Neoprene is a specialized fabric popularly used for water-related sporting equipment. It's commonly used for SCUBA diving, surfing, and water skiing protective wear and equipment. This means that your neoprene-based items are not only constantly assaulted by sweat and other grimy materials, but also bombarded with salt water and water treatment chemicals.
It's important to realize that while neoprene is durable, if you don't care for your sporting goods properly and clean buildup, it can affect the condition and lifespan of your neoprene. Wash your neoprene fabric on a regular basis, preferably after each use, to keep it in prime condition for a long time to come.
Step 1 - Rinsing
Especially for larger neoprene-based items, you should be rinsing for at least three or four minutes straight after every use. Try to rinse using clean, fresh water applied in a directed spray. A shower head with a removable handle will work for smaller items, so you can direct the spray in the tub.
For larger items, such as full scuba gear, hang them outside and spray thoroughly with a garden hose. Alternatively, if you don't have access to an outdoor space and garden hose, you can submerge the item in water completely, squeeze the water out, drain the tub, refill the tub with clean water, and repeat the process once or twice to be thorough.
Whatever the method, continue to rinse for a minute or two after the water appears to be clean and clear as it drains off the neoprene.
Step 2 -Cleaning
While you can purchase a cleaner specifically for neoprene, they're usually expensive and don't actually have much of an edge over cheaper, more common solutions in terms of cleaning power. A mild detergent, will often work just fine on neoprene fabric. You can also use a mild shampoo like baby shampoos.
Whichever one you use, remember that it doesn’t take much to do the cleaning. You want to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon depending on the size of the item being cleaned. By adding more than this, you’ll only make it harder to rinse completely clean after you have finished.
Do not pour your cleaner directly on the neoprene. The best thing to do is to fill up a tub with a large enough capacity to submerge the entire item, and then, before actually submerging the neoprene, mixing the cleaner thoroughly into the water.
NOTE: If the item is small enough, you can do this using a top loading washing machine. You won’t want to let it go through the entire wash cycle, but you can put a small amount of detergent in and allow the washer to mix it for you, then stop it, open it, and put your neoprene in to soak.
Hand wash your item just as you would delicate clothing. Wash gently, squeeze out the dirty water, and allow it to soak a little while longer. If the neoprene is especially dirty or grimy, you may want to soak it overnight.
Then rinse repeatedly until no more bubbles or suds from your cleaner appear.
Step 3 - Drying
You should never dry your neoprene in a dryer. Hang it up to air dry. The trick is that it shouldn’t be allowed to air dry in the direct sunlight, as UV rays can cause your neoprene to break down faster.