Six simple steps to extend the life of your suit.
As surfers, we don’t need much for a great day on the water. Firing waves, a good board, a warm, flexible wetsuit. And thanks to the technical advancements in neoprene, seam and zipper design, wetsuits are warmer and more flexible than ever before. But despite all the tech, it’s still easy to shorten the life of your suit through neglect or improper care. Fortunately, it’s just as easy to keep your suit in top condition, stay warmer and surf longer when the waves are pumping.
Here are six things you can do to maximize the life of your suit.
- Take off your suit carefully. Our wetsuits are built to last and are incredibly flexible. But the best science and tech on the planet won’t stand up to one leg of your suit being grinded into oily asphalt while the other leg is stretched to 500% to get it off. So slow down and pull off your suit carefully. And watch out for fingernails digging into smoothie skin; they will slice. Using a towel or Xcel Changing Mat to protect against oily, gravely asphalt is also a great idea. Do these things and your wetsuit seams, stitching and rubber will stay tight and warm.
- Rinse your suit. Every time. If you do nothing else (after taking your suit off carefully), do this. Unrinsed salt and sand over time will turn your suit into form-fitting sandpaper and could cause rashes. (Yes, we can sell you a rash guard, but neither you nor we will feel good about that.) Sand and salt build-up can also make zippers sticky and neoprene stiff, and unrinsed bacteria will give your suit the odor of a dead cat. Bottom line: rinse your suit.
- Wash your suit with soap, occasionally. While rinsing your wetsuit with cool water after every surf is 90% of the battle against rashes, smells and neoprene degradation, if you really want to extend the life of your suit, occasionally wash it using a mild, all-natural, non-bleach laundry detergent, or wetsuit soap. Important: Do not do this in a washing machine! Instead, get old school with it. Fill a bucket with cool water, add a small amount of mild soap, and soak your suit for several minutes. Be sure to rinse your suit thoroughly afterward — ironically, detergent residue can cause mildew.
- Don’t pee in your wetsuit. Okay, that’s not feasible; you’re gonna pee in your suit. You just are. Holding it absolutely kills your performance and style and, let’s face it, pee is warm. But if — or rather when — you pee in your suit, make sure you take actions later to reverse the damage it can do. First, of course, is the stink it leaves behind. But more importantly, that stink is the result of bacteria, which can also lead to mildew. So, in addition to good rinsing habits, you might want to use gentle odor-killing products such as Mirazyme.
- Never, ever tumble dry your wetsuit. Ever. We’ve all been there. It’s dawn, the waves are firing, and your wetsuit is sopping wet and icy cold from the twilight session yesterday. It would be sooo easy to throw it in the dryer and have a dry, warm suit to slide into. Don’t give in! Those two minutes of bliss come at a high cost. Heat and tumbling damage seams, weaken glue and break down neoprene. All the things you're paying for in a high-quality, well-made suit. Plus, it could void your warranty. So bite the bullet now and enjoy your wetsuit for months longer.
- Dry your suit properly. Now that the dryer is out, what’s the best way to dry your suit? Hang it on a wide-shouldered wetsuit hanger, inside out in a cool, ventilated space. This will cut down on bacteria and mildew build-up. And for best results, turn it right-side out after 24 to 48 hours so both inside and out dry properly. Above all, avoid drying your suit in sunlight. Like the dryer, this will ravage seams, glue and neoprene. The same goes for heat, by the way, so crumpled up in your trunk is a major buzz-kill.
And that’s it. Follow those six simple rules and your wetsuit will be ready when the waves turn on. And as surfers, that gives us most of what we need.