There are several different types of materials used in wetsuits to achieve specific functions. It is helpful to better understand each of these materials in order to properly care for them.
- Neoprene — Neoprene is the base material that virtually all wetsuits are made of. Neoprene is a type of rubber foam and is typically laminated with other materials depending on the desired function of the material.
- Standard Nylon — A standard nylon outer lining is very durable against normal wear and tear. Normal care must be taken to prevent snagging, abrasion, and cuts.
- Skin material — "skin" material may be used either inside our outside of your wetsuit and often around the wrists, ankles, and neck area. This material has a rubber like appearance either being smooth or textured, and is commonly referred to as "skin-in" or "skin-out". "Skin" neoprene material is typically used in areas where a water tight seal is desired or a benefit can be derived from it's water shedding properties. Some additional care is needed to prevent cutting, or abrasion of this material. Sharp fingernails may cut this material if care is not taken.
- Thermo-skin — This material may be used inside of your wetsuit. Thermo-skin material has a silver-colored smooth skin type surface. This material has beneficial heat reflective properties and also provides a sealing surface similar to standard "skin" materials. Some additional care is needed to prevent cutting, or abrasion of this material. Sharp fingernails may cut this material if care is not taken.
- X-Flex or Iso-Flex Neoprene — X-Flex and Iso-Flex neoprene are special materials designed specifically to have a much higher rate of stretch than conventional materials. Due primarily to the looser nit needed to achieve this high degree of stretch; these materials may be more prone to snagging. Velcro may also cause some light snagging and pilling of the material. Some additional care is needed to prevent excessive abrasion or snagging.
How To Prepare Your Wetsuit Before Use
With any of the skin surfaces including Thermo-skin, care should be taken when donning the wetsuit to not snag the interior skin surfaces with a fingernail or toenail as this material can be cut. Avoid placing your wetsuit on or near any hot surfaces.
If you're diving or snorkelling from a beach or the shore, keep your wetsuit up and away from the mud/sand. It's not so comfortable to pull on a sandy wetsuit!
How To Care For Your Wetsuit During Use
The exterior surface of your wetsuit is designed to withstand the normal wear and tear you might encounter during a normal dive. Abrasion against sharp rocks or other sharp objects can cut or puncture the exterior nylon surface so reasonable care should be taken to avoid these situations. Small cuts or tears can be easily repaired with wetsuit glue. Ask your dive professional for assistance.
Wetsuit Care After the Dive
When removing your wetsuit, first unzip all the zippers completely. Then remove one section at a time taking care to avoid puncturing any of skin surface panels with a fingernail. Also, when you take off your wetsuit, stand on pavement, a rock, your changing bag, grass or anything besides the middle of the sandy beach.
How To Clean Your Wetsuit
- Salt water and especially chlorine can "dry out" the neoprene material. When neoprene material "dries out" it looses its flexibility. To ensure the wetsuit material retains its flexibility for a extended period of time, it's important to thoroughly soak and rinse the wetsuit.
- Soak the wetsuit in a tub of warm fresh water, not over 49°C (120°F), for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
- After soaking, thoroughly hose off the wetsuit with fresh water
- Place the suit on a thick hanger with all the zippers open to ensure maximum air circulation and complete drying.
Do not use strong washing agents, such as bleach, when soaking your wetsuit. They are way too harsh for your neoprene wetsuit (not to mention the discoloration that will occur). There are some mild cleansing agents, such as Adrenalin Wetsuit and Gear Wash Concentrate, McNett Wetsuit and Drysuit Shampoo, and McNett MiraZyme Odour Eliminator, that you can purchase from . If these specialist products are not available, you can use a mild dish washing detergent.
Adrenalin Wetsuit and Gear Wash Concentrate - 250ml
Our Price: $10,
You Save $2 (17%).
Removes mould, kills germs, deodorises and conditions wetsuit fabric. Regular use will prolong the life of your wetsuit.
How To Store Your Wetsuit
- Wetsuit material can develop a permanent crease if left folded for a extended period of time. It is best to store your wetsuit laying flat. If that is not possible, you can store your suit on a hanger. Use as thick a hanger as possible to better support the weight of the wetsuit. The thicker the suit, the heavier, and therefore the thicker your hanger should be. There are several after-market hangers available designed specifically for this purpose. We especially like the Baker Shoulder Saver Ventilator Wetsuit/Drysuit Hanger, but the Underwater Kinetics Super Wetsuit Hanger and the Apollo BCD/Scuba Gear Multi Hanger, are also popular choices.
- Store your wetsuit in a cool, dry and protected place out of direct sunlight.
- Do not store your wetsuit in garage if the garage is used to park a vehicle. The exhaust emissions from the vehicle can over time deteriorate the neoprene.
Baker Shoulder Saver Ventilator Wetsuit/Drysuit Hanger
Our Price: $45,
You Save $5 (10%).
Huge Shoulder areas allow for natural air convection to flow throughout wetsuit and wick away moisture inside and out. Store your wetsuit as long as you like with NO harm from pressure points.
Wetsuit Zipper Care and Maintenance
Zippers are designed to be pulled closed or open in a straight line. Try to avoid pulling on the zipper pulls at an excessive angle to their intended path of travel. It is best to ask your dive buddy for zipper assistance in either opening or closing the back-zipper of a one piece back-zipped jumpsuit.
McNett Zip Care Zipper Cleaner and Lubricant (60ml)
Our Price: $14
Push-pull brush top enables the cleaner to be delivered between the teeth and physically removes harmful dirt, sand, and salt deposits that can damage sensitive zipper components.
Wetsuits And Chemicals/Solvents
- Avoid any contact with oil, gasoline, aerosols, or chemical solvents.
- Do not expose any part to aerosol spray, as some aerosol propellants attack or degrade rubber and plastic materials.
- Do not use any type of alcohol, solvent or petroleum based substances to clean or lubricate any part.
- Do not store your equipment near any oil, gasoline, chemicals, or solvents.
How to Get Rid of Wetsuit Smells and Odours
As we mentioned above, there are special cleaning soaps and solutions for getting rid of wetsuit odours.
Our favourite is:
McNett MiraZyme Odour Eliminator.
Other choices include:
McNett Wetsuit and Drysuit Shampoo, and
Adrenalin Wetsuit and Gear Wash Concentrate.
McNett MiraZyme Odour Eliminator (237ml)
Our Price: $20
A powerful blend of microbes that quickly and easily eliminate odours, so your wetsuit smells fresh and clean again. Instead of covering up odours, MiraZyme's naturally occurring microbes remove the bacteria that cause them.
If these products are not available to you for some reason, then here is our recipe for washing smelly wetsuits:
- 1st: Fill the tub up a quarter of the way with fresh, warm (not hot) water.
- 2nd: Add a couple tablespoons of dish washing detergent, just enough to get a dilute bubbly water bath for soaking.
Note: Some people will use laundry detergent, but we think even that is too harsh for neoprene (and tougher to rinse off).
- 3rd: Wash your wetsuit in the tub of soap and the detergent will break down the body oils and odours. In addition, it will help wash away the bacteria that caused the smell in the first place.
- 4th: Rinse your wetsuit in fresh water in order to get all the detergent off. Then hang your wetsuit up to dry in the fresh air (away from direct sunlight).
- 5th: Every few weeks, repeat this process to keep your wetsuit completely odour-free!
If you have any specific enquiry about how to care for your dive gear, please feel free to contact Scuba Doctor Service and Repairs by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by a telephone call to 03 5985 5440.
Need a new wetsuit? Take a look at the new wetsuits we have available in our dive shop.