Surfing is the best great because it’s free, right? Just throw one of your many $900 shred-sleds into the back of the car, load up your $500 wetsuit, pile on the expensive sunscreen, and it’s smooth glidin' – right after you pay the exorbitant state park entry fee. The point is, all our surfing equipment is a big investment, and most die-hard surfers aren’t making six figures. This makes it necessary for the lot of us to employ practices that makes our equipment stay usable for as long as possible.
Keeping wetsuits clean can seem quite simple, but many of us frothers drag expensive suits along rough concrete when we change out of them, leave them salty, and don't store them correctly, snipping away at their potential lifespan. Caring for a wetsuit properly is good for your wallet, good for the environment (yeah, neoprene production is not eco or ocean-friendly), and good for practicing being a responsible adult (even if you aren’t). Here are some ways to properly care for your wetsuit:
Get A Changing Mat
A major contributor to wetty degradation is surfers rushing to change out of them. Abrasive parking lots with concrete teeth and neoprene-ripping claws do quite a bit of damage to our goods, and even if you don’t notice anything right away, it can wear them down quickly over time. Consider purchasing a quality changing mat with enough room for your suit, or even stepping into a wide bucket and slipping your suit off immediately, not letting it touch the floor, is a great alternative. Find our staff-favorite bucket here.
Properly Rinse Your Wetsuit
This just in—saltwater is bad for and breaks down neoprene. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but thoroughly rinsing your wetsuit with fresh water, removing any trace of salt from it, is probably the most important thing you can do to extend the life of your wetsuit. Apart from breaking down neoprene, corrosive salts put a dent in stretchyness—so if you leave your wetsuit salty for a week, it could be a little harder to slip into, and you'll likely experience more resistance in the suit. WASH YOUR WETSUIT with fresh water and a mild soap to retain the rubbery, the oh-so-stretchy goodness.
Additionally, sometimes you need a bit more manpower than some mild soap—for that thing that we all say we don’t do but indeed do. I mean peeing in your wetsuit, of course. Try a wetsuit shampoo that really gets down to the nitty gritty while being gentle on the neoprene.
Wetsuits Don’t Need Tans
Guess what else is horrible for the life of your suit? Sun! After properly washing your suit with fresh water, don’t hang it outside and let the sun bake UV rays into its fragile material. This will also affect the stretch and can break down the neoprene rather quickly, producing cracks and stiffness that can easily lead to a big, irreparable tear. Store your wetsuit in a cool, dry, and dark place free from harmful rays of the sun, and hang it on a wide hanger to ensure proper drying and ventilation.
A Few More Tips
Oils, chemical solvents, and petroleum-based substances will kill your suit. Stay away from any and all of these. And just plain be kind to your wetties!
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