We’re starting to get an early Spring here in Central Florida with temps up into the 80’s. We may get La Niña patterns-a-comin’ soon (means worse hurricanes for us in the Atlantic), but it’s WARM.
And that makes my inner Chris Farley dance like the El Niño king.
So in celebration, I decided to come up with an end of season wetsuit cleaning routine and try it on the ripest suit I could find….
This suit was given to me by a kind friend for scrap material, BUT, it’s 10 years old! Sorry, but before I would even touch it with a 10 foot pole for a project, it needs a DEEP clean. Bleach is the best option, but the chemicals in traditional bleach are harmful in so many ways, especially to the environment. Also, cleaning sports gear with regular detergent is a no-no if you want to make it last and avoid breaking down the material.
I’ve read that Oxygen Bleach is a good alternative to regular bleach in many cases, and can be easy enough to make yourself. The key ingredient is hydrogen peroxide, usually added to a carbonate. For this, I’m using Washing Soda, which is more effective than Baking Soda in this combo. Washing Soda can be found in the laundry aisle too, along with standard detergents. Just keep ’em separated, and they’ll last ya a while. Hint: you can use these for other things, not just wetsuits.
This required my trusty 5 gallon utility bucket, cleaned and ready for use- outside. Although many instructions will say oxygen bleach will work in all temperatures, adding a bit of hot water doesn’t hurt to help along the reaction, which is a slow chemical process.
I began by filling the clean bucket partially with hot (or not) water. Now I was ready to start adding the ingredients, measured for use with approximately 3-4 gallons of water. Do not use more- a dab a’ do ya, brah, don’t over chemical things, man.
Wetsuit Wash (Dilute in 3-4 gallons of water, mix well):
- 1 teaspoon Washing Soda
- 1 teaspoon Hydrogen Peroxide (most stores only sell 3% to 5%, that’s all you need)
To stir, use a stick or handle, not your hands- it is bleach, yo. I used a broom handle. Allow the mixture to react for about 5 minutes BEFORE putting the suit in- the solution will get a little milky colored like mine did.
I put the suit in (with the broom handle since it’s grody), stirred it around, dunked it with it stick, and then let the suit sit in the mixture 24 hours, stirring it a few more times at the beginning of the process. Be sure to cover it if you leave it outside- I put a lid on mine to prevent any animals from drinking from it since I left it overnight.
The reaction is fully completed after 12 hours or so, so the mixture is inactive, and can be tossed out safely. Yay.
I made sure to rinse the suit REALLY WELL afterwards- this is important! You don’t want any white powdery crud to remain on the suit.
BUT…if your suit is x-tra freakin nasty…..
Fill your rinse bucket back up with clean water, and add a few drops of pure Pine Oil. Pine Oil is a very effective disinfectant, and only a few drops are needed to make a quick rinse dip for your suit. Be sure to rinse it once more afterwards.
I hung the suit up on my HangAir dryer in my garage to dry, and it smells so much better and fresher. The inner lining didn’t lose any color either.
So no, I can’t bottle this up and sell it, but if I did, I’d totally name it Mr. Belvedere’s Gnar Pro Wetsuit Wash. “Gnar Pro” gives it the surfer cred, but “Mr. Belvedere” makes it classy to be clean, yo.
It’s all about the marketing.
What do you think Mr. Wonderful???