Wetsuits are a blessing and a curse. They allow you to paddle in all types of weather and conditions, but they’re often wet and stinky, not to mention they cost an arm and a leg. While wetsuits present their challenges, they’re probably your biggest investment aside from your board and should be treated as such. Meaning you shouldn’t ball them up in your trunk until your next session, but you should rinse and store them with care. We’ve rounded up some crucial tips, for beginner and experienced surfers alike, on how to properly care for and store your wetsuit.
Freshwater rinse. Do a freshwater rinse after every session. Even if you plan to paddle back out in a few hours, thoroughly rinse your suit inside and out. If your local spot doesn’t have a shower or you’re short for time, try sticking a jug of warm water in your car to rinse yourself and your suit after your session. Just be sure and rinse the inside once you get home.
Properly store your suit. While cramped quarters or a vagabond lifestyle may present challenges, it is important to take time to properly store your suit. In order to prolong the life of your suit, store it out of direct sunlight, ideally in the garage or shower. Using a plastic hanger, pull your suit through and hang it doubled-up, inside-out (avoid hanging your suit by the shoulders as doing so will stretch it out). Each day, turn your suit inside out to ensure that it dries evenly.
Shampoo occasionally. Even if you’re ultra-committed to rinsing your suit, you’re bound to miss a few spots. Salt is extremely corrosive and letting it sit is a sure-fire way to destroy your suit. To avoid premature damage, fill a bucket with cool water, add the wetsuit cleaner of your choice, and rub the soap into the suit. After thoroughly cleansing your suit, you guessed it, rinse with fresh water.
Slow down. Taking off a wet, sandy suit can be a pain in the rear. Instead of ripping off your suit, slow down, apply pressure evenly, and carefully take off your suit. Peel off your suit instead of pulling at the cuffs — doing so will help prevent tearing of the seams at the wrists and ankles. Try using a changing mat or towel to avoid grinding your suit into the sand or pavement.
Patch it up. Despite your best efforts, wear and tear will occur with time. Take your suit to your local surf shop for repairs or do them yourself if you feel comfortable. Invest in some wetsuit cement, glue-on seam tape, floss, and a needle for an at-home repair. If your suit is under warranty, take it in and get it fixed up!