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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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