Keeping Your Wetsuit Clean
Whether you're preparing for a Key West dive or looking to store your scuba equipment for a while, it's important to keep your wetsuit clean to avoid strong odors, bacteria and rot. Luckily, cleaning a wetsuit can be a rather simple process as long as you do it properly.
Rinse as Soon as You're Done with a Dive
Right as you get done with a dive and remove your wetsuit, it's a good idea to rinse it off thoroughly inside and out to get rid of salt, sand and other grime. The longer they stay on your wetsuit, the harder it is to get out. Salt and sand can easily start deteriorating a wetsuit, especially when it starts drying. Use cool fresh water to rinse your wetsuit. Do not use sea water. Gently wipe any stubborn materials from the wetsuit, but don't rub it with your hands or scrub it with a brush or Brillo pad. This will quickly and easily remove the coating from the wetsuit and may cause damage to the seams.
When it Comes to Drying, Avoid Heat
A very common and harmful mistake a lot of divers make when drying off their wetsuit is leaving it out in the sunlight or putting it in the dryer. Heat will quickly and drastically deteriorate a wetsuit, and UV rays cause further damage and discoloration to wetsuits. It's best to choose a fairly dark and cool location for it to hang in until it's dry. Hang it up properly inside out in your garage or in your shower. If you have no choice but to hang it outside, ensure that it's in a cool place with plenty of shade.
If there's still grime on your suit that you either missed or couldn't remove, a gentle washing with a very mild soap or shampoo will probably do the trick. Do not put your wetsuit in a washing machine or use other detergents to wash your wetsuit. It will only result in damage.
Getting Rid of the Stink
It's very possible that your wetsuit may start to stink because of mildew, grime, sweat or even urine, and the smell may not go away easily from a simple rinsing. If you have a smelly wetsuit, place it in a tub of warm water. Remember, heat is not your friend when it comes to wetsuits even if it's hot water. Warm to cool water should be used. Some people find that mouthwash is effective in both killing bacteria and getting rid of odors in wetsuits. Mouthwash also has a very pleasant minty smell that could mask residual odors.
Keeping your wetsuit clean is a simple task as long as you address it as soon as possible. Set-in stains, grime and mildew are difficult to remove, but they're easy to avoid with proper cleaning. If you're planning a Key West dive in the future, remember to clean your wetsuit immediately after your dive to ensure that it stays in proper diving condition.