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How to take care of your cold water wetsuit

man in wetsuit

Some wetsuits can be expensive, so you must ensure you look after your neoprene wetsuit appropriately so it lasts as long as possible. 

There are many tips and tricks to help protect your cold water wetsuit from sun damage.

Our Cold Water Swim team have looked into which methods are the best for taking care of your wetsuits. 

So, please continue reading to learn more about maintaining your wetsuit and keeping it in optimal condition.

Why is it important to look after your wetsuit?

Wetsuits are important as they provide protection, insulation, compression, and confidence to open water swimmers. 

So, having a well-functioning wetsuit is highly important. A damaged suit will not provide any support in cold waters, and damage can occur easily without proper wetsuit care. Wetsuits can be harmed by salt water, urine, algae, surf wax and the sun, to name just a few factors. 

However, with a simple routine, you can keep your wetsuits in pristine quality for a long time. 

Wetsuits aren’t always cheap; looking after yours is in your best interest, so you don’t have to buy a new one before the warranty runs out.

man in wetsuit stretching

Top tips for maintaining your wetsuits

Here are Cold Water Swim’s tips for taking care of your cold water wetsuit:

Freshwater rinse after every session.

The most important maintenance tip we can give you is to freshwater rinse your wetsuit after every open water swim. Saltwater will corrode your wetsuit extremely fast!

Washing any dried salt off your suit is crucial, even if you only dipped in the water for five minutes. We know it can be tedious, but it is a must if you want your swimming wetsuit to last longer than a couple of months.

We recommend removing the suit and washing it in the bathtub with warm or cold water, but never hot water.

Make sure you flip your suit inside and wash it again, as salty water will also enter the interior of your wetsuit. 

Hang up your wetsuit to dry.

Squeeze out any excess water, then hang your wet wetsuit to dry with a plastic hanger. You want to ensure the suit is hanging bent at the waist, not the shoulders, as this will misshape your suit, making it more difficult to get on and off. 

If you have one, we recommend putting your wetsuit on the hanger in the bathroom or a garage. 

Never hang your wet wetsuit by the shoulders; roll it up and shove it in a drawer!

Check out our favourite wetsuit hangers, which will help you maintain the quality of your open-water wetsuit. 

Keep your wetsuit in the shade.

Aside from salt water, sunlight and UV rays are among the top factors that will damage your wetsuit, so it is important to hang your suit in the shade. 

Your wetsuit should be stored in a dry place, away from direct sunlight or UV rays, so a garage or storage cupboard would be ideal.

Even if it’s cloudy or a nice hot day, it’s not worth the risk. Take your wet suit, flip it inside out, and dry your wetsuit inside a dark room. 

Drying your suit in the sun could save time; however, we would not advise leaving it outside if you want to use your wetsuit for longer than one season. 

Use a wetsuit shampoo.

You do not need to take this step every time, but once in a while, a wet suit shampoo will help to maintain your wetsuit. 

Over time, sand, salt, and dirt might build up in your suit, especially if you surf, which could damage the suit. So, purchasing a high-quality wet suit shampoo will make your wetsuit feel brand new.

You can use your shampoo by pouring a few drops into a bucket of warm or cold fresh water; then, put your wetsuit in and scrub away. Wetsuit neoprene is a delicate material, so an occasional shampoo prevents erosion, but never put bleach in your bucket. 

Top tip: pay attention to the zipper as well, as metals may rust in saltwater.

Use an odour repellant.

Now, everyone is guilty of weeing in their wetsuit now and then, whether you want to admit it or not!

A build-up of urine will eventually make your wetsuit smell, which isn’t pleasant. So, we highly recommend purchasing a product like Mirazyme that masks unwanted odours caused by bacteria and mildew. 

Rip Curl has even created a product called Piss Off which actively targets smells left by seeing in your wetsuit. (No, we aren’t joking!)

You can add the odour removal to your freshwater shampoo wetsuit regime!

Take care of your wetsuit when changing.

Neoprene can be sturdy but can become less durable as time goes on. So, you should be cautious when handling your wetsuit, especially when putting it on and off. 

Take your time; don’t grab and grip to yank the suit off, even if it is difficult to remove. Trust us; we know how frustrating and time-consuming it can be to take off a well-suctioned suit, but you will thank us in the long run. 

Trying to stand on one leg to get the other off or rip a sleeve off will only tear your wetsuit’s seams. 


How often should you clean your neoprene wetsuit?

You should rinse your wetsuit with fresh water after every use to ensure your wetsuit remains in optimal condition. 

Then, you should consider washing your suit with shampoo and anti-odour treatment at least once a month. 

You could use baby shampoo if you cannot afford a specific wetsuit product. Baby shampoo isn’t as harsh as other products; however, a proper wetsuit cleanser is recommended.

Can you spin dry a neoprene wetsuit?

We would not recommend you tumble dry your wetsuit, as the washing machine could damage your suit and its seams. If you insist on using a machine to dry your cold water wetsuit, you should put it on the slowest spin with a cool wash. 

Never put any other clothes or items in the machine with the wetsuit, as this could cause further damage.

All the detergent typically used for washing machines will also harm the wetsuit, so we suggest you stick with handwashing your suit with wetsuit shampoo and then allowing your wetsuit to drip dry in the fresh air.

How should I store your wetsuit?

To avoid direct sunlight, you must store your wetsuit in a dry, dark environment. You should have your wetsuit hung by the waist.

Never store your wetsuit by rolling, cramming, or squashing it into tight spaces. If you do not have a wetsuit hanger, you can lay your suit out flat. 

Neoprene wetsuit care is crucial to protect the neoprene material, especially in open waters where you will endure stagnant water, chlorine, etc. 

How long should your wetsuit last?

On average, your wetsuit should last for 4 to 10 years. 

How long you can make your wetsuit last will depend on the quality, usage, and product maintenance. 

You should always check the wetsuit’s warranty before purchasing; however, most suits have a one-year warranty. Meaning if your suit is damaged within the first year, you can get it replaced. 

How do you stop your wetsuit from smelling?

You should purchase an anti-odour product like Mirazyme to keep your suits smelling fresh. 

A secret top tip we will share is that adding a splash of mouthwash to your wetsuit shampoo will help eliminate any nasty wetsuit stink! Trust us, it works.


If you want to ensure you are only buying a wetsuit once, you need to take the necessary steps to take care of your suits. 

To summarise, dry your wetsuit until completely dry both inside and out, avoid storing it in direct sunlight, use cold fresh water to rinse your wetsuit and remove salt, and use shampoo to keep your suit odour-free.

We have given you our best tips, so now you know how to look after your wetsuit correctly and how to reduce smells, prevent rips, and avoid damage from the elements. 

Are you looking for your first wet suit? If you want to learn more about the top wetsuits on the market, we have reviewed a range of amazing suits on your behalf.

Stay up to date with all the best wetsuit care advice with Cold Water Swim!