I know many surfers scorn the idea of using wetsuit cleaners and think they’re a bunch of overhyped products.
I was there too, but I was wrong.
See, no matter how much I hosed my wet wetsuit, it would always keep on smelling, mostly like the ocean.
While I had actually come to appreciate the neoprene odor, just as much as a farmer or horse owner appreciates the smell of his stable, I couldn’t get over the idea that I could do nothing about it.
But what really got into my nerves the next day after scuba diving is I would always get a ton of nasty, itchy pimple-ish things all over my body.
And this got me thinking, how much was I willing to sacrifice my skin hygiene in the name of contempt.
Come to think of it, your wetsuit goes through a lot. From the flopping in saltwater, body sweat, body oils, drying in direct sun rays, being peed on to dragging on the asphalt parking lot, there’re all the reasons for a wetsuit to hold dirt and shorten their life cycle.
But a small investment, a fraction of the wetsuit cost, can extend the neoprene life of your wetsuit and make your experience on the warm water more pleasant.
And here’s the best part, the best wetsuit cleaners keep your wetsuit smelling fresh and soft & supple as the day you first got it.
Your wetsuit doesn’t have to smell like trash and rub like wood constantly.
Here’re some of the best wetsuit cleaners
Table of Contents
The Best Wetsuit Cleaners For The Money
#1 Jaws Slosh (Wetsuit Cleaner) -- Multi-purpose Cleaner
I wanted a wetsuit cleaner that I could use for more than my wetsuits, and the Jaws Slosh wetsuit shampoo seems to fit the bill.
It’s the most versatile wetsuit cleaner I’ve come across.
I love using the Jaws on just about any stuff I’m not jazzed about using in the washing machine. For example, I’ve found it quite handy for my backpacks, nylon belts, masks, running shoes, and of course, my wetsuits.
I’ve also used it to clean the back and bottom of my Honda Civic neoprene material car seats.
This stuff is awesome to use and kills the stink and horrendous odors in a single wash.
Jaws Slosh wetsuit shampoo replaces the horrendous smell with a nice light fragrance. It smells great and reminds me of my body shampoo/body wash.
And the good thing is the wetsuit shampoo is concentrated, so we just use a tiny bit of it (half an ounce) on freshwater. But I suggest using the full-strength concentration for the hair, stains, and soiled areas.
After washing wetsuits, the best part is that there’s no foamy residue, and not having to rinse the washed items saves me a lot of time and energy. But you can always hose off any visible foam.
Jaws Slosh all-natural cleaner is gentle on my hands and the environment, too. It’s a naturally green formula and contains no harmful chemicals, so no hand irritation or wetsuit damage.
Overall, Jaws Slosh wetsuit shampoo is a nice purchase, and while it’s a bit pricey, its multi-functionality and performance justify the price.
#2 O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner and Conditioner -- Premium Choice
I struggle with most scented products, but the O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner and Conditioner has been good.
It’s fairly neutral but has a nice citrus smell that lasts for a while after my wetsuit dried.
The all-natural cleaner has also proved to be a real life-savior and works well at removing the pee smell from my wetsuits and foot odor smell from my booties.
O’Neill Wetsuit Cleaner and Conditioner also double as a conditioning agent and feels like dawn soap. It worked well and restored my wetsuit to its original state.
My wetsuit now feels buttery, just like the first day I got it.
Overall, I can’t be happier than this with this purchase.
It runs a bit more expensive than most other wetsuit cleaners, but it goes a long way to eliminate wretched odors and prolongs the life of your wetsuit.
#3 Gear Aid Wetsuit Shampoo -- Value Purchase
I’ve a habit of rinsing off and drying my wetsuits immediately after a session.
But sometimes, I forget, and when I do, hosing it with warm water doesn’t eliminate the stank smell.
Gear Aid Wetsuit Cleaner does the trick.
It’s an awesome wetsuit cleaner that removes all the rubbery and dirt smell in a few washes.
While it doesn’t remove stains or anything, I’m impressed at how it leaves me wanting to smell my wetsuit over and over again.
I also can’t get enough of its versatility because I can use it on my gloves, fishing waders, Lycra bodywear, and even GORE-TEX fabrics.
My shoes are usually the worst because they carry the smell of decomposing marine life, but this shampoo eliminates the smell. They now smell like new.
The non-toxic formula on the Aid wetsuit cleaner is also strong and concentrated, helping to keep my wetsuits supple and soft.
It eliminates the chafing and skin irritation that comes with most wetsuits. More importantly, it prevents premature aging and has generally extended their life cycle.
Simply put, Gear Aid Wetsuit cleaners restore wetsuits to their original form.
The only issue with the GearAid Wetsuit/Drysuit Shampoo is the flimsy packaging.
While it makes it easy to get every content out to the last drop and secures securely, it looks flimsy and might tear.
#4 Pau Pilau Wetsuit Cleaner and Conditioner – No Synthetics Derivatives
Pau Pilau has been a standard in surfing & scuba diving surfwear, and their Pau Pilau Wetsuit Cleaner and Conditioner is one of the staple wetsuit cleaners.
I got this biological solution because it doesn’t contain synthetic fragrances or derivatives. Instead, it has a nice citrus smell that remains after the wetsuit dries. It’s nothing overpowering, and honestly, it’s not noticeable. You need to sniff hard to smell anything.
But you’ll be amazed how it deodorizes your wetsuit.
It’s not really a soap for cleaning or removing the grime dirt, but when your wetsuits start to smell, become sour and hosing, & nothing else works, this stuff will. It works better than my previous Seavenger wetsuit cleaner or Mcnett Wetsuit cleaner.
Pau Pilau is also a powerful concentrated and active enzyme-based enzyme-based biodegradable solution that works to leave your wetsuit feeling soft and pliable.
Simply put, it reinstates your old and tired wetsuit to its young and vibrant form, just like it was when new.
The active ingredients on this bad boy are also safe and non-toxic. So, there is no need to worry about irritation, even for users with sensitive skins.
Overall, the Pilau Wetsuit Cleaner and Conditioner is a nice product, and I use it after every session.
#5 Rip Curl Piss Off -- Simple Wetsuit Detergent
Rip Curl Piss Off is a welcome addition to my surfing & scuba diving hobby that should help prolong the life of my wetsuit and eliminate the pee smell.
It has a low concentration, but it does a great job eliminating the stank odors.
I usually soak my wetsuit for a couple of hours on the Rip Curl Piss Off solution, and it doesn’t smell like anything, which is brilliant.
It has a soapy fragrance and smells like a cleaning product. It doesn’t stick around much after the wetsuit dries and won’t make your wetsuit smell like flowers. But it’ll definitely take away the funky smell.
But the greatest benefit, at least in my opinion, is how it leaves my wetsuit feeling nice, soft, and supple. It brings back the old memories of when I first bought my wetsuit.
It keeps my wetsuit and other equipment fresh, stretchy, and in good condition.
And as a bonus, the Rip Curl Piss Off is toxic-free and biodegradable, so no harm to the environment or irritation on hands.
#6 Sink the Stink Wetsuit Cleaner -- Best General Wetsuit Care cleaner
Sink the Stink Wetsuit Cleaner is the cult detergent for wetsuit’s neoprene.
I got this because I couldn’t get rid of the funky smell on my neoprene wetsuit, regardless of how many times I tried to hose it.
The Stink Wetsuit Cleaner has proven to be a real-life savior, especially in cold and windy conditions.
I’m impressed at how well Sink the Stink has replaced my stank neoprene wetsuit odor with a fresh fragrance. The fragrance is pleasant and doesn’t linger once dry—a fresh, clean smell.
On top of that, it’s a highly concentrated solution that is easy to mix, and a little goes a long way.
It’s not a cleaning detergent per se, but I still love how it eliminates the bacteria and other dirt on my wetsuit.
But for the tough odors, I recommend you let your wetsuits soak overnight. While at it, scrub the wetsuit with a soft brush.
I also got this wetsuit cleaner because it’s safe for the environment. It’s biodegradable, and I haven’t experienced any skin irritation.
Best Wetsuit Cleaner Buying Guide
With so many options to pick from, choosing the best wetsuit cleaner for your needs can be nerve-wracking.
The good news is I’ve prepared a comprehensive wetsuit buying guide to help with the selection.
I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best wetsuit cleaner in the guide below.
Why Do I Need a Wetsuit Cleaner?
Cleaning your wetsuit is different from your everyday laundry work.
It requires detergent made explicitly for wetsuits.
See, wetsuits are made of neoprene, and the chemical composition of neoprene products makes it challenging to clean using regular detergents.
The synthetic rubber on wetsuits can get damaged from the regular laundry detergent.
Fortunately, a couple of cleaners are designed explicitly for wetsuit cleaning. And in the section below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about selecting the best wetsuit cleaners.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Wetsuit Cleaners
A good wetsuit cleaner should be safe for you and your wetsuit.
Remember that it’s inevitable that some of the cleaning detergents will end up in the ocean next time you wear them, so you need to ensure it doesn’t harm marine life or anything.
But more importantly, it shouldn’t be a cause of health concern to you.
Gentle on Skin
Wetsuits are never to be cleaned using a washing machine or dryers.
Therefore, your choice of detergent should be gentle on your skin and hands.
A good wetsuit should have an all-natural composition.
It’s a useful eco-friendly feature, helping to keep the environment free of toxic elements while keeping your hands safe.
Most regular detergents affect the natural composition and integrity of neoprene.
So, a good wetsuit cleaner shouldn’t affect the material. Instead, it should make the fabric softer and supple enough for skin use.
Simply put, it should maintain the material’s properties and keep the wetsuit in its original state as possible.
The ideal wetsuit cleaner should effectively remove the dirt, including the stuck-on dried salt, organic residue & inorganic residue.
In addition, the detergent should also eliminate and replace the ripe smells on your wetsuits.
I prefer my wetsuit shampoos in liquid form and concentrated so I can get the most of them.
The cleaner should also be vicious and have a nice consistency for greater versatility and all-around use.
Using a Wetsuit Cleaner
In the section below, we break down and provide a step-by-step formula for using a wetsuit cleaner.
1) Preparing the materials
First, ensure you’ve the right wetsuit cleaner.
Read on the cleaner’s specifications and see that it’s designed to be used on your wetsuit.
2) Mix the cleaner
The second step is mixing the cleaner with soapy water.
Again, ensure you check on the specifications to mix the cleaner to the proper proportions.
3) Wash your wetsuit
Next is washing your wetsuit.
Be sure to open the zipper track area since it’s where the crusted salt & organic residue tends to stick on.
Also, flip the wetsuit inside out so you can access the internal sections that are hardly cleaned.
After a thorough clean, you can now rinse your wetsuit with cold water and freshwater.
It’ll eliminate all the soapy foam and drain the dirt away.
I recommend hosing your wetsuit with cold water rather than rinsing it in a bathtub.
Also, avoid hot water to keep your old wetsuit from shrinking.
5) Drying and storing your wetsuit
Drying your wetsuit is necessary to eliminate any moistness that may cause mold growth.
When drying, keep the zip open for quick and all-drying.
I wouldn’t recommend using a dryer to dry your wetsuit because it may shrink it, ultimately destroying the suit.
Instead, dry the suit in moderate warm conditions.
The final step is storage, and this is where most surfers make the biggest mistake.
Don’t fold your wetsuit as it spoils your garment. Instead, use a hanger or lay it flat on a dry surface.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our winner for the best wetsuit shampoos is the Jaws concentrated shampoo.
It’s a one-of-a-kind cold water-activated cleaner that is safe to use on a range of neoprene gear, starting from wetsuits to boots.
The cleaner also scoops our top position because it has a pleasant fragrance that isn’t overpowering. But more importantly, it does a nice job of eliminating stank odor and unpleasant smells odors commonly found in neoprene products while maintaining the suppleness of the wetsuit.
I’d buy it again.