Is there any smell worse than a damp stinky wetsuit? Maybe, but if you’re the one trying to get into your wetsuit first thing in the morning and it smells like something died in it overnight, you'll think it’s about as bad as it gets.
Neoprene was first created in the labs at DuPont back in the 1930’s as a replacement for rubber in manufactured products. Its flexibility, durability and buoyancy led it to becoming the natural choice of material for present day wetsuits. While today’s neoprene is far advanced from its original form it can still get stinky as smells simply can’t escape. Unlike cotton, which is breathable, neoprene is not. Neoprene has thousands of tiny air bubbles in it which can trap air within the wetsuit. But, it traps more than just air, it can trap sweat and body oils. A combination of sweat, body fluids, water, salt create a nice recipe for a stinky wetsuit.
The easiest thing you can do to prevent your wetsuit from stinking is to rinse it with fresh water, after each use, and hang it to dry. All wetsuit manufacturers recommend hanging the wetsuit in half on a rack and not on a hanger from the neck. A hanger can stretch out the neck and it will take longer to dry as the water needs to travel the full length of the wetsuit. A DryRack is perfect for home, office or beach use as it allows air flow for drying and is not harmful to the neoprene. Also, hang the DryRack in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.
If your wetsuit is dry and still stinks, then you’re going to need a wetsuit shampoo & conditioner. We use a good wetsuit cleaner, rather than dish or laundry soap, as they are formulated for neoprene. Get a tub or bucket, fill with water and add the cleaner/conditioner and totally submerge the wetsuit. Make sure you get it inside and outside and thoroughly soak the suit. Then remove and rise multiple times to make sure the soap is all out. The hang to dry. You’ll be amazed, the stink will be gone. We also recommend that you do this at the end of the season for that suit. Say, Spring is here and time to put away the 4/3. Give it a good wash, rinse and dry before storing it.
Have you ever placed your wetsuit in the back of your car and forgot about it? Those of us who have done this, won’t forget that smell very easily. A damp wetsuit in a locked car for a few hours can create the most horrendous smell imaginable. This usually happens because we were going somewhere and didn’t have a chance to rinse the suit out and hang to dry.
We always recommend rinsing the wetsuit out as soon as possible after use. If you need to head somewhere or to the office, rinsing with a RinseKit and hanging on a DryRack when you get there are perfect. But what if you have errands for the next several hours? A waterproof duffle bag might be your solution. Place your wetsuit, wet towel and any other rubber inside, roll the top and connect the buckles. The wet gear in now sealed in the dry bag. Your car won’t smell and you can rinse it and dry it when you get home.
In-between shampoo & conditioning sessions, we’ve found a little Febreze Air Freshener can work wonders. Don’t soak your wetsuit as we don’t know the long-term effects, but a spritz here and there can get rid if a little stink.
Religiously rinsing and drying your wetsuit after each use is the best way to keep the stick away. If it comes, shampoo & condition, and seal it up for those long days of errands and you’ll be good!