If you are a person who owns a wetsuit, there’s a very good chance you’re also a person who owns a wetsuit that smells like the inside of a dead cat. That’s because, like nearly everyone else routinely encasing their bodies in a layer of neoprene, you don’t care for it properly. You wrap your body in hot rubber, then spend a few hours sweating into it, pissing into it (YES, YOU DO), and if you’re really unlucky, shitting into it. Then you go home and either leave your rancid suit in a lump in your trunk where it cooks in the sun until the next time you surf, or you flop it over the railing to bake all the urine and sweat into it like some kind of horrible stench-cake.
After a few months, pulling your wetsuit over your head means suppressing your gag reflex and covering your upper lip with a thick coating of Vicks VapoRub like a crime scene investigator who just found a month-old corpse in a bathtub. This, of course, inevitably leads to trouble at home. Your partner will tire of sleeping next to a person who smells like a hobo’s underwear, your sex life will diminish, and you will die cold and alone. Even after your death, the embalmer will refuse to fill your veins with formaldehyde because, honestly, the smell of death will be an improvement on what you currently smell like. All this because you didn’t care properly for your wetsuit. There is, however, a very simple way to avoid all that: wash your wetsuit. You don’t even have to do this every time you surf—once a week will do just fine. But you should at least rinse it after each session, you smelly yeast beast. These wetsuit cleaners will also help.
Editor’s Note: Interested in the best wetsuits for surfing? Click here, and learn more about women’s wetsuits here. Cold feet? Check out our guide to the best surf booties. Want to avoid getting your ears drilled? Read our earplugs review here.
1. Rinse your suit thoroughly with freshwater, inside and out. If nothing else, just do this, then refer to step four. You’d be surprised at how well a simple rinse and then hanging it to dry keeps the hellish reek at bay.
2. Get some distilled white vinegar (not balsamic or apple cider, you monster) and some essential oils. Lavender, tea tree, cinnamon, eucalyptus; whatever floats your boat. Vinegar smells like shit, but it kills bacteria growing in your wetsuit, so the essential oils will make you smell like a person who doesn’t bathe in vinegar. They’re also said to have some kind of antibacterial properties, but that might just be witchcraft.
3. Pour a few cups of vinegar into the bathtub or a big bucket, then chase it 10-20 drops of whatever essential oil you picked. Throw your suit in the tub with your vinegar/oil combination, then smash it around with a paddle, your hands, or a stick. Let it soak for half an hour, then rinse it thoroughly again.
4. Hang it up inside out and folded over at the waist. Don’t hang it in the sun and don’t hang it from the neck like a shirt. That will eventually stretch it out and slowly pull the seams apart.
Now, you can go about your day and the rest of your life without worrying it will be ruined because you smell like a person who bathes in ferret urine. As an added bonus, taking care of your wetsuit will make it last way, way longer.