Key factors in preventing a stinky wetsuit are:
- Rinse after each use
- Completely air dry before storing
- Shampoo & deodorize periodically
Wetsuits do not breathe like foul weather gear and technical wicking layers which dry well in the open air. Neoprene contains tiny bubbles that trap the air inside the wetsuit material (neoprene) and insulate the sailor against the elements but is completely non-breathable. This same quality that makes neoprene effective as protective-wear however also traps sweat, urine, bacteria and all kinds of things that make keeping your wetsuit odor free a constant challenge.
If your wetsuit stinks to high heaven, the smell is usually because you stored it wet after use. Wetsuits need to be air dried out completely after each use; otherwise, the water trapped inside the neoprene stagnates and becomes stinky. The smell is also the result of a normal sweat and the body oils and odors that are in that sweat. Sailing in a wetsuit produces a lot of sweat, and this gets trapped inside your wetsuit. All of the above are breeding grounds for the bacteria, which are the cause for that bad smell in your wetsuit. The other reason for the horrible odor in a wetsuit is often caused by relieving yourself in your wetsuit. Urine leaves an unpleasant smell and is very difficult to get rid of by rinsing alone.
After every use, you should rinse your suit to rid it of contaminants. To do this properly you need to take the suit off and turn it inside out. Then completely submerge it in a freshwater tub and agitate it for a few moments. A hose can be substituted, but you will need to take extra time to be sure all areas inside and out are flushed clean.
Never put a wet wetsuit away. You are almost guaranteed to end up with an unbelievably stinky suit when you take it out again. Once a suit has been rinsed, hang it inside out in a well-ventilated area. Once this side is dry turn it right side in and dry the outside of the suit. Try not to leave it in the sun, as UV exposure reduces the life of the material.
After much use or storing it wet, your wetsuit will begin to sink and you will have to properly deodorize it. The process is amazingly simple and easy, and the results are surprisingly pleasant.
There are quite a few detergents and other products on the market that claim to get rid of wetsuit stink, but few are very effective. We recommend a two-step process of shampooing using Wetsuit & Dry Suit Shampoo to clean away dirt and body oils, and then deodorizing using MiraZyme Odor Eliminator which is a product containing natural enzymes and microbes used to remove odors caused by mold, mildew, and bacteria.
To shampoo and deodorize:
- Fill two large tubs (15 – 20-gallon size) most of the way up with lukewarm water. Add the recommended amount of shampoo to the first tub and MiraZyme to the second tub.
- Turn the wetsuit inside out, and using the shampoo tub, start from the ankles (to allow air to escape from the suit) work the suit in and under the water until it is fully submerged. Agitate the suit with your hands vigorously for 2-3 minutes (be the washing machine). Now pick the suit up and allow it to completely drain.
- Using the tub with the MiraZyme in it, work the suit in and under the water. Ensure the water is fully flooding the inside of the suit. Agitate the suit for a minute, ensuring water is flowing in, and out of the suit, and that all air has escaped. Allow it to soak for 10-15 minutes, while occasionally agitating it to keep floating surfaces wetted out. After which, remove and drain the suit. Do not rinse the MiraZyme from the suit. It will do more of its deodorizing magic while the suit is hanging and air drying.