It is not recommended to take your neoprene wetsuit into chlorinated water, however, sometimes we have to expose our wetsuits to chlorine.
As a general rule, you cannot chlorine proof a wetsuit. However, you can prolong the life of your wetsuit by cleaning it after each swim. In addition, it is possible to buy some excellent neoprene cleaning shampoos to extend the life of your wetsuit.
It is well known that neoprene and chlorine do not mix well, with many manufacturers recommending that you do not use your neoprene wetsuit in a chlorinated pool.
Over time, your wetsuit will lose its bounce and age quickly. As a result, you will find that your wetsuits do not last as long as they should.
In this article I will cover:
- How does chlorine damage a wetsuit?
- Do chlorine resistant wetsuits exist?
- Does chlorine resistant swimwear exist?
- How do I protect my wetsuit from chlorine?
How Does Chlorine Damage A Wetsuit?
The use of chlorine in swimming pools is a common practice, but chlorine can be very damaging to a neoprene wetsuit.
Chlorine can cause the neoprene material to become brittle and lose its elasticity.
This can cause reduced insulation properties and an increased chance of getting cold as the material degrades and is less efficient as an insulator.
I tested the impact of chlorine on my wetsuit by documenting the impact of chlorine on the neoprene over a swimming season.
After 50 swims, at an average swim length of 40 minutes, the wetsuit was still in good condition, however, the material had lost its bounce and it certainly looked tired.
50 swims is nothing, and you would expect to get more mileage out of a wetsuit. However, the chlorine causes neoprene to age before its time.
Because of this, swimmers who wear a wetsuit in chlorinated water need to find solutions to extend the life of their wetsuits, especially if they have purchased a specialised or expensive neoprene wetsuit.
Do Chlorine Resistant Wetsuits Exist?
In 2013, Mirage and Orca reportedly had chlorine resistant wetsuits on the market. [source]
In 2022, however, I cannot find a single wetsuit that is specified as being chlorine resistant.
I contacted a major UK supplier of wetsuits and asked them if they stocked any chlorine resistant wetsuits. Here is their reply:
The wetsuits we have on sale are all stocked with open water in mind so I would advise no, but if there is a particular wetsuit you’d like me to look into please let me know and I can check this with the supplier?UK Wetsuit Supplier
Because of this reply, we must look to the manufacturers of wetsuits to find out if chlorine resistant wetsuits actually exist today.
So I contacted Orca, a fantastic manufacturer of wetsuits, to ask if they do actually make chlorine resistant wetsuits and this is how they replied:
Wetsuits can be damaged with chlorine, we don’t recommend this use as it affects the products’ lifespan. If you use them in chlorinated water, please rinse it in water after every use to prevent major damages.Orca Customer Service
In summary, chlorine resistant wetsuits do not currently exist.
The advice from manufacturers is universal: try to keep your wetsuit away from chlorinated water, and if you must swim in a chlorinated pool, rinse it well afterwards to extend the life of the wetsuit.
Does Chlorine Resistant Swimwear Exist?
There is a wide range of chlorine resistant swimwear on the market.
Many major brands, such as Speedo, FINIS, and TYR, now offer a range of chlorine resistant swimwear options.
If you are looking for something that will last longer in a chlorinated pool, then chlorine resistant swimwear could be a good option.
Here are some options from Speedo.
How Do I Protect My Wetsuit From Chlorine?
There are a few things you can do to protect your wetsuit from chlorine.
1. Rinse After Swimming
After every swim, ensure you rinse your wetsuit thoroughly with fresh clean water. This will help to remove the chlorine from your wetsuit.
2. Chlorine Removal Cleaner
There are several products on the market that remove chlorine from your swimwear.
If you are having trouble getting the chlorine out of your wetsuit, then a chlorine removal product or wetsuit cleaner may be the solution you need.
3. Wash Before You Swim
It can help to fully saturate your wetsuit in fresh water before getting into a pool with chlorine.
With your wetsuit on, stand in the shower and allow the wetsuit to become completely saturated in fresh, clean water.
Allowing the wetsuit to be fully wet and saturated with fresh water can help to create a barrier to the chlorine, or at least, to stop your wetsuit from becoming fully saturated in chlorinated water.
Although I have found no studies to back up this theory, to me it makes sense and I find it helps.
Although it is not recommended to expose your neoprene wetsuit to chlorine, sometimes we have no choice.
If you do find yourself in this situation, be sure to take the necessary precautions to clean and protect your suit.
Swimming in a chlorinated pool can be hard on your wetsuit, but with a bit of extra care, you can help ensure that it lasts as long as possible.