Washing the Neoprene
October 6, 2010 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Can I wash a neoprene wetsuit in a washing machine?

Mr Jane has a wetsuit that he wears twice a year to take the boatlift in and out of the chilly Northwoods lake. This year, he got it thoroughly slimed. Since it hasn't been washed in the 5 years he's had it, I thought now would be a good time. The internets have recommended just sloshing it around in a tub with some gentle soap and rinsing, rinsing, rinsing.. which seems to me, what the washing machine does. Or is the machine too aggressive?

Yes, I do know, no dryer.
posted by sarajane to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
I would never wash any of my suits in the washer. That is, I wouldn't agitate them. I would (and do), however, use the soak feature on the washer. I agitate with my hands, spin it out, and fill it back up to rinse. Rinse twice if necessary.

If the suit is really nasty, lake scum and what not, I hose it off outside first.
posted by peachfuzz at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2010

It might be okay if there's a "super-gentle" or "hand wash" mode.

As for soap, I think washing machine detergent might be too abrasive for most wetsuits. If any soap, it would need to be super-mild. It's just not meant for that if there are adhesives used in the making of the suit.

Most wetsuits have heavy branding on them, I would defer to the wetsuit manufacturer's website for care instructions.

If it were me, I'd hang it up in my shower and use something like Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap and make a nice long shower of it. I think the agitation of a washing machine is just not good for a wetsuit, additionally, I'd think it would be tough on the machine unbalancing-it-wise.
posted by artlung at 10:43 AM on October 6, 2010

Oh hell no, don't use a washer. Hose it off outside, and gently hand wash it with a gentle detergent.

It's not that you'll harm the fabric. You may harm the seals between the panels. And then its worth as a wetsuit is compromised.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:48 AM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok then.. thanks all.
Looks like we have a weekend project.
(Clearly, we are not serious wetsuit users)
posted by sarajane at 11:36 AM on October 6, 2010

There is soap that is sold for washing wetsuits. (I've never noticed that it made any difference, though.) I soak mine in the bathtub.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:33 PM on October 6, 2010

Stinky Pete's Wetsuit Soap has an awesome name.
posted by artlung at 8:20 AM on October 7, 2010

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