How to Clean Neoprene Wetsuits and Booties?

By Laura (Grinnell, IA, USA)
We are wondering how to clean neoprene wetsuits and booties properly at the end of every day. We have just purchased sturdy dive boots to use on our January snorkeling trip to Bonaire. We are also considering getting thin wetsuit tops. We have Gear Aid Revivex for odor elimination. But we’re thinking that the neoprene will also hold all kinds of invisible little creatures. We’ve read various suggestions: wetsuit wash, baby shampoo, Betadine. What works best? What is the most efficient way to use whatever product you recommend (e.g., wash by hand, soak, etc.)? Finally, is it necessary to use Revivex if also using a soap?

By the way, we’ve successfully adopted many of the recommendations on this site, but we’re klutzy enough that we decided to go with the dive boots and not the flip flop recommendation!

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Cary Bennett – Sep 2, 2013

We have been traveling with our wetsuits for three years now, and we find that rinsing them thoroughly each day after we finish up, in the bathtub of our hotel room, then wringing them in a towel and hanging them to dry works well. If we have a dive shop on site or where we snorkeled, we will utilize the dunk tank after we get out of the water, then dry back at the room.

We are generally on one week trips. After we get home they are the first thing to get unpacked and washed immediately in Gear Aid Wetsuit + Drysuit Shampoo, in our front loading HE washer set on the “Hand Wash” setting (cold water only), then wrung out in a clean towel and hung to air dry.

Our suits remain in nearly new condition. We will be out in Fiji and Tonga for three weeks next year and plan to take along some of the wetsuit shampoo to use at the end of each week. The Gear Aid Wetsuit + Drysuit Shampoo is also a conditioner for the neoprene. I highly recommend it.

Dwight – Sep 02, 2013

Everyone probably has a little different routine. Personally, I just can’t stand donning a suit that smells like mold or mildew.

Rinsing at the end of the day alone just doesn’t work for us. Usually by the second or third day, our wetsuits smell completely horrible.

We usually pack along wetsuit hangers, as well as bottles of the wetsuit shampoo mentioned above and Gear Aid Revivex Odor Eliminator.

The first day is a good rinse, hang to drip dry for an hour or so (occasionally wringing out the cuff and ankle areas), and then roll up in beach towels (to dry as best possible) before rehanging for the next day.

Every other day we’ll hand agitate in warm water with wetsuit shampoo (we have used baby shampoo without problems), rinse well, followed by a 30 minute soak in the Revivex solution before a drip dry hang – rolling in towels – and rehanging. The next morning after this routine the suits smell good!

After getting home we follow a similar routine as the previous poster. We got something called a “HangAir” wetsuit dryer. While it is a little expensive ($50 or so) for what it is, basically a computer fan in a large well designed hanger, the product works great! It blows air down the arms and legs and usually after an overnight hang, the wetsuit is bone dry and ready to store. If the “HangAir” wasn’t so large, I’d probably pack it along with us on our trips. With this device I can see a rinsing only routine being viable.

Happy snorkeling!

Laura in Grinnell, IA – Sep 02, 2013

These are both incredibly useful comments. Thanks much to you both for taking the time. What about the boots? We’re testing the gear in our local pool, doing a rinse to get rid of chlorine, and then soaking in Revivex for a bit. What’s the best way to dry boots? Can’t do the towel ringing as with a wetsuit. Right side up? Upside down?

A pair pulled out of Revivex about 42 hours ago is still wet in toes, despite being in a low humidity spot. We’re guessing that this, versus wetsuit with more circulation, is really ripe for,… well,… we don’t want to think about it!

Anonymous – Sep 14, 2013

When our booties get smelly, I rinse them in vinegar. Be aware that in Bonaire, the vinegar is different than in North America and can’t be used.

Stick Figure – Jul 21, 2019

My wetsuit never gets stinky. I use the same method for all my gear. I have two tubs and I let everything soak in there for between 30 minutes to several hours in lukewarm water. I have gloves and booties too, in addition to the suit. I never use any shampoo. The only time my suit had some stains on it was the one time that I did not give it a good wash right after exiting the ocean.

I never ring my suit. I just put it on a regular hanger and run a fan in the bathroom all night. The only gear that remains wet the next day is the bottom of the booties; maybe slightly damp, if even. I never ring any of my gear and never put it in any machine.

I always give everything a fresh water soak as soon as I exit the ocean. So far so good.

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