Ice on the water is a big tell that the water temp is no longer swimmable. If the water is too cold to swim in, even with a wetsuit, it is probably best to store the wetsuit until next season. A wetsuit can last many seasons if it is properly cared for, so there is no need to worry about damaging it by storing it properly.
Clean Your Wetsuit
It’s always advisable to clean your wetsuit before storing it so it’s not a breeding ground for bacteria or mold. You want to make sure the suit is inside out for washing as the liner is where all that nasty stuff we can’t see lives/breeds.
But how should you wash your wetsuit? GearAid makes a fantastic wetsuit/drysuit shampoo you can use to soak your wetsuit in. First, make a bath for your wetsuit and add a small amount of shampoo. You can soak it for 10 minutes or a few hours, but if it has a lot of leftover debris (sand, mud, muck) you will want to periodically agitate the water/wetsuit with your hand to help loosen any of this from your wetsuit.
If you made the mistake of forgetting about your wetsuit balled up wet after your last open water swim and it stinks something awful, you may also want to add some myrazime (also made by GearAid) to the bath water. Once you feel it’s sufficiently clean, remove it from the bath and rinse it thoroughly with clean fresh water. You can hang it on a hanger or throw it over the side of your shower stall/bathtub to dry. Once dry, do not hang your wetsuit up for storage!
You should never hang your wetsuit up for longer than a few hours as it is bad for the overall shape and the material. Picture it this way — have you ever looked at a sweater stored on a hanger? Those shoulder “boobs” appear where the end of the hanger hits the material. The weight of the sweater is heavy and that pulls on the material in the shoulders, breaking down its integrity. It stands to reason the same thing occurs to your wetsuit, only it’s much heavier than a sweater.
So How Do You Store Your Wetsuit?
After your suit is dry, turn it back right-side out. Fold the legs up to the shoulders (if it’s full-sleeve fold the arms in as well), and then fold it in half again so you are left looking at the neck, chest, and upper belly of the wetsuit with the extremities tucked inside. Store it folded up like this somewhere dry and away from extreme temperatures like under your bed or in a closet. Your attic, garage, or the trunk of your car is not a good option due to the extreme temperature changes. Properly cleaning and storing your wetsuit will ensure it will be ready to use when the ice is gone and the weather is warm!