Is it so bad if I wash my 5 mm wetsuit in a washing machine?

I perfectly know that it's not good. What I'd really like to know is: will it reduce my wetsuit life expectation from 10 years to 5 years (good for me), or from 10 years to just 1 year (bad for me)?

Long story: for a few months, I've been doing a terrible thing: washing my wetsuit in a washing machine and then putting it in the dryer. I've done so because I've been suggested by a person that I though was an expert.

The result? My wetsuit now is no longer as adherent as it was, and now cold water enters while diving. My bad. Lesson learned.

I'm almost sure that what damaged my wetsuit so quickly is the dryer, so I won't use it again. However, given that using a washer machine is sooo fast, comfortable, clean and hygienic, is it that bad if I continue to use it? (With cold or warm water.)

Is that bad if I use the washer machine every week? (I do not like wearing dirty clothes.)

Also: I do not have a room in my house where to put my wetsuit to dry far away from the sun (I do not want to wet the floor). Is it that bad if I put my wetsuit to dry in the sun?

  • Washing a wetsuit every week?? I know it's good to stay hydrated, but... Drying in the sun isn't good for it - UV radiation damages rubber quite quickly.
    – Gaius
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 16:11

4 Answers 4


Wetsuits should not really be washed in the washingmachine and definitely not dried in the drier. I'm selling wetsuits and this is one of the biggest NO NO -s that you really have to stick to.

The tumbling of the wetsuit will damage the materials and stitchings, especially with thick ones. And it will be really bad with taped seams, which will become loose and will start leaking water.

Wetsuits in general don't require heavy maintenance, and they definitely don't need washing every week, it's more than enough to clean them once a season with a neoprene cleaning solution like "Piss Off" or something similar. Or get a sanitized wetsuite, which keeps the smell away (it has antibacterial materials inside). Field test shows that even after a week in a wetsuit bag in trunk - still smelled like fresh (you really shouldn't try that at home).

And yes, sun will kill the neoprene too, as it really doesn't like the UV, which again makes the materials weak and not so nice looking.

Here are some further tips on how to take care of your wetsuits and what to do with them http://360guide.info/wetsuits/wetsuit-care-13-tips.html


Never wash your wetsuit in a washing machine!

Here is a great article that will help and outlines each step - https://www.quiksilver.com.au/wetsuit-care-guide

  1. Stay clear of sharp objects (as best you can).
  2. Rinse your wetsuit.
  3. Turn it inside out and have another go.
  4. Hang up your freshly rinsed wetsuit inside out to dry in the shade.
  5. After it’s been drying for a while, turn it inside out and give the other side a chance to dry too.
  6. Once in a while give your wetsuit a thorough wash with some wetsuit shampoo.

I'm uncertain about the life expectancy when washing your wetsuit in the washer but I'd say that it wouldn't be anything to worry about. In your case, it's safe to say that the dryer was what caused the damage. Washing the wetsuit with cold water on a gentle cycle (less than average amount of soap) shouldn't cause any noticeable issues with the wetsuit. Hang it to dry somewhere (bedroom, shower, etc) but don't leave it in the sun to dry or dry it in the dryer.


Much of this is bad advice, in my experience. This is how I dry my wetsuit (for many years, and it lasts and lasts):

  1. Don't leave it in the sun, full stop.
  • If you must, only inside out, otherwise you are adding multiple sessions to its demise.
  1. Change/rinse out the sand before going home.
  2. Rinse and spin the suit in the washer (inside out).
  3. Put the suit in the tumble dryer on Warm, not Hot.

You will have zero added UV damage to the suit and zero heat damage (left in the sun, the suit of course will get much hotter than a dryer on Warm cycle. And you will have a dry, mould and bacteria-free wetsuit for every surf!

Note: If you have an ancient dryer that doesn't have a Warm setting, then don't use it!

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