked on your skin for a while in a trapped environment can lead to some nasty infections! Some wetsuits won’t let any water in an out of the suit which can be rather uncomfortable as well. Yak!
NOTE: Peeing in the wetsuit can actually warm up the suit in colder waters, but again – it stinks afterward. Also, getting out of a quick piss loses some quality time on the session.
- When using jewelry. Try to avoid the wetsuit getting stuck on the jewelry which could end up tearing the seals or neoprene.
You can either take your damaged wetsuit down to the local wetsuit dealer and pay an authorized staff to fix the suit for you or do it yourself and why not learn a new trade! Down here you’ll find ways to fix your wetsuit.
Get from WetsuitWareHouse.com
It’s got the tools you need to make the permanent repair at home or on the road.
- 3 patches
- Waterproofing instructions
2. Neoprene Silicone Spray
More of a precaution item to prevent the wetsuit from drying or, or it can be simply used on old or dry wetsuits.
- 7 oz Silicone Lubricant Spray
3. Tenacious Tape
Perfect to fix the holes, rips or simply to reinforce high-stress points. Just need to cut the patch to fit and iron it on for permanent fixture.
- A large chunk of patch
4. O’Neill Wetsuit Cement
Perfect to fix holes and rips in neoprene. Works well on smooth skin coatings, sets up quickly! Simply add cement on both sides of the damage and let it cure for 5 mins. Repeat and wait for 10 mins, squeeze it together. Make sure you do that with opened windows or outdoors, this is some strong stuff!
- 4 oz can
- Brush in the cap
5. Zipper Stick
A perfect alternative to bees/surfboard wax. Great lubricant for water and air-tight zippers. Protects against corrosion! Paraffin and silicone-free product!
- 5 oz lubricant
As you can see, all the wetsuit repairing products and procedures are easily down at home by yourself!
Wetsuits don’t like to stay in one position for an intended wetsuit hanger both for storage and drying up. HangPro SlideHanger is one of the best ways to store your wetsuit safely. If possible, lay the wetsuit flat at a spot once it’s completely dry.
- AVOID: Hanging a wet wetsuit on a thin and narrow hanger
- AVOID: Storing wetsuit in a plastic bag – moisture that’s still in hidden in the suit won’t be the best way to
How To Pack The Wetsuit For Travels?
Whether you travel with a surfboard or just the wetsuit alone, there are a few things to consider:
WITH SURFBOARD BAG
When going on a surf trip with a surfboard, it’s easy to chuck the wetsuit in the travel bag, which gives the board extra padding as well. When doing so, make sure the zipper isn’t facing the board to avoid nasty dings and scratches!
WITH A DRY BAG
When you want to travel with a wetsuit only, a simple waterproof wetsuit dry bag is a convenient choice.
FOLDING THE WETSUIT
Wetsuit Storage Bags
1. FCS Dry Bag – Essential simple bag. Check out for sizes: Size S for shorties, tops, Size L for springers/steamers.
2. Wetsuit Change Mat/Wet Bag – Essential 2 in 1 accessory for both changing and storing the wetsuit!
3. Quiksilver 35L Backpack – Great wetsuit backpack with a drainage plug! Waterproof inside out.
Kudos if you’ve reached down here! Turns out the wetsuit is sort of like a pet that needs constant care, but by doing as recommended we are doing ourselves a favor. Think how much a wetsuit has helped us to enjoy those activities and how little we have to give back to it.
I created Nulltuul to share my experience, research and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels - I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.