surf wetsuit safety guide

What not to do with your surf wetsuit?

A surf wetsuit is a technical garment that needs constant care to maintain its awesome features. Flexibility, warmth, durability – all the good stuff is combined into a single suit, and there’s much more going on inside of it. As the surf suit is a mixture of a thick and low-flexibility dive suit, and a much lighter, slick triathlon swimsuit, it has the best of both worlds.

In this review, we’ll overlook some of the basic ways to keep your wetsuit in good shape.

 

 

1. Don’t leave it out on the sun


What comes as a surprise to many is that wetsuits should be dried out away from direct sunlight. UV rays damage your wetsuit if left out in the sun for hours on end.
Instead – Leave it in a cool and shaded spot, ideally with some breeze blowing through.

wetsuit hanged outside
A cool & shaded spot is best to dry out your wetsuit.

 

 

2. Use proper technique to hang a wetsuit


Avoid thin and standard clothes hangers to hang the wetsuit from its shoulders. If you do that, the wet and heavy suit will stretch out of its shape and can damage the garment as well.

Instead – When using a clothes hanger, fold it in two. You can also use a wetsuit-specific hanger with broader shoulder pads, made by TheHangPro.

wetsuit hanged on a door
LEFT – Avoid standard clothes hanger RIGHT – Folded in three (on the right) is a great way to store away the suit long-term.

Which way to dry out the surf wetsuit?

When you climb off your wetsuit after surfing, it stays inside out. Dry it out like that for the first part, and then flip it over to its normal side for the last part. This way you’ll have a warm suit from the inside and there’s no extra need for turning.

 

 

3. Don’t stretch out the chest-zip wetsuit entry


Avoid wearing a chest-zip wetsuit halfway down your body. Although the chest area is the stretchiest panel of this type of wetsuit, you are doing more than good when you leave it “maxed out” for unlimited time.

Instead – when “climbing” in and out of your wetsuit, make sure to do it somewhat ergonomically and fast. If you are not a slinky surfer just yet but more on the rigid side, you can also look for a back-zip wetsuit.

 

 

4. Clean your wetsuit regularly


Now to a more personal level – how often do you clean your wetsuit?

Yes, there’s some water entering the suit each session, but keep in mind that it’s mixed up with all the sweat, salt, dead skin, and many more bacteria. There’s no way for this mess to exit the suit on its own.

To clean your wetsuit:

1. Turn your wetsuit inside-out.
2. Fill bath or bucket with clean water, add a lid full of wetsuit shampoo.
3. Let it soak for an hour or two.
4. Feel free to squeeze and move the wetsuit in the water to get rid of any invisible residue.
5. Give it a last squeeze while its in the water.
6. Pour out or drain the old water.
7. Fill it with clean water.
8. Let it sit for another 20-30mins.
9. Squeeze.
10. Leave it out to dry.

 

 

5. Avoid hot water


When washing your wetsuit, avoid any contact with hot water. Hot water can reduce wetsuits’ flexibility and their overall quality.

Instead – Use cold or lukewarm water.

 

 

6. Avoid sharp objects in your wetsuit


The chest-zip wetsuit pouch is a great spot to store your keys in a waterproof bag. Try folding it into something that wouldn’t puncture the wetsuit. If you own an electrical key fob, you obviously need a waterproof bag.

key in wetsuit
Keys wrapped in a re-used cereal plastic bag to prevent keys puncturing the wetsuit.

 

 

7. Don’t pee in your wetsuit


There are two types of surfers and two levels of urgency. Ones that pee inside their wetsuit, and others who don’t. Yes, it can be helpful when you’re ‘stuck’ in cold water for hours, but to be honest, we’d much rather recommend investing in a warmer suit.

When you have to do it – just go for it, but you are better off keeping it clean and piss-free. If you are a ‘regular wetsuit wetter’ there’s a product just for you made by a brand called Piss off.

wetsuit postcard

 

 

8. Don’t be so yeasty


A surf wetsuit is basically technical equipment that should be used accordingly, not for hanging around town. When you don’t want to appear on @KookOfTheDay‘s wall of fame, use the wetsuit for surfing only.

 

 

9. Dive in the water to prevent your wetsuit from getting sunburn


Sometimes the waves can disappear mid-session. Nada, zero, null – they’re just gone, and you are just hanging in there, sitting in the water, halfway dried up – you don’t want to paddle for small and sketchy waves either. Now add direct UV penetration and you are 0.0X% more likely to shorten the lifespan of your wetsuit. That ain’t much of a recommendation, but theoretically, you are doing more good than harm by cooling off your wetsuit. It’s just the dip.

 

 

10. Practice right folding techniques


When tossing away your wetsuit for months or packing it in for travels – make sure to fold it in neatly. The rubber does pull in overtime which makes the wetsuit tighter, and some wrinkles can appear on the suit as well. Don’t be scared though, it will disappear after 1-2 sessions.

folded wetsuit

 

 

11. Avoid any direct hits to the wetsuit


Most neoprene surf wetsuits are filled with tiny gas bubbles. These small pouches can burst open when getting in contact with direct stress. Yes, there isn’t much you can do about it, but at last, now you know. Once your wetsuit should get punched with something sharp – it will slowly lose its qualities.

 

 

12. Avoid placing the wetsuit on a heater


A wetsuit has to dry out itself, without forced heating. Hang the wetsuit at least a few feet away from the heater, and avoid hot air directed towards the suit.

 

 

The SUM


Expensive wetsuits by boutique brands get pricier since they are more durable, flexible, lighter, and dry faster as well. It is good to know all the basic recommendations above so that your next surf wetsuit could last outlast your expectations. Its possible!

 

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About the author

Ermo J

I created Nulltuul to share my experience, knowledge, 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.

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