How To Wash a Wetsuit

How To Wash a Wetsuit

An essential item for any surfer, a wetsuit keeps you comfortable and protects you from sea, salt, and sun. But while neoprene wetsuits defend against elements, they take on just as much. Cleaning neoprene doesn’t have to be a chore – with proper care and routine maintenance, you’ll extend the lifespan of your wetsuit so that it's ready to catch waves whenever you are.

Read on for the best tools and tips to wash your wetsuit and keep it in top condition.

What You’ll Need

  • Large bucket or tub
  • Wetsuit cleaner (store-bought or homemade)
  • Fresh water
  • Hanger

Wetsuit Cleaner vs. Homemade Wetsuit Cleaner

how to clean wetsuit

It’s important to rinse and completely dry your wetsuit after every wear, but when it comes time for a deeper clean, wetsuit cleaner is the go-to. Wetsuit soap or shampoo is available online and at most surf shops – most manufacturers recommend using it monthly to effectively rid the neoprene of odors and stains and maintain its shape and structure. Be sure to read the product directions to effectively care for your wetsuit.

If you’re up for a DIY project, you can make your own homemade wetsuit cleaner with ingredients you likely already have. Homemade wetsuit cleaners are easy, affordable, and as effective as store-bought versions.

To clean a wetsuit with a homemade cleaner, fill a tub or large bucket with fresh, cool, or warm water and add one to two tablespoons of one of the following:

  • Baby shampoo
  • Mild soap or detergent
  • Plant-based disinfectant

For a deeper clean or to clean a particularly funky wetsuit, add a few cups of white vinegar and several drops of essential oils to a tub or container filled with water. White vinegar acts as a disinfectant that eliminates bacteria, and the fragrance of the essential oils counters its acidic scent.

wetsuit cleaning

Wetsuit Cleaning Steps

  1. Fill a large bucket or tub with fresh, cool, or warm water. Don’t use hot water – heat can damage neoprene, causing your wetsuit to lose flexibility and wear down more quickly.
  2. If using a store-bought wetsuit cleaning solution, check the instructions and add the appropriate amount to the tub. If using a homemade version, add one to two tablespoons of wetsuit cleaning solution.
  3. Prepare your suit by opening all zippers and turning it inside out.
  4. Submerge the wetsuit in water and soak for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Remove and rinse thoroughly with cool water.

How To Dry a Wetsuit Steps

  1. After rinsing, hang the wetsuit inside out on a sturdy hanger.
  2. Be sure it’s in a dry, ventilated area or outside, away from the sun.
  3. Once the outer layer is dry, turn the wetsuit right side out and continue to dry.
  4. Store on a hanger or flat surface when the suit is completely dry.

wetsuit drying

Wetsuit Care FAQs

Q: How long do wetsuits last?

Several factors determine the lifespan of a wetsuit: how often you surf, how frequently you wash it, how it’s stored when not in use, and the quality of the material.

By giving your wetsuit the care it deserves, you can significantly extend its lifespan. With proper care and routine washing, a neoprene wetsuit should last one to two years for frequent (multiple times a week) surfers and longer – four to five years – for those who hit the waves less regularly.

If you notice any of the following, it’s time to look for a new wetsuit:

  • Cracked, stretched, or thinning neoprene
  • Large rips or holes
  • Loss of temperature control
  • Broken or jammed zippers
  • Change of sizing


Q: Can you put a wetsuit in the dryer?

Avoid putting a wetsuit in the dryer – heat damages neoprene, causing it to stretch and wear down quickly. Remember not to place your suit in direct sunlight, as the heat and UV rays can cause similar damage. Follow the steps above to properly dry your wetsuit and preserve its lifespan.

how to store neoprene

Q: Can you iron neoprene?

Do not iron neoprene – direct heat can melt the material. To avoid creasing, follow the steps below for proper wetsuit storage.

Q: How to store a wetsuit without damaging it?

Wetsuit storage is as important as the washing and drying process. Once the wetsuit is completely dry, place it on a wide, padded hanger or lay it flat to store. If space is limited and neither option is available, never fold your wetsuit. Place padding like bubble wrap or foam on the suit and roll it from the neck down. Store your wetsuit in a cool, dry, ventilated area.

With regular cleaning and proper care, your wetsuit will perform better and keep you out on the waves longer.