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How to treat your wetsuit right

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

So, you’ve just bought your new wetsuit and that sweet, sweet smell of neoprene is stronger than ever. Wetsuits need to be taken care of just like all other dive gear, but they are sometimes overlooked as they aren’t seen as technical as other equipment.

Here’s how to treat your wetsuit right to make it last longer:

  • After a day of diving, make sure you wash your suit with freshwater. Saltwater is aggressive to all forms of equipment and wetsuits are no different.

  • Let your suit dry overnight. Not only is it considerably easier to put a dry wetsuit on, it’s also better for the material to not sit in water all night long.

  • When drying your suit, don’t just chuck it over the edge of a chair or a balcony banister. Hang it up on a coat hanger and make sure it’s one that has wide shoulders. Wetsuits are heavy when wet and you don’t want to stretch the suit at the shoulders by using a hanger which struggles with the weight.

  • For your full-length wetsuits, after you have hung it up, make sure you check the wrist and ankle cuffs. These are prone to folding inwards and trapping water inside. While this might not seem like the biggest of issues, this will overstretch the rubber cuffs and weaken the material over time. It is also a prime hiding spot for mosquitos and other inspects in tropical locations.

  • Avoid using sunscreen that will get on your suits. These chemicals can once again, weaken the material and are incredibly difficult to wash out. Wear a loose t-shirt or long-sleeved top instead to protect your skin from the sun – we’re strong advocates for protecting our skin over here 😊. And while we’re at it, make sure you choose a mineral-based sunscreen (instead of your mass-produced chemical-based products) for your face, which won’t contaminate the reefs.

  • Wetsuit zippers need maintaining. The plastic zipper can get clogged with dirt, salt, or sand and make it harder to close over time. Forcing a zip can break it and that’s the last thing you want – it might even render your suit unusable and sending it off for repairs is no fun, when you could spend that time diving instead. Not only does cleaning the zip frequently help, but there are specially designed wetsuit zipper lubricants that should be used every few months. Each manufacturer will have their own set of instructions for how often to apply their product but, as a general rule of thumb, I only use this on my wetsuits when the zip is really struggling or if I’m putting it into long-term storage and won’t be diving for a few months. For semi-dry and drysuits, I will use it much more regularly as these zippers are tougher and undergo more strain.

  • When putting your suit away for long-term storage, make sure it’s clean, dry, and if possible, hanging upright. Folding a suit for a long period of time will weaken the material at the crease.

  • Never, ever, ever pee in your wetsuit. Yes, it’s all fun and games when the divemaster jokingly warns you not to do it but folks, seriously, don’t do it. We can all smell it once the suits come off, you then throw it into the same cleaning tanks that everyone else uses, and hey presto, now there’s urine on everything else too. On top of that, it seeps into the neoprene and can weaken the structural integrity of the suit over time. Be a good buddy and just hold it until after the dive.

Do you have any other tips for how best to take care of your wetsuit? We would all love to hear them, so please share in the comments below!


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