The better you look after your wetsuit, the longer and happier a life it will lead. Here’s how to keep your wetsuit in good condition.
- Sunlight - neoprene wetsuits are like vampires, they don't like prolonged exposure to the sun.
- Fingernails and other sharp objects – neoprene is delicate so it’s easy to nick it with your nails when trying it on.
- Heat – keep it out of the kitchen and away from anything else hot (irons, radiators, log burners…)
- Surf wax – it sticks to everything, including neoprene.
- Bleach, paint or dye.
- Your washing machine and dryer
- Petroleum products – these will damage the neoprene. Use wetsuit-approved anti-chafe lotions instead.
- Rushing – always take your time to put on your wetsuit to prevent accidental damage. You can find some expert tips on how to put on your swimming wetsuit here.
"Make sure you stick something on the floor first to protect your suit from sharp objects on the ground," says Colin Hill, Ullswater Swim Place founder. "It could be a padded bag if you are in the hills – or I often grab the mat from the floor of my car. It's easily done, especially if you're cold and wet, trying to get changed in the rain without showing your bum to the nice people parked in a car opposite you."
- Give your wetsuit a thorough rinse inside and out with clean water - do not use hot water or any cleaning agents.
- Hang it inside-out and allow it to dry away from direct sunlight or any heat sources (the shower is a good spot as you can let it drip dry).
- Once the inside is dry, reverse it and hang to dry the outside.
The Outdoor Swimming Society founder Kate Rew says: "My biggest care point is that I put my wetsuit on with care - both to avoid nail tears and stressing seams by yanking it up in the same way over and over again."
- Make sure your wetsuit is completely dry before you store it.
- When storing your wetsuit, either hang on a rounded, wide-shouldered hangar, fold loosely and store in its mesh bag on a shelf or lay it out flat under a sofa or bed.
- Never stack other items on top of it.
- When transporting your wetsuit, roll it up rather than folding it. To protect the outer, some of us transport it inside out.
"I've read that rolling wetsuits to store them is better than using a hanger," says Kate Rew, "but I hang mine in a kit cupboard on a hanger to avoid compressing creases into them."
- Never ever put your wetsuit in a washing machine or tumble drier.
- After use, wash your wetsuit by rinsing it thoroughly with clean water, inside out and allow to dry completely.
- When you hang your wetsuit to dry, hang it over the middle of the torso to prevent unnecessary stretching.
"If you are swimming in the Lake District then you should always clean and dry your wetsuit between uses," says Colin Hill, "especially if you are going into different bodies of water. This avoids spreading invasive non-native species (there is an awareness program from the Lake District National Park called STOP THE SPREAD.)"
How to repair your wetsuit
- Neoprene can tear if you catch it on something (like your nails). You can repair this using a neoprene glue like Aquaprene:
- Clean the damaged area of dirt and oils with wet wipes or a damp sponge.
- Apply your glue to the damaged area, ensuring a nice even spread. If it’s a tear, it’s best to apply the glue inside the tear using a business card to make it neat.
- Leaving the glue to set overnight for a good strong bond.
"I would definitely say that when you buy a new suit, it’s worth also investing a few pounds in some neoprene repair glue with patches," says Colin.That way, if you do end up with a nick or tear, you can deal with it quickly and avoid it getting worse."
If you feel that you’re unable to fix your wetsuit yourself, pop into a Repair Stations in one of our stores or get in touch with our support team and we’ll see what we can do to help.
Is it ok to wee in my wetsuit?
Water is cold; wee is warm. Weeing in wetsuits is completely understandable... if it's your own! Colin Hill might have a thing or two to say about you peeing in his hire suits!
"You may have heard of the old saying, 'there are two types of people: those who pee in their wetsuit, and those who lie about peeing in their wetsuit.' Well, whatever it is, it’s not good to hold in your pee for too long — sometimes you just have to go! (It’s worth pointing out that peeing in a hire wetsuit is considered bad form. If you do, make sure to give it a good rinse in the shower before returning, they will re-wash with mild detergent anyway, but still...)
There are conflicting reports on whether pee harms the seams and neoprene of your suit, but it sure can stink if you don’t wash you suit out. Rinsing your suit out between swims is pretty essential - all that accumulated pee and sweat can't do your suit any good!