If you scuba dive, surf or participate in other water sport activities that require a wet suit, you may simply rinse the suit while taking a shower when you come out of the water. As you wear your wet suit over time, however, body oils and other secretions, dead skin, and seawater residues can build up. Bacteria, which grows on these contaminants, can then cause your suit to give off an unpleasant odor. Cleaning your suit properly can help to reduce this problem and can also increase the suit's life span, keeping the neoprene, from which the suit is made, fresh and resilient.
Fill a tub with warm, not hot, water. Place the wet suit completely under water. If the wet suit was used in a chlorinated pool or salt water, allow the suit to soak for 30 minutes to one hour to dissolve the chlorine or salts. Remove the suit and drain the tub.
Refill the tub with fresh, warm water. Add two capsful of dishwashing detergent or a commercially available wet suit shampoo and mix it thoroughly in the water.
Place the wet suit in the water. Wash the suit thoroughly in the detergent solution. For stubborn areas, use a very soft brush to help remove body oils and bacteria that cause offensive odors. Rinse the wet suit thoroughly in clean water to remove the detergent.
Turn the wet suit inside out and place it on a wide plastic hanger to allow air to circulate through the suit so that it dries completely before storing it. Store the wet suit out of overly hot or sunny areas; excessive heat or sunlight can degrade the neoprene in the suit.
- Never wash a wet suit in a washing machine or dry it in a dryer. Do not use an iron to get out creases in your wet suit, as this can melt the neoprene, ruining both the suit and the iron.
- Do not use bleach or strong cleaning agents to clean wet suits. These can significantly reduce the flexibility and life span of neoprene, according to the 360 Guide for wet suits.