The RinseKit Wetsuit Care Guide

Winter is a bittersweet time for surfers. On the upside, the fair weather crowds are nowhere to be seen - just in time for large Winter swells to start rolling in. On the downside, there is, of course, the sharp sting of cold water. Fortunately for us modern day surfers, wetsuit technology has come a long way, making even the chilliest of water temps bearable for the brave. 

wetsuit guide 2022

Wetsuit upkeep is essential. If you neglect your suit and just throw it in the back of your car after every session with no other attention paid, it will quickly transform from an expertly crafted form of body heating technology to a tattered pile of smelly rubber quicker than you can say “it’s a 4/3”.

For this reason, we believe that surfers need to pay attention to wetsuit care and upkeep. Being a company that was founded by a surfer and whose core customer base is surfers, we felt compelled to provide a few tips on how to keep your suit fresh this season, so you can keep warm and keep shredding. Let’s take a look at why wetsuit care is important, and a few simple steps you can take to ensure your suit stays functional and fresh.

Why Wetsuit Care is Important

Before we get into the how of taking care of your wetsuit, let’s look at the why. Since they’re made of rubber, many people don’t think wetsuits need to be cleaned, especially if they are used frequently and water runs through them enough. This could not be further from the truth. There are two very important reasons why rinsing and cleaning your wetsuit regularly is important. They include:

  • It can smell really bad. If you’re a regular surfer, you probably use your wetsuit a few times a week. Each of those times, you’re getting ocean water, your bodily oils (and other bodily fluids likely) on your suit. Unless you’re flushing regularly, those fluids are being held against your body by the rubber, which, in a sense, kind of ferments them. As a result, if you don’t rinse your wetsuit, all those bodily fluids are likely going to stay on the surface of the inside of your suit, and ferment even more. Over time, this can make your wetsuit smell terribly, and the more you don’t rinse it the worse it gets. Eventually, it can be so bad that it will leave the smell on your skin afterwards, which, let’s be honest, can be detrimental to your work and social life. So, just for the smell factor, it’s worth rinsing and washing your suit regularly.
  • It won’t last as long. Your wetsuit is only functional if it keeps you warm. An essential factor in maintaining that function is how well the seams are working. Once things start to tear and rip, your wetsuit will not keep water out, or hold the warm water in, and therefore, you will be colder. 

By its nature, salt water corrodes, and that includes wetsuit seams. If you use your wetsuit over and over and never rinse it, the salt will eventually start corroding the seams. That can lead to your seams eventually ripping and tearing, which, as we have discussed, will make your wetsuit essentially non-functional over time. So if you’re looking to preserve your wetsuit so it lasts for seasons, regular rinsing and washing is extremely important.

Steps to keeping your wetsuit fresh

There are a couple of things you can do to keep your wetsuit fresh and functional, so that you avoid putrid smells and tearing seams. Those include:

  • Rinsing after every session. The easiest way to make sure your wetsuit stays fresh and tear-free is to rinse it with fresh water after your session. Simply by getting off the salt, the sand, the bodily fluids (especially the warm ones) and other grime, you are preventing 99% of the nasty things that will cause a foul smell and cause corrosion. Not to mention, it won’t have those things on it the next time you put it on, which most people can agree is a good thing.
  • Now, when it comes to rinsing your suit after a session, there are a number of ways you can go about it. Let’s discuss those in detail. 

    You can, of course, wait until you get home, take it out back, and hit it with a hose. That of course requires you to pull the hose out, go out in the yard and turn the hose on, rinse it off, turn the hose off, then hang your suit.

    There are of course, some potential issues when it comes to this tactic. Some people live in apartments and don’t have outdoor hoses. Some people don’t want to walk all the way into their backyard to find the hose, turn it on, and then walk back and turn it off when they’re done - especially if the back yard is dirty or is a minefield of dog droppings. Some people don’t want to have to deal with all of this if they’re already cold. 

    There is another tactic where, if you don’t want to deal with changing out of your wetsuit at the beach, you just keep it on, and wait until you get home to take it out in the shower and wash it off there. This poses some potential issues as well. First of all, you have the whole ‘riding home in the car with your wetsuit on’ discomfort factor. Then, you have the whole ‘you get your car seat wet with your nasty wetsuit juice’ factor. Then, you have the whole ‘get sand in your shower’ factor. Sure, if you’re ok with all these things, then this may be the best tactic for you, but for people who don’t like to ride home wet and get their car wet and their shower sandy, they may need to explore other options.

    Now, as you get smarter, you may realize it is best to change out of your wetsuit at the beach, and rinse it with fresh water while you’re still in the parking lot. To do this, you’re going to need more than just a hydroflask, so you’ll probably be tempted to bring some kind of water jug - maybe like an empty gallon of milk container. That should do the trick, right?

    You’ll find that just pouring water onto your suit may not quite be enough to actually knock sand and grime off, or to get the full coverage of rinsing that you need. Holding a wetsuit up and pouring water on it definitely does not produce enough pressure to wash any legitimate amount of sand off, and you’ll waste most of the water as it just runs off straight to the ground. It may be cheap, and it may be easy, but it doesn’t really work, and just wastes a lot of water. Not the best move, if you ask us.

    We are firm believers that using a RinseKit is the best way to rinse your suit after a session. If you’re unfamiliar with RinseKit, it is a portable shower that provides portable pressurized water wherever you go. With RinseKit, you can carry 1.5 - 3.5 gallons of water in the back of your car, and spray it with 50 PSI of pressure through a 5-setting hose nozzle - so you can actually control where you spray your water, making sure you can fully cover every part of your wetsuit when cleaning it off. The pressurization also ensures that you can actually knock off all the sand and dirt. This ensures that you’re not wasting water, you actually get off the grime, and you cover every inch of your suit. In our opinion, there’s no better way to rinse your suit.

    rinsekit wetsuit washing
  • Drying your suit after every session. This pointer is a little less complex. It’s pretty simple, if you don’t dry your suit after every session, it will stay wet, it will get moldy, and inevitably, it will smell. Ultimately, you don’t want any part of the wetsuit touching any other part while it’s drying, so hanging it from a clothes hanger off the ground in a dry, shaded place is best. If you want it to dry faster you can hang it in the Sun, but be sure not to leave it for too long as it can take Sun damage which can cause cracking in the seams, and therefore eventual tears. Whatever you have to do, make sure you’re always hanging up your suit after a session, and not leaving it in a soaking pile somewhere.
  • Wash it occasionally. Believe it or not, you’re actually supposed to wash your wetsuit with a special cleaner - and not in the washing machine. There are specific wetsuit cleaning products that you should consider buying - made for neoprene specifically. The best ones to go for are typically made by wetsuit companies like O’Neill. Our suggestion is O’Neill wetsuit cleaner, which can be found on O'Neill's website. O’Neill suggests that you should wash your wetsuit with their cleaner every 3-5 uses to fully prevent smell and increase the lifespan of the suit.
  • Oil buttons and zippers every few months. Every type of metal corrodes, especially if it is constantly exposed to salt water. That’s why it’s important to, every couple months, hit your metal zippers and buttons on your wetsuit with oil or WD-40 to prevent rust and corrosion. This way, you will ensure that they won’t get stuck, won’t break, etc.

  • How Do I wash my suit?

    So we’ve established that regular washing of your suit is important to prevent foul smell and increase longevity. Now, let’s go into the proper way to wash your suit.

    1. First, fill up a bathtub or a tupperware bin with cold water. Make sure you do not use hot water as that is actually bad for your wetsuit. 
    2. Then, throw in your wetsuit and get it fully soaked in fresh, cool water.
    3. Next, take your O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner and pour a moderate amount into the water.
    4. Use the wetsuit to move around the soapy water, making sure your suit gets fully immersed in the water and the soap. 
    5. When it is fully soapy, let it sit for a few minutes.
    6. After a few minutes of soaking, pull out the suit and wash off the soapy water with fresh water.
    7. Fold it at the waist and hang it to dry in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
    8. Repeat after every 3-5 uses for maximum lifespan.

    So there you have it, our guide to taking care of your wetsuit for Winter 2021/ 2022. With these tips, you’ll ensure that your suit won’t smell, will last longer, and ultimately, will keep you warmer. If you make sure to always wash it with fresh water, hang it out after use, and wash it frequently, you will be surprised how much longer your suit will last, and how much better it will warm your body.

    wetsuit care