Wetsuit care 101 - How to care for your blubber

 

As I gazed blankly at the footbed of my car this morning, I reminded myself how valuable that steamy little pile of wetsuit is to me. The next thing that came to mind is all the steps I take, without fault, in taking care of it… save this morning, that one more wave made me late for work. So, here’s your weekly/bi-weekly blog post which will give you all the info you need to get the most out of your steamer.

We aren’t all blessed to live in the clear, warm waters of the tropics. In fact, most of us live and surf in pretty harsh environments. That said, in those places, it’s only the brave, the dumb and the macho that tackle the task of surfing without a wetsuit. For the rest of us mere mortals, a wetsuit is as much a part of us as anything. For us, our wetsuit is our favorite shirt, our favorite hat. It’s our wallet, our keys, something we rarely leave home without. Sometimes it’s there for that lucky workday where the boss cuts out early and you follow suit for that chance at a sundown session. Either way, no matter who you are, if you own a wetsuit, you know how much you paid, even at a discount, and you know how much it sucks when your surf skin gets that first hole. The following wetsuit maintenance routine will guide you and your wetsuit to a full, happy life. Follow them to a T and you’ll get the most out of your prized possession.

1) Take care in taking off your wetsuit. Sure it’s stretchy and you’re late for work, but chill out, take your time. I know that a 4/3mm suit, no matter how space-age, is like trying to get out of a straight jacket but trying to rip yourself free from the jaws of life isn’t going to make things any easier for you or for your wetsuit. One easy tip that helps with keeping your feet and wetsuit clean is using a piece of astroturf to change on. It’s porous and will rinse out easily. If not astroturf, jump up into the bed of your truck or grab that yoga mat your wife got you for christmas as a hint. That way you avoid the tar, oil, dirt, glass and whatever else you can find in your local surf lot.

2) This is the most important! Rinse out your suit with fresh water every time you use it, even between 2-a-days or weekend warrior sessions. Saltwater is corrosive and will eat anything in its path. Do yourself a favor, you don’t want to smell like seal pee anyways. Bring a jug of water to rinse with which will help dilute the saltwater that lies within the neoprene. When you get home, rinse it thoroughly with cool water. Your suit is built for cold water; warm water will slowly break down taped seams.

3) If you surfed after a rain or you made it rain inside your suit, use a cap-full of wetsuit soap in a bucket to get that nasty swamp sauce out of there. If you have small kids, save yourself a trip and use baby shampoo. Regular soap is too harsh for wetsuits. To clean your suit real good like, knead the sudsy water into the neoprene, then move on to the nooks and crannies, even the zipper and velcro. Since we’re referencing this already, let’s go over the pros and cons of “staying warm.”

Pee Pee Pros

  • Momentary warmth – pretty nice in 45° water.
  • Eliminates an extra return paddle out.
  • You don’t have to peel off/on your wet wetsuit.
  • Eliminates some of that belly pressure when paddling.

Pee Pee Cons

  • If you have a nice new wetsuit…pee doesn’t just pass through.
  • Pee contains acid and enzymes that can slowly deteriorate neoprene.
  • Pee contains bacteria that can lead to staph infection and other puss resulting grossness.
  • Pee smells like, well you guessed it, pee.
  • Pee can attract undesired sea life attention.

4) Did you just unleash like Seabiscuit the whole sesh after poker night with the boys… brunch with the ladies… or because you get that 8 pints of water down per day? Sometimes wetsuit cleaner doesn’t quite do the mind justice. Here’s a secret of the pros…add a cap of mouth rinse instead.

5) Hang up it up proper, in the shade, preferably the shower or garage. Don’t just toss  it over the back fence or the bed of your truck. The shoulders and neck are the first areas that break down when hung up like a t-shirt, so hang it up as follows. Grab a hanger (non-metal), slide the legs through and hang it doubled-up (hamburger style) , inside-out.

6) Once the outside (which is the inside of your suit) is dry, turn it right side out and repeat. I sometimes squeeze the water out of the pooled up areas of the ankle and wrist to help speed up the process. Once it’s dry, keep it hung up this way. NEVER hand your wetsuit up by the shoulders. Visit a local beach town thrift store and you’ll see why.

You’ve got all the info necessary to make good wetsuit decisions. While you chew on that mind matter, I’m going to go start the process with my wetsuit so that I’m not beating myself up later. If it’s too late for your wetsuit and you need a replacement, give us a call and we'll dial you in.


Garek Hurt
Garek Hurt

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