How Do I Clean A Smelly Wetsuit?

by Doc Vikingo
This article first appeared in Rodale's Ask RSD, October 1999

This periodic task contributes much to the comfort of the diver and his companions. There are a number of ways of accomplishing this, but none should be attempted until insuring that they are consistent with the manufacturer's cleaning instructions.

As well as regular cleaning/deodorizing, some preventative measures will help keep odors down. These include limiting the "warming" of your suit, removal after each dive to avoid absorption of perspiration, and rinsing well in warm water and hanging out to dry after each day of diving.

The best cleaning/deodorizing results will be obtained by soaking the suit in an enzyme-based cleaner such as "Odor Be Gone" or "Sink The Stink." These are available through many dive shops and online. The suit should be soaked in one of these for a number of hours, and preferably overnight, then removed and allowed to dry.

While not as effective, cleaning can also be done by washing with Woolite, agitating either by hand or placing in a front loading washing machine with at least a "gentle" and preferably a "hand wash" setting. A top loader set at "normal" could rip stitching. The temperature setting should be on warm, not hot. Add a small amount of liquid fabric softener to the rinse cycle.

Whatever you do, don't put the suit into a machine dryer. Rather, gently squeeze the water out by hand, taking care to avoid pulling on stitched areas.

With the suit still moist from the rinse, mist completely with "Febreeze," available at grocery stores, and dry by hanging outside, avoiding direct sunlight, or in a drying space in your basement or the like. The suit should be stored on a wide shouldered hanger and in a place which is cool, out of direct sunlight and well-ventilated.

© Doc Vikingo 1999


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