Do Wetsuits Deteriorate?

Do Wetsuits Deteriorate?

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Wetsuits provide you with flexibility and warmth underwater. But they can only do so if in perfect working conditions.

Do wetsuits deteriorate? This is a valid question despite the wetsuits’ reputation for being long-lasting.

Wetsuits deteriorate through time and regular use. But there are other determining factors in keeping their integrity too.

In this article, we’ll list the factors that can damage your wetsuit. You can use this relevant information to keep your suit looking its best for much longer.

Read on!

Do Wetsuits Deteriorate?

Most wetsuits are made of neoprene. This synthetic rubber has outstanding properties like elasticity and high tensile strength.

Besides that, they also have exceptional resistance against the following:

  • Heat
  • Oil
  • Sunlight
  • Flame
  • Chemicals
  • Ozone

Take note, however, that there are other components in wetsuits. That includes nylon, polyester, and other natural rubber that can come in various combinations. The differences in component percentage spell out the disparity in performance.

Therefore, remember that a higher-quality wetsuit will be less prone to deterioration. So, investing in one is beneficial.

Even so, all kinds of suits experience regular wear and tear and will age through time.

Factors that Affect Wetsuit Deterioration

Wetsuits are designed to fit snugly into the body, hence their stretchability. The good thing is they snap right back to their original shapes once you take them off.

Or so you think. The truth is, a wetsuit loses a little of its flexibility every time it’s stretched. However, this change is so subtle, you’ll hardly notice it.

Nevertheless, the difference in flexibility will be evident in the future. Even if you exert the same effort as you normally would, there will come a time when it’ll become stiff. Worse, it will tear and create holes in your wetsuit.

With these thoughts in mind, know that caring for your wetsuit starts with how you wear it. Slowly get into your gear to avoid stretching it too much.

On top of that, other factors can deteriorate your wetsuit.

1.   Sunlight

Never leave your wetsuit in direct sunlight. Because if you do, the neoprene will be exposed to UV light and may deteriorate.

UV light can break down molecular chains in the fabric. These chemical changes will show in the wetsuit’s physical characteristics.

You may observe a loss of flexibility and strength. Also, the color may fade much faster with continued exposure.

Hang your wetsuit in the shade after thorough rinsing to prevent this from happening.

2.   Heat

Heat is another factor that can damage your wetsuit. This can shrink your suit or make it less elastic.

For these reasons, you should never put it in the dryer or hot areas. Similarly, ironing isn’t an option.

The best you can do to speed up drying is to direct a fan toward your suit upon hanging.

3.   Salt, Minerals, and Bacteria

Your wetsuit is bound to grab onto a few things whether you dive in the pool, ocean, or freshwater. That includes salt, minerals, and bacteria.

You won’t spot these unwanted materials easily and your wetsuit may even seem clean. But you should always rinse your suit with fresh water after every dive.

Among these, salt has one of the worst effects on your wetsuit. That’s why you should never allow saltwater to sit on your gear for too long.

Salt crystals will eventually form as the water evaporates. These will create cracks when trapped in the fibers of your clothing. As such, more water can penetrate your wetsuit.

Still, there’s something worse than salt—chlorine. After diving into a pool, flush out the water immediately and thoroughly. Use wetsuit shampoo to aid you in this activity.

This is essential since chlorine can make your suit lose its flexibility and color much faster. Some wetsuits are even made with additional polyester lining to counter these effects.

Bacteria is another damaging factor that can be caught while on a dive. This can create unwanted odors you’ll want to eliminate early on. The longer the odor sticks to your suit, the more difficult it’ll be to remove.

4.   Aftercare Practices

How you handle your wetsuit after a dive can cause damage.

First, make it a habit to wash wetsuits immediately after a dive using fresh water. You can do this by soaking in a tub or running it down with water using a hose.

Occasionally, use wetsuit shampoo or mild baby shampoo to remove unwanted odors or buildups. Never use regular detergents since these are harsh chemicals that can ruin the fabric.

Second, hang it properly. Wide hangers will be perfect for the job. If that’s not available, find a smooth surface like a sturdy pole or bar.

Hang your suit by the waist, so it’s balanced on both sides. That way, you don’t put a strain on other parts of it.

Take, for example, hanging the suit by the sleeves. Those portions will suffer from too much weight. This can lead to overstretching, thinning, or uneven thickness.

Wearing your suit under such conditions can cause discomfort. After all, you need your suit tight enough to be effective. A loose wetsuit will allow more water to come in. Hence, it’ll be harder for the body to keep warm.

Third, store your wetsuit properly. But before that, make sure it’s completely dry. Otherwise, you’ll find it smelly after a while, which can indicate molds or mildew.

Once your wetsuit is completely air-dried, hang it on a wide hanger and place it in storage. If you have enough space, you can also lay it down nicely or fold it in half.

Moreover, don’t wrinkle, fit, or throw your suit wherever there’s space. This can give unnecessary stress, which can damage the fabric.

Wrapping Up

Do wetsuits deteriorate?

Wetsuits deteriorate just like all pieces of clothing. Exposure to different diving conditions and washing habits contribute to regular wear and tear.

Nevertheless, you can slow down the deterioration by observing a few practices. That includes preventing exposure to heat and sunlight, coupled with proper washing, hanging, and storage.

Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson, a scuba diving enthusiast from San Diego, has spent over a decade exploring the underwater world across the globe. Sharing his passion through captivating stories and informative articles, Jack aims to inspire others to embark on their own scuba diving adventures and uncover the ocean's hidden treasures. Follow Jack on Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Facebook or email him at

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