How To Wash A Wetsuit

🕓   5 min read✏️   Updated on 18th April 2024


Hi guys and welcome to my ‘How To Wash a Wetsuit’ guide.

In this post we’ll be looking at the process I use after coming home from a session. There’s a video that explains it all or you can read the exact same info below it.

1. How To Wash A Wetsuit Video
2. You Will Need…
3. Steps To Follow
4. What NOT To Do

It’s super helpful stuff, so let’s get started!  




1. How To Wash A Wetsuit Video



2. You Will Need…

Plastic Container

Some form of plastic container, this is where the wetsuit will be cleaned and left to soak. You’re much better off using a plastic container/bucket to wash your wetsuit, rather than using the bath tub. If you go the bath tub route, the sand you wash off your wetsuit will eventually ruin your plumbing. The plastic container I’m using is 50 litres in volume and could easily soak a couple of wetsuits. I bought mine a while back but there are some very similar, well reviewed containers on Amazon…


Wetsuit Shampoo

The second thing I recommend is to use proper wetsuit shampoo. This step is optional, but using a wetsuit shampoo is the best way to clean your wetsuit. Most wetsuit shampoo’s not only wash your wetsuit but also protect and treat the neoprene. This therefore helps keep your wetsuit in its’ best condition for as long as possible. The wetsuit shampoo I use and recommend is O’Neill Wetsuit Shampoo & Conditioner. I’ve found it works really well, I’ve even done my own product review.   O'Neill Wetsuit Cleaning Shampoo




3. Steps To Follow

Step 1 – Wash Off Sand

So, the first step of washing a wetsuit is an easy one – wash off all the sand you’ve taken back home with you from the beach. Whether your wetsuit is currently inside out or not, it doesn’t really matter. The end goal here is to quickly remove all the excess sand from the wetsuit, both inside and out. Once done, turn your wetsuit inside out.  

Step 2 – Apply Cleaner

Fill your plastic container with warm water and place your wetsuit inside. The water shouldn’t be too hot as this will do more damage then good, lukewarm is fine. Once the water has soaked into the wetsuit, apply the wetsuit shampoo. If you’ve not got any wetsuit shampoo at this point (I still recommend you get some), you can continue to follow the steps to give your wetsuit a more basic clean. After applying the wetsuit shampoo, get some bubbles going in and you’re ready for the next step.  

Step 3 – Squeeze + Clean

Now the wetsuit shampoo has soaked in a bit, start squeezing each section of the neoprene whilst it’s under the water.  This will force the cleaning solution in and out of the material and give it a thorough clean. Continue this process until all of the wetsuit panels have had a sufficient clean. I normally do this for a good five minutes to try and make sure the wetsuit shampoo has soaked through all the necessary areas a few times.  

Step 4 – Soak (10 Mins)

Once you’ve given your wetsuit a good clean, leave it to soak for at least 10 minutes. This will give the wetsuit shampoo a chance to really work its’ way through the neoprene. If you’re using a proper wetsuit shampoo, this is the part where the solution is cleaning and protecting your neoprene. This is also gives the opportunity to unpack some of the car from the days beach trip!  

Step 5 – Hang To Dry

Once your wetsuit has soaked, it’s time to hang it to dry and there are two methods of doing so.

  • The first method is for the lighter, summer wetsuits (shorty’s and/or anything less than 3mm thickness). For these wetsuits you want to hang the wetsuit using the shoulders of the clothes hanger like you would for a T-shirt.
  • The second method is for the heavier, winter wetsuits (3mm or thicker). For these wetsuits you want to fold the wetsuit at the waist using the bottom part of the clothes hanger. This reduces any chance of stretching that would occur using the first method on a heavy wetsuit and is also the quickest way to dry – as explained in the video.




4. What NOT To Do

If you’ve reached this bit I’m hoping you’ve followed the steps above to successfully wash your wetsuit. But, there are some frequently asked questions when washing a wetsuit that I thought would be useful to address. The following tips are what NOT to do when washing a wetsuit…  

1. No Washing Machines

If you’ve read my ‘Wetsuit Buying Guide’ or ‘Surfboard Buying Guide’ posts one of the things that remains consistent is the negative effect of heat. Excessive heat can have an extremely damaging effect on a wetsuits material, which, in turn degrades any future performance. If you put your wetsuit in the washing machine do not expect the same wetsuit to come out when it’s finished.  

2. No Strong Detergents

Similar to the damaging effect of heat, the use of strong detergents can ruin a wetsuits performance. Although neoprene is very durable, a lot can still damage it – strong detergents are one of those things. If you don’t have any wetsuit shampoo as recommended above, please don’t resort to strong detergents. You’re still better off giving a standard water wash then to use any strong detergents on your wetsuit. If you are still determined to use a detergent, an organic detergent is the least likely to damage your wetsuits neoprene. BUT, I’d still recommend a proper wetsuit shampoo like these.  

3. No Wax Scrubbing

The final don’t on the list then is to do with surfboard wax on your wetsuit. If like me you often come out from a session with a bit of surfboard wax stuck to your chest or knees, leave it there! It may not look the best but there’s little point in scrubbing it off and possibly damaging the neoprene. Especially when it’ll just find its’ way back onto your wetsuit after the next session.  





So guys that is it, my ‘How To Clean A Wetsuit’ guide in full. I hope you found both the video and blog post useful, would be great to hear from you in the comments below if so. Would also be great to hear if you have any different methods or tips you use whilst washing your wetsuit. As always, be sure to follow on the usual socials below to keep up to date with the latest surfing content!  

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Next read: ‘Surfing at the Tokyo 2021 Olympics’

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