Caring for Drysuits
Take care of your drysuit and it'll take care of you. Proper cleaning, storage and transport techniques help protect and prolong the lives of the gaskets and zippers.
Cleaning Your Drysuit
- Wash your drysuit after every use to remove skin oils and chemicals (like sunblock and insect repellent) from the gaskets. It is especially important to wash the suit after using it in salt water, as salt residues will degrade the latex.
- Never wash a drysuit in a washing machine or dry it in a clothes dryer. Do not dry clean. Any of these can severely damage the zippers and/or gaskets.
- Drysuits should be washed only by hand in warm water. A bathtub or washtub works best. Use gentle soap, not harsh detergent. Surface dirt that can not be removed by wiping with your hands can be dislodged with a sponge or a soft-bristle brush.
- The inside and outside of a drysuit must be washed in separate steps. Wash the outside first, then turn it inside-out and do the inside.
- Open all zippers and use a soft brush to remove any grit from the teeth.
- Hang the inside-out drysuit on a suit-hanger to dry indoors. Do not use a wire hanger, and don't hang it outside where it will be exposed to sunlight.
- When the inside is completely dry, turn it rightside-out and allow the outside to air dry.
- Do not use a clothes iron. This isn't a job interview.
- Treat the latex gaskets 303 Protectant or dust them with unscented talcum powder and store as described below.
Storing Your Drysuit
Want to protect the suit that protects you? When you put it away, do it right. Watch this video to learn how, or read the summary below it.Download text version of video (pdf).
- To maximize the life of the gaskets, drysuits must be protected from sunlight and ozone.
- Store drysuits in a cool, dark place. Most clothes closets are fine, but avoid attics that get really hot in the summer.
- Treat the gaskets with 303 Protectant or dust them with unscented talcum powder.
- Hang the drysuit on a wide suit hanger (not a wire clothes hanger). Because of their length, you may wish to use a second hanger to lift the legs off the floor, or just drape them over the shoulders of the suit.
- For longer-term storage, bring a dark plastic trash bag up from the bottom over the drysuit, and cinch the bag closed with a twist-tie around the hanger hook. (Make sure the suit is absolutely dry inside and out before you bag it!)
- If a suitable closet is not available, fold the suit loosely, avoiding over-bending or kinking the zippers. Then put it inside a dark plastic garbage bag, seal the bag, and put the bag inside a large cardboard box.
- Do not store a drysuit in a room with machinery or lamps that produce ozone.
Packing Your Drysuit for Travel
Your biggest concern when traveling with your drysuit is to avoid damage to the zipper and gaskets. Follow the advice in this video and all will be well.
- Keep the zippers clean. Dirt and grit will make them difficult to operate and can even degrade their watertightness.
- When cleaning the suit, use a brush to remove dirt and grit from the zippers.
- If metal zippers are stiff, rub them with beeswax or a block of paraffin wax. You can find paraffin with canning supplies in the supermarket or hardware store. (There are also wax- and silicone-based products made especially for the drysuit zippers. Google "drysuit zipper wax.") Sometimes, a little extra dab of wax or petroleum jelly at the lower end of the zipper will help prevent minor water seepage. Do not wax plastic zippers.
- Folding or over-bending can create a kink that will ruin the zipper. See the above video for tips on storing and packing your drysuit for travel, to learn how to avoid this type of damage.