Yes, you can wash, rinse and even spin a wetsuit in a washing machine. Ensure you only use cold or lukewarm water to avoid damaging the wetsuit’s material and seams and be aware a washing machine can slightly reduce the lifespan of your wetsuit.
It’s always a chore to rinse your wetsuit by hand, after an exhausting surf all you want to do is relax but the thought of pumping your sandy wetsuit up and down in a bucket of freezing water is far from relaxing.
What if there was a way to save ourselves, why aren’t we all throwing our wetsuits straight in the washing machine and leaving these ancient washing techniques to our ancestors?
Well, the answers are more complex than you think and uncovering the do’s and don’ts of washing your wetsuit in the washing machine is tricky.
So if you’re staring at the washing machine scratching your head thinking have I been doing it wrong this whole time, continue reading to find out the facts and fiction about putting your wetsuit in the washing machine.
Washing your wetsuit in the washing machine
Putting your wetsuit on a full wash should only be reserved for heavily soiled or particularly smelly suits. With a standard wash anywhere between 1 – 3 hours, it’s really overkilling it for most situations.
If you do put your wetsuit on a full wash ensure it is either cold or lukewarm. Most washing machines will let you amend temperatures for each wash if not you will need to use a cold wash setting.
Do not use fabric conditioners or excessive washing detergents as this can affect the seams of your wetsuit and reduce their flexibility and lifespan.
If you’re washing your wetsuit to remove unpleasant smells like urine, try leaving it to soak in a bucket of water with 500ml of cheap mouthwash.
The smell in your wetsuit is normally caused by bacteria (damp wetsuits are fantastic breeding grounds for bacteria) and mouthwashes’ antibacterial properties actually remove the smell rather than just masking it.
It’s important to note that washing your wetsuit will decrease the lifespan of your wetsuit, especially if you wash your suit for extended periods of time regularly.
Rinsing your wetsuit in the washing machine
Rinsing is a much better everyday option than washing. Most rinses are 10 minutes or so and this is perfect for rinsing off any salt and sand that remains from your last session.
Unlike washing your suit a quick rinse won’t put prolonged stress on your suit and will cause much less damage in the long run. Wetsuits are made from Neoprene which is a flexible but delicate material.
Most washing machines will always rinse on a cold setting but always check before using a new washing machine.
Spinning your wetsuit in the washing machine
I’m guilty of spinning my suit every now and then. You can rinse and spin to avoid virtually any hard work involved with getting your wetsuit ready for the next surf.
Spinning your wetsuit puts the most stress on it in terms of pure g’s, the drum of the washing machine rotates at quite a speed to pull water away from your wetsuit.
If you’re going to spin your wetsuit make sure you use the slowest setting available.
Try to avoid spinning your wetsuit whenever possible and just sacrifice the extra time to let it dry naturally.
Drying your wetsuit in the washing machine
Never use your washing machine’s dryer setting or a tumble dryer to dry your wetsuit. The heat used will damage the neoprene your suit is composed of and in some cases melt the seams that attach different areas of your suit.
The pros and cons of using a washing machine for your wetsuit
Let’s way up the good the bad and the ugly of chucking your wetsuit in the spinner.
- Saves on effort
- Gets all the salt and sand off
- Spinning halves drying times
- Detergent leaves it smelling like flowers
- Reduces a wetsuits lifespan
- Wastes water
- Sand in the washing machine
- Have to remember to go back to remove it
Can you tumble dry a wetsuit?
No, tumble drying will use heat to dry the wetsuit which can damage the seams, lining and material of your wetsuit. If you need to dry your suit quickly use your washing machine’s spin function to remove excess water before hanging it to dry.
Are there any other ways to speed up the wetsuit drying process?
If you’re short on time and are planning an early morning surf the following day the thought of peeling on a wet, saturated wetsuit is far from pleasant.
To significantly reduce the drying time of your wetsuit lay it gently on a towel with the ankle cuffs at your feet and place another towel directly over your suit.
Starting at the bottom begin to tightly roll the two towels up with your wetsuit in between. The pressure will transfer any excess water away from your wetsuit’s neoprene and onto the towels.
Hey presto, leave the wetsuit to air dry overnight and while the wetsuit probably won’t be completely dry by morning there should just be some minimal moisture in the wrist and ankle cuffs.
If you surf regularly and replace your suit on an annual basis then using a washing machine may be a necessary evil. Sometimes you’re in a rush and sometimes you’re lazy but generally speaking, a year’s worth of rinses won’t cause any major damage to a wetsuit’s seems or materials.
If you’re planning to keep your suit for several consecutive years then you should avoid using a washing machine wherever possible. Sticking to traditional rinsing by hand as quickly as you leave the ocean is the best way to prolong the life of your wetsuit in the long run.