The following information is provided for gear that does not have a specific owner's manual. The following guidelines are intended as a general guide only for basic care and upkeep of your dive gear
There are several different types of materials used in wetsuits to achieve specific functions. It is helpful to better understand each of these materials in order to take great care of them.
- Neoprene - Neoprene is the base material that virtually all wetsuits are made of. Neoprene is a type of rubber foam and is typically laminated with other materials depending on the desired function of the material.
- Standard Nylon - A standard nylon outer lining is very durable against normal wear and tear. Normal care must be taken to prevent snagging, abrasion, and cuts.
- Skin material - "skin" material may be used either inside or outside of your wetsuit and often around the wrists, ankles, and neck area. This material has a rubber-like an appearance either being smooth or textured and is commonly referred to as "skin-in" or "skin-out". "Skin" neoprene material is typically used in areas where a watertight seal is desired or a benefit can be derived from its water-shedding properties. Some additional care is needed to prevent cutting or abrasion of this material. Sharp fingernails may cut this material if care is not taken.
- Thermo-skin - This material may be used inside of your wetsuit. Thermo-skin material has a silver-coloured smooth skin type surface. This material has beneficial heat reflective properties and also provides a sealing surface similar to standard "skin" materials. Some additional care is needed to prevent cutting or abrasion of this material. Make sure to cut your fingernails
- X-Flex or Iso-Flex Neoprene - X-Flex and Iso-Flex neoprene are special materials designed specifically to have a much higher rate of stretch than conventional materials. Due primarily to the looser nit needed to achieve this high degree of stretch; these materials may be more prone to snagging. "Hook-and-loop" fasteners may also cause some light snagging and pilling of the material.
Care before the Dives
- Do not place suit on rough surfaces to avoid the suit from getting cut or holes
- Avoid placing your wetsuit on or near any hot surfaces.
Care During the Dive
- Abrasions against sharp rocks or coral or other sharp objects can cut or puncture the exterior nylon surface, avoid these areas or don't get to close.
- Small cuts or tears can be easily repaired with wetsuit glue.
- Take extra care when penetrating a wreck as the sharp metal could catch pr snag your suit and cause holes and tears.
- DO NOT PEE in your wetsuit. Not only does it make it more difficult for someone to clean it, but It also smells and the smell generally doesn't wash away.
Care After the Dive
- When removing your wetsuit, first unzip all the zippers completely. Then remove one section at a time taking care to avoid puncturing any of skin surface panels with a fingernail.
- Do not stand on the wetsuit to try to get the suit off, sit down and ask your buddy to gently remove the legs.
- Saltwater and especially chlorine can "dry out" the neoprene material. When neoprene material "dries out" it loses its flexibility therefore you need to thoroughly soak and rinse the wetsuit off with fresh water.
- Soak the wetsuit in a tub of warm freshwater with wetsuit shampoo for at least 15-20 minutes.
- After soaking, thoroughly hose off the wetsuit with fresh water
- Place the suit on a thick hanger with all the zippers open to ensure maximum air circulation and complete drying.
- DO NOT zip up your suit as this will prevent it from drying properly and zips can get stuck.
- Hang suit inside out
- Wetsuit material can develop a permanent crease if left folded for an extended period of time. It is best to store your wetsuit laying flat. If that is not possible, you can store your suit on a hanger. Use as thick a hanger as possible to better support the weight of the suit. The thicker the suit, the heavier, and therefore the thicker your hanger should be.
- Store in a cool, dry and protected place out of direct sunlight.
- Do not store your wetsuit in the garage if the garage is used to park a vehicle. The exhaust emissions from the vehicle can over time deteriorate the neoprene.
- Do not store the suit when still damp as it will not dry and become mouldy or smelly
- Store or hang up the suit INSIDE out
Wetsuit Zipper Care and Maintenance
- Use wax along the zipper to help ease the teeth. Wax makes the zip slide easier and faster without getting stuck.
- Ask for assistance on a back zip. If you try zipping yourself or unzipping, you can damage the zip line itself.
- Avoid any contact with oil, gasoline, aerosols, or chemical solvents.
- Do not expose any part to aerosol spray, as some aerosol propellants attack or degrade rubber and plastic materials.
- Do not store your equipment near any oil, gasoline, chemicals, or solvents.
Written By: Amy-Sarah Lottering