Getting a new wetsuit is exciting! Like, really, really exciting. You can imagine all the stuff you are going to do, all the personal bests you are going to beat and, of course, how great it looks on you. That triathlon wetsuit is going to be your best friend, hopefully for more than a few seasons to come. To make it last, though, there are a few guidelines you need to follow to make sure that your wetsuit lives a long and healthy life.
- Wetsuits are mostly made of neoprene which is basically made of small cells of rubber that are filled with air, helping trap the heat in and keep you buoyant.
- The thicker your wetsuit, the warmer it will be.
- Good wetsuits have their seams glued in so they are reinforced especially in areas where there is high stress.
- The zippers have pull strings which are really easy to get tangled which makes it really easy for the zippers to rip out from the bottom.
So how should you take care of your brand new wetsuit? We’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to make sure you get the most out of your triathlon wetsuit.
- Don’t Use a Washing Machine
The number of people that forget to read the manufacturer’s instructions and simply dump their wetsuits in the washing machine astonish us! It’s a great way to make sure your zipper tags get tangled and stress the rest of the suit out, especially during the spin cycle. And let’s not even get started on what a hot water cycle can do to the glue on the seams!
This brings us to another point: NO DRIERS of any kind, not even a hair drier to dry those tough bits. Heat can really wreak havoc on the neoprene and make your wetsuit brittle. It bursts those lovely insulating air bubbles and gets rid of any stretchiness making the suit shrink. Basically, it’ll force you to kiss that lovely wetsuit goodbye.
- Wash Your Suit Right
Just because you can’t put it in the washing machine, doesn’t mean you can’t clean it. In fact you must. Salt water and chlorine can be really harsh on wetsuits.
Wash your wetsuit by hand in fresh water after every swim. You can use a garden hose or just let it soak in the bathtub for about 20 minutes. An easy way to do this is to stand under the shower for a while before taking it off. Turn it inside out and rinse again. Don’t use any detergents or bleach – that can really damage your wetsuit. Instead we suggest using a wetsuit shampoo every five to ten uses, or more often if you swim in salt or chlorine water. MyraZyme from Gear Aid is a great addition to that water bath if your wetsuit has become a bit smelly.
- Dry Your Wetsuit Thoroughly
Hang your wetsuit to dry inside out first. Getting the inside dry first makes it easier to put on the next time you have to get into it. Especially if you’re swimming again the next day! Once the inside is dry, turn it the right way around and leave till it dries thoroughly. Hang the wetsuit over a thick rod to dry.
As mentioned earlier, heat is not your wetsuit’s friend so DON’T dry it in the sun.
- Cool, Dry Storage
Store your wetsuit like you would your medicines; in a cool, dark and dry place. Your wetsuit should never be stored hung up. If you have ever hung a sweater on a hanger for any length of time, you know what it does to the shoulders. Wetsuits are a lot heavier than that and it will stretch the suit out. If you choose to hang it up on a thick plastic or wooden hanger to dry instead of laying it over a thick rod or your bathtub, be sure to remove it after no more than a few days. You must fold it for storage, laying it flat, fold it behind the knees and then in half.
Here’s a handy diagram we found that shows you how to pack it while travelling:
- Don’t Put It on in a Rush!
This is the one time you have to be really careful. Putting on a wetsuit is when the most damage can occur. Take your time while sliding it on and make sure you’re not wearing any watches, rings or jewelry that can tear the wetsuit. Similarly, with your nails, it helps if you keep them short and blunt or else be extremely careful. Always use the pads of your fingers to grab the suit, never the nails.
If you can, ask a buddy to zip it up for you. If you are putting it on by yourself, hold the bottom of the zipper carefully with one hand while pulling it up slowly with the other. Be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together to reduce the size of your ribcage. If you need to use a lubricant, avoid petroleum based ones as they can damage your suit.
Oh! And do your warm up stretching before you get into the wetsuit. That way you avoid bending it into shapes that will really stretch its seams.
- Repair Damage Immediately!
Repair any small cuts and nicks immediately! They can (and will!) get larger over time. Small tears are easy to fix at home with a good wetsuit sealant.
This rule needn’t be followed as strictly as all the ones above, but we strongly suggest you avoid lending your wetsuit to anyone else, unless they’re an identical twin, of course! Your wetsuit will have conformed to your shape and size after a few uses and lending it to someone else can cause it to stretch.
These few simple guidelines will make your wetsuit last for quite a while. So get out there and beat that personal best! If you do need a new triathlon wetsuit though, we will be happy to help. Call us at 1-877-784-7808 or email us at email@example.com.