Caring for your wetsuit and general wetty maintenance
August 18, 2021 7 min read
Here are Adreno Freediving we think there are two main goals relating to looking after your wetsuit properly: longer life for your wetsuit and prolonged stretch. Lucky for us this is a two bird-one stone scenario. The most common forms of degradation we encounter are due to UV exposure, incomplete drying, incorrect storage and general negligence, almost all of which are rooted in laziness but I'm not pointing fingers, there are few things more tedious than trying to hang up a wetsuit after 6 hours of paddling....
Ultra Violet light can be your friend... "can".
In-store, after selling a wetsuit, I always run through my maintenance spiel, the first line of which is "the sun is the biggest killer" and I usually get a funny look, perhaps because I sold them a product to be used solely under sunlight and I've told them sunlight is the biggest destroyer: perfect obsolescence? NO! I'm talking about leaving it on the clothesline or in your wagon's boot. If you leave your wetty on your clothesline for 3 days that's roughly the same exposure you could expect from 20-30 even 40 sessions!! When high-performance suits aim to test well after 100 sessions you realise the gravity of UV exposure. With this in mind, we must consider how to limit UV and there are two options: the first being to keep your suit in the shade, dry it under the house our in your bathroom. Second is to turn it inside-out before hanging in the sun. If you've denied yourself a subterranean wetsuit storage facility then I suggest hanging it in the bathroom until the wetsuit is no longer dripping, then chuck it by a window because air dries quicker than heat! Count your blessings that winter means low equinox, therefore, less UV! Imagine if you had a to wear a wetty in the height of summer, tucked under our ever changing Ozone hole.
Hanging your wetty inside out is the right way forward.
If you're going to hang your wetty in the sun there are a bunch of advantages to inverting it. Turning it inside out will 'balance' the UV exposure because the exterior, which is exposed during surfing, will now be tucked nicely out of harm's way. Another huge advantage to this is that Ultra-Violet has antibacterial properties, therefore, reducing stink and the chance of rash/infection. This isn't the be all and end all of the antibacterial treatment, regrettably, Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation only occurs within the UV-C spectrum, of which the Ozone layer takes care of 99-100% of :( That's not to say the less effective UV-A and UV-B wavelengths completely lack antibacterial properties. According to the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, antibacterial properties exist within wavelengths of 328-210nm. UV-B is between 320 and 280 so there is most certainly some form of antibacterial qualities in the sunlight that lands on earth's surface, especially down in the southern hemisphere, where the Ozone is sparse. As a side note: broad-spectrum sunscreen covers the UV-A and UV-B spectrum.
Friends wreck suits too!
Not because they're careless but because they don't have the same body shape as you. That means they're deforming it away from your body shape, therefore, decreasing the quality of your fit.
Wetty warmers are no laughing matter.
We've all peed in our suit, maybe, it feels great.. The reason, maybe, is that it warms you up, and to a degree this is true, however this action ends up making you colder! This happens because you've introduced warm water into your wetsuit, this makes your body think it's in a warm environment and will move more blood towards the skin, where it can be kept warm by the atmosphere, not thermogenesis (burning energy/fat to create heat). This action counteracts what's called vasoconstriction which occurs in cold (constriction of your vessels to limit blood flow to the skin). The problem arises because the warm pee water will begin to cool and as it does it will rob that lovely surface blood of all it's warmth, in turn making you colder than if you'd never peed yourself.
There has, for a long time, been an argument that pee wrecks your wetsuit. I've even heard that leaving your wetsuit in a bucket of wee turns the suit rigid. Unfortunately, there's no actual research here, maybe, and when I say actual I mean pee-reviewed journals. All we know is that peeing in your suit will make you colder in the long run and expose your skin to nasty bacteria that can result in a severe skin reaction called Wetsuit Pox- especially if you're in a non-lined suit! Each little transected bubble can act as a cosy nookie for bacteria to grow. If you gotta pee in your suit, and I know some of us must, make sure you clean your suit with a proper wetsuit wash, the sun isn't enough nor is just water. Water barely gets through the salt, let alone micro critters actively trying to avoid eviction.
What about Sharks? Well, Pee is called urine, perhaps because its fullo of urea - urea happens to be excreted by fish and is present under their scales, so maybe there's some truth to it - all we know for sure if you should get a shark deterrent and never worry about sharks again.
Roll, don't Fold.
The nature of neoprene allows for compression because of the countless air bubbles inside the core material. By folding your wetsuit you create pressure points along the creases which, in turn, permanently deform the suit in a way that makes those crease points permanently thin and ineffective at insulating. Don't fold your suit!
Lazyness is a rich man's game.
Yep, we've all got a streak of laziness but do yourself a favour and don't leave your wetsuit rotting in it's own filth inside your car. As a lazy [and broke] person myself I'm always weighing up my time, ensuring I need to do as little as possible. So if you're like me, maybe this abstraction will sink in... You could save two minutes by leaving your wetty in your car but think about how many hours you need to work to buy a new suit? A new suit is, let's say $350 bucks, at $25/hr you have to work 14 hrs to save the money to buy said suit. That's 840 minutes of WORK. If your suit lasts you 200 session that's 400 minutes total hanging time per suit. Hang up your suit, save yourself 7.5 hours of work per suit..
Wetsuit Wash is your saviour.
Pong is inevitable, even if your wetstuit has not a single bacterial resident, because your body constantly excretes sweat, oil and other skin-based material, all of which stink. You'd be surprised how much you can sweat inside your wetsuit, even if it's bone-chilling in the water! The eponymous Wetsuit Wash is the best solution we've found as it ticks all the boxes, Australian made too! There are a few options that include Mirazyme but it just takes care of the smell. A decent wetsuit wash is one that kills bacteria, breaks down salt and chlorine without punishing the skin. Run a tiny bit of cleaner [in the case of Wetsuit Wash 300 parts water to 1 part wash] in lukewarm water. Gentle kneading followed by a fresh-water rinse and you're good! There is absolutely nothing else that you need to do in order to keep your wetsuit clean. I use mine every few sessions, usually when my suit begins to stink, but in saying that I take maintenance very seriously and wash everything every time I use it. As a result, I'm warmer, my wetsuit is stretchier and my pocket padded.
You might notice Wetsuit Wash is now blue! This is our new and improved formula!
Shop our range of specialised Wetsuit Hangers!
A good hanger is key! The wider the better. Consider your wet/damp wetsuit and the additional weight. This is a result of the external jerseys [typically nylon/lycra] holding water. By using a wide hanger you're distributing the weight across a greater area of the wetsuit. That means less deformation around the hanger. If you consistently hang your wetsuit on a wire hanger you'll end up with deformations along your shoulder where there is no longer any rubber, just the external lining. Your wetty then brings water in through those shoulders and you're gonna need a new suit. The best option is the Problue Wetsuit Hanger for ten bucks.
Standard Wetsuit Hanger - $9.95
Gravel, sand and wetsuit changing bags.
Until my first full-body smoothie-skin wetsuit I never realised how brutal the changing process can be on a suit! The carpark's gravel and sand made light work of the skin which over time proceeded to deteriorate, starting from where I'd stomped on it. If you've got great balance one can achieve minimal damage but the best way to go about is it get changed on your towel or better yet a wetty changing bag!
Fingernails wreck wetsuits.
Tears and how to repair them is an unavoidable aspect to wetsuit use. In 10 years of putting people into wetsuits the most common damage inflicted is due to fingernail tears. When you grab a handful of rubber, usually when you're pulling your suit up, your nails end up jamming into the suit. If you've even the slightest nails you can easily tear through your wetty. It's not the most difficult repair but a repair nonetheless. This is a very important consideration because it is not covered under warranty. A dab of wetsuit glue is all you need, and perhaps something we should charge for! If the cut has gone all the way through than I'd suggest using a patch [you may recall when you purchased your wetsuit it came with a little square of neoprene attached to your zipper].
Picasso Glue - neoprene's saviour.
This stuff is glorious! For any wetsuit repair, be it a tear, gouge, delamination or seam separation you're sorted. It's got a lot of stretch so it barely inhibits the wetsuit's performance. You can easily fix fingernail tears with this glue, I've done it countless times instore and on my own wetsuits. Get some glue here.