Can You Put a Wetsuit in the Washing Machine

Can You Put a Wetsuit in the Washing Machine? All You Need to Know

Cleaning the wetsuit after use is required for hygiene. Understanding how to clean and maintain your wetsuit will help it last longer. So, can you put a wetsuit in the washing machine? 

Yes, you can, but it may not be the best idea. Wetsuits use a foamy substance called neoprene to help insulate your body against the cold. Using a washing machine to clean a wetsuit could damage the neoprene and the suit’s functionality.

Let us go over all the essentials you need to know about cleaning and maintaining a wetsuit.

Can You Put A Wetsuit In The Washing Machine?

Though you can use a washing machine to clean your wetsuit,  it will decrease your wetsuit’s lifespan. You will also have to follow a few guidelines to reduce the damage as much as possible.

Wetsuits are made using a rubbery substance called neoprene that helps keep your body warm while you are in the water. It is a delicate material that can lose its flexibility when exposed to direct sunlight or physical stress and strain.

Wetsuits require gentleness when cleaning, which a washing machine may have trouble providing.

So here are steps you can follow to reduce the potential damage to your wetsuit when using a washing machine:

  • Use the slow spin cycle to avoid damaging the seams and zips of your wetsuit, which can decrease its insulation capabilities.
  • Only use cold water to clean because hot water breaks down the neoprene.
  • Instead of laundry detergent, use a mild soap like baby shampoo. Laundry detergent alters the compact structure of neoprene, creating spaces that allow cold water to seep into the wetsuit, reducing its functionality.
  • Separate your wetsuit from other garments when cleaning to avoid damaging the material.
  • Do not put your wetsuit in the dryer because the heat and stress will affect the neoprene’s physical properties, reducing its effectiveness.

Fortunately, there are simpler ways to clean and care for your wetsuit.

Best Way to Wash a Wetsuit

You can wash the suit by hand and hang it to dry outside. However, you should be careful because neoprene can be damaged by exposure to certain substances or conditions.

Here are steps you can follow to ensure that you clean your wetsuit thoroughly while preserving the suit’s integrity:

1. Rinse the Suit with Fresh AND Cold Water

After using the wetsuit, rinse it as soon as possible with cool water. Delaying the cleaning process will only give the salt time to solidify and make it harder to clean later. 

Salt from the ocean water can solidify into chunks that destroy parts of the neoprene structure, allowing water into the wetsuit through holes. 

Start by rinsing the inner side with fresh, cool water, then turn it inside out and rinse the outer part. Ensure you have soaked all parts of the wetsuit (inside and outside) with water. 

2. Use Gentle Soaps or Shampoo

Exposure to harsh chemicals present in laundry detergents damages neoprene, creating breaks in the wetsuit.

You can use a wetsuit cleaner or shampoo to give your suit a deep clean every once in a while. In case you have neither, mild soaps (like baby shampoo) you have at home could do the job just as well.

Be gentle when lathering the wetsuit to prevent any scratching or scraping. You should also avoid scrubbing the wetsuit because it will damage its material. Soaking your wetsuit for a few minutes in a shampoo solution allows the cleaning agents to get to all the crevices in your suit.

A good rule to remind you to shampoo your wetsuit is committing to deep cleaning it every second or third time you use it. 

3. Clean Your Wetsuit Boots

Wetsuit boots have a tendency to get stinky if you do not clean and dry them properly. 

To keep your wetsuit boots clean, rinse them after each session. Ensure you wash off all the sand and debris caught in the crevices of your boots. 

You should also clean them with shampoo whenever you are deep cleaning your wetsuit. Cleaning your boots with soap every once in a while keeps them smelling fresh.

Can You Dry a Wetsuit in the Sun?

Drying your wetsuit in direct sunlight is a big no. The UV rays in direct sunlight change the physical properties of neoprene in your suit. 

Instead of being flexible, the neoprene becomes stiff and brittle, increasing the chances of getting cracks in your wetsuit. When water seeps in through these holes, it interferes with the wetsuit’s insulation capabilities.

You should also avoid putting your wetsuit in a dryer. The heat damages the neoprene, reducing the suit’s effectiveness in cold water.

The following are steps you can follow to dry your wetsuit properly without damaging it:

  1. Squeeze the excess water out gently.
  2. Turn the suit inside out to dry the inner part.
  3. Hang it by the waist on a padded hanger. Using a thin metallic hanger stresses the suit’s material.
  4. Leave it out to dry. If you prefer to take it outdoors, hang it under a shade and not in direct sunlight.
  5. You can hang it indoors in a well-ventilated room like the bathroom. 
  6. Turn the suit back to allow the outer part to dry.

Tips for Keeping Your Wetsuit in Good Condition

Apart from cleaning and drying your wetsuit properly, there are a couple of standard practices you should follow to maintain your wetsuit. They include:

  • Ensure your wetsuit is completely dry before storing it.
  • Store your wetsuit lying flat instead of folding. Folding stresses the neoprene in your suit. You can also hang it by the waist using a padded hanger.
  • Keep it in a cool, well-ventilated place that is not exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Do not iron your wetsuit. The heat will damage its material and could even create holes.
  • Ensure all Velcro fastenings are done up so they do not scratch the material.
  • Clean your zipper with a small brush to remove particles that get stuck in the zipper teeth.

FAQs

Here are some questions others have about cleaning wetsuits:

1. Can you use vinegar to wash a wetsuit?

Yes, you can use it to get rid of unpleasant odors from your wetsuit. However, you should be careful with the concentration as acidic substances can damage the suit.

2. Can you wash a wetsuit in Dettol?

Yes, you can soak your wetsuit for a few minutes in a cold bath with a capful of Dettol. This process helps get rid of all the bacteria that may have accumulated.

3. How long should a wetsuit last?

If you follow the proper maintenance and cleaning guidelines, your wetsuit should last at least a year and could stretch to five years. 

Conclusion

So, can you put a wetsuit in the washing machine? Well, you can, but your wetsuit will probably have a shorter lifespan because of it. If you do not take the proper precautions, the washing machine might damage your suit.

Instead of using a washing machine, you can rinse your wetsuit after each session. You can then give it a deep clean with shampoo every once in a while to remove the accumulated bacteria.

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