Extend the Life of Your Dry Suit: Essential Care and Maintenance Tips

Extend the Life of Your Dry Suit: Essential Care and Maintenance Tips

Posted by Pascal Smyth on 2023 Dec 12th


Owning a dry suit is a significant investment for any water sports enthusiast. While the initial cost of purchase is quite high, they make paddling in cold weather as well as practicing in-water skills such as wet-exits and rescues much more comfortable. Designed to keep paddlers safe and comfortable in cold conditions, they do a great job provided they’re in proper working order. With a little bit of maintenance these important pieces of safety equipment can last for many years.



The Key to Dry Suit Longevity: Gasket Care

The gasket is the most vulnerable part of a dry suit. Made from latex rubber, gaskets are prone to tearing if the rubber is allowed to decay, but they can last much longer with appropriate care. One crucial tip is to avoid contact with sunscreen or insect repellents. These products contain chemicals that can rapidly degrade the material. To protect your gasket from degradation caused by sun exposure, periodically apply a silicone-based UV protectant. A few times per year should be plenty. Some dry suit manufacturers recommend 303 Aerospace Protectant for their latex gaskets. Refer to the manufacturer’s website for specific recommendations.

Remember that no matter now well we take care of gaskets, they will eventually require replacement. If you notice a small nick or tear to your gasket they can be temporarily patched using Aquaseal. Though this may be enough to keep you on the water for a little longer, the gasket will be at risk of failure, and replacement gaskets should be installed as soon as possible.


Zipper Maintenance: Ensuring a Tight Seal

An often overlooked aspect of dry suit care is cleaning and lubricating the zippers on occasion. Dirt and sand can be wedged between the teeth of the zipper, causing damage. This has the potential to ruin the zipper, resulting in a need to have it replaced. Zippers cannot be repaired once damaged, and replacement is quite expensive. As with all things, a bit of care goes a long way.

There are specific zipper lubricants available, either as a brush on liquid, or a convenient stick applicator. I usually have a stick in my repair kit just in case.


Fabric Care: Preserving Your Dry Suit's Integrity

Most modern dry suits are crafted from vapor-permeable waterproof materials such as Gore-Tex. While they can be patched if punctured, it's best to avoid damage altogether. Be cautious around sharp objects and abrasive surfaces. Regular cleaning is also necessary as a build-up of dirt or body oils will clog the material, and significantly reduce the breathability of the fabric.

For cleaning, use a specialized dry suit shampoo following the instructions provided. You can wash your suit by hand or on a gentle cycle in a front-loading washing machine, ideally inside a mesh bag to prevent snags. If washing your dry suit in a washing machine, ensure all zips are closed. Avoid using a dryer as it will ruin the gaskets.


Restoring Water Repellency

Over time, your dry suit will lose its ability to shed water from its surface. If the suit begins to wet out, meaning it absorbs moisture instead of repelling it, it’s still waterproof but may feel clammy. Applying spray-on water repellent coating can restore this, though they work best when used in conjunction with a hot cycle in a clothes dryer to help ‘set’ the repellent coating into the material. As using a clothes dryer will destroy your gaskets, this is really only suitable to do if you have removed the gaskets and are planning to replace them.


Professional Maintenance and Repairs

Gasket replacements and small patches may be done yourself if you’d like, but for extensive repairs consult the manufacturer for authorized repair centers. Some brands will be able to carry out repairs themselves if you ship the suit back to the factory. Ideally with a little care and maintenance the suit will rarely if ever need extensive work done to it.

Remember, your dry suit is an investment in your safety and comfort during water activities. Proper maintenance not only extends its life but also ensures optimal performance.



A well-maintained dry suit is an invaluable asset for any water sports enthusiast. A dry suit opens up a whole new world of paddling opportunities. Surfing, rolling, and skill development are all made much more pleasant when dry, allowing your skills to grow while remaining comfortable. By following these tips from me, you can ensure your dry suit remains functional and reliable for many years.