Stop the Stink – Sanitizing your Neoprene

After several years of paddling and surfing as well as running a SUP business, I’ve become pretty good with cleaning neoprene gear both at home and on the road. Covid-19 has added extra attention to cleaning my gear.

I’ve also developed effective quick drying techniques at both at home and on the road.

Here’s some easy tips to keep your neoprene gear from stinking up your car and/or home.

Washing Neoprene Gear

After every surf session and/or paddle, I rinse off sand and seaweed then put my neoprene in a bucket full of cold water, then mix in Dawn, which is a soap that is gentle on neoprene, has a mild odor and is good for the environment.

I then swish them around in the water then let them sit an hour or so, then rinse off any soap residue and let my gear drip dry for about 1-2 hrs prior to adding heat. This dripping step speeds up overall drying time.

While hanging, I’ll squeeze the wetsuit arm and leg ends to squish out extra water.

Note: If you’re unable to clean your wetsuit of salt after a session or paddle, drying time will be much slower.

Other Cleaning Options..

Both of these are popular solutions for cleaning both wetsuits and dry suits.  Both are biodegradable.

GearAid’s ReviveX Odor Eliminator

Sink the Stink

Drying Wetsuits

After drip drying my wetsuits, I hang them on a shower rod in my downstairs bathroom, then turn on an oil based mobile heater and let them sit for a few hours or overnight.

In summer, I can dry my gear outside if sunny and hot.

Dry wetsuits inside-out first, so you can use them sooner, then reverse if you have time.
There is a fan powered hanger product you can purchase which blows air into the suit while drying in a closet. These are great for travel.
** Squeeze out water collected in the arms and legs (like milking a cow!) to speed up the drying process.

Drying Dry Suits

Same technique as above for wetsuits, but without the squeezing the arms and legs to rid out extra water.

Can Wetsuits and Dry Suits Go in the Dryer?

The seams of your wetsuit and dry suit will break down in a dryer thus causing leaks. If the suit’s seams are glued, there’s a possibility of melting the glue. 
If your seams are already broken down and/or it’s an old suit then go for it, making sure the heat doesn’t get too hot for the neoprene.  

Booties and Gloves

Since I usually need my gear the next day, I use the DryGuy forced air ski boot dryers. You can find these at REI and related stores that sell

ski gear. The dryer (see pic) has four tubes which blows hot air into your booties and gloves drying the interiors within an hour.  DryGuy has other options for drying as well.

7-9mm booties need a product like the DryGuy to dry the toes and keep stink down from the thick neoprene.
2-3mm booties can be turned inside out.
Get stiff plastic clips to hang your gloves and hoods from the shower rod.
for drying gear. Like the DryGuy it does the job in about 1-2 hours.
Alternatively you can stuff newspaper or a rag into your booties to remove moisture. A cheap version of a bootie dryer is a blow dryer but don’t leave it in the bootie as you may create another problem.
Some inventive friends are able to build a homemade DIY bootie dryers from PVC tubing and then using a fan or blow dryer. I’d burn my house down if I went that route. 🙂

Drying Gear When Traveling

Hotels / Cabins – When surfing the coast or traveling elsewhere, I carry a portable electric heater with me to warm up hotel bathrooms. Some hotels have good fans and/or heat lights but many don’t.

I also carry an extra shower curtain rod as some hotel bathtub bars curve over the floor, thus would make it a wet mess trying to drip dry gear.

I always bring my mobile fold-down DryGuy bootie and glove dryer especially in winter. Drying time is 1-2 hours.

In the car, I carry all my gear in a plastic tub with a cover to reduce odors. I’ll carry the tub into the hotel room to keep dripping down and my gear together.

Surfer’s Tip:  Stand in your rubber bucket when you remove your wetsuit and related gear. 

Drying Gear While Camping

Bring rope or use your tow line to drip dry your wetsuits. Some use clips on the line to hang booties or find a tree branch to hang those from. Place a tarp over your drying line to keep rain or coastal moisture out.

You can attempt to dry your dry or wet suit with your campfire but beware of both melting or burning your GoreTex or neoprene as well as receiving a smokey odor.

DryGuy Makes a cigarette lighter powered mobile forced air drying option. Check it out here.

PEET has a propane powered boot dryer but the reviews show that it’s very slow. If you know otherwise, let me know!

Drying gear in your car means a stinky car afterwards.  Think about venting the car and use of cedar sachets or other odor or drying


Tip:  Putting on a wet wetsuit can be difficult as your hands and feet won’t slide in easily. Instead put your foot and/or hand/arm into a plastic bag then stuff that into the suit. It’ll slide right in!

Storing Gear

To maintain that lovely clean and dry smell, I’ll throw in a few cedar chips or blocks with my booties      and gloves (inside booties).

Wetsuits are hung with thick hangers in a closet (or for me being in business, on a clothing rack) in a well insulated room. Note even dry neoprene can stink up a closet or basement. On occasion air out the room to keep it smelling normal.

Funny Story: Neoprene can smell like weed. A friend had a landlord that called him on it, thinking he had a growing operation.

Check out this link from NRS which has good info on gear drying. Click Here

Read More Posts like Stop the Stink – Sanitizing your Neoprene:
3 Bootie Drying Tips
Fixing Wetsuits
Tips on Keeping your Wetsuit Free from the Stink

About Rob Casey – Named a pioneer in the SUP industry by Stand Up Journal, Rob is the author of “Stand Up Paddling Flat Water to Surf and Rivers” and “Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips.”
Rob owns SUP, kayak and surf ski school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle. Open all year. He also runs several paddling races in places like Deception Pass.
Disclosure: This post Stop the Stink – Sanitizing your Neoprene may include affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.

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