How to Clean Neoprene

Wetsuits are commonly made of Neoprene.
Wetsuits are commonly made of Neoprene. (Image: Tan Kian Khoon/iStock/Getty Images)

Knowing how to properly care for your Neoprene greatly extends its life and helps you get the most from what are often costly investments. This stretchy, synthetic rubber was first developed by DuPont in 1931 and is used in a range of athletic garments and water-resistant applications, including diving wetsuits. Common contaminants including sweat, chlorine, oils and salts hasten its deterioration over time. Learning how to clean and store your Neoprene gear ensures you enjoy it for many years to come.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh water
  • Wetsuit shampoo, mild laundry detergent or baby shampoo
  • Clothes hanger
  • Bathtub or vessel large enough to hold the garment
  • Detachable shower head or garden hose
  • Large towel

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Washing Neoprene

Step 1

Rinse the garment under running water for several minutes or submerge larger items, such as a wetsuit, in a tub of water. If using the tub method, change the water several times to ensure a thorough rinse.

Step 2

Take a generous amount of wetsuit shampoo specially formulated for Neoprene, baby shampoo or mild laundry detergent and work it into the fabric. Alternatively, create soapy water by filling a tub with detergent and fresh water. Hand-wash the garment by gently squeezing it for several minutes to remove any surface contaminants.

Step 3

Direct water from either a garden hose or detachable shower head onto the Neoprene garment to remove all detergent or submerge the garment in several changes of fresh water. Repeat until the water runs clear and is absent of suds.

Drying and Storing Neoprene

Step 1

Squeeze as much water as possible from the garment. Turn the item inside out to decrease its exposure to damaging UV rays. Using a wide hanger, drape the item in a way that will minimize creases; alternately, dry the garment flat on a large towel.

Step 2

Dry the garment completely, away from sunlight, until it is no longer damp. Avoid hanging larger items by the shoulders, as this causes stretching and permanent creasing. Large neoprene items can take a day or two to thoroughly dry.

Step 3

Store dry items away from sunlight, preferably inside out, in a dark bag or drawer. Check your Neoprene periodically to inspect for any damage, mildew or "off" smells.

Tip

  • If you're unable to wash Neoprene immediately after use, rinse it in fresh water and thoroughly wash it as soon as you can.

Warning

  • Do not allow Neoprene to remain wet for too long, as mildew can form.

    Neoprene can snag and tear easily -- avoid sharp objects when wearing it.

    Oils on the surface of Neoprene cause it to degrade faster and are to be avoided.

References

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