Does Neoprene Shrink in The Dryer or Over Time? Helpful Tips

Having the right wet suit fit properly is a must. You want the wet suit to be tight but not so tight that you hit those high notes you would never be able to reach normally. Taking proper care of your wet suit means that you can enjoy the water world.

Does neoprene shrink in the dryer? Yes, neoprene shrinks. But for the dryer, you have to set the heat up high to shrink neoprene. For the time, it seems that the nitrogen gas to inflate bubbles will disappear over time and shrink the suit as a result.

To learn more about neoprene and shrinking just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about if you or a family member is an avid scuba diver. It just takes a few minutes to get up to speed.

Tip 1: Air drying may be old fashioned and takes a long time to complete but it is the most effective way to dry neoprene fabric.

Tip 2: When washing the wetsuit make sure to open all the zippers and turning the suit inside out before placing it in the water.

Can Neoprene Shrink?


The good news here is that you can use your dryer to get your neoprene fabric nice and dry. BUT, you will need to use a low or no heat setting when you do this. High heat will shrink neoprene as it does many other synthetic fibers.

Air drying is the way to avoid shrinking neoprene, yet there is a caveat to this method as well. Do not put your neoprene material or wetsuit in the direct sunlight. The sun will damage the fabric and you may not be satisfied with what you see.

While neoprene is a rubber material that resists heat, weathering, and oil it is still not the perfect fabric. It is vulnerable to other elements including dryer heat. Man-made fibers are like that and it is something you just have to live with if you want to scuba dive or use neoprene material in other aspects of your life.

Tip 3: When washing other neoprene products like waders, masks, and so on, make sure to follow the cleaning instructions on the labels correctly.

Does Neoprene Shrink in The Wash?


It is possible that this will happen but if you wash in really hot water, you will destroy the elasticity of the neoprene fabric. The heat has never been synthetic fibers’ best friend and if you want your wet suit or other neoprene products to last do not wash them in anything hotter than warm water.

You can use a mild laundry soap but buying a cleaner made to clean neoprene is a lot better. Baby shampoo is another good alternative. Make sure to turn the suit inside out before cleaning.

Hand washing is the best method to clean your neoprene material but if you need to use your washing machine, use the delicate cycle, and keep the temperature of the water on cold.

That is the way to protect your wet suit from shrinking. Hand washing of other neoprene products is also recommended.

Tip 4: Storing your wet suit is important as it needs to be hung up and between soft clothing. Don’t let any embellishments on those clothing come in contact with the neoprene or they may nick or ruin the suit or other neoprene fabrics.

Will Neoprene Shrink in The Dryer?


The sun and your dryer have something in common. They both will damage your wetsuit or neoprene fabric if you are not careful. Yes, you are supposed to hang dry the material but do not put it in direct sunlight. Keep it where the warm air will reach it but in the shade.

The dryer will also break down the neoprene if you use a temperature that is too hot for the fabric to handle. Sometimes even a cool temperature can harm your neoprene material so it is best to simply hang dry it if you do not want to take the risk.

Hang the suit or fabric upside done and inside out then make sure you are patient. You want the suit to dry completely before you put it away. You should hang the material or wet suit up in a closet and do not fold it when not in use. This avoids creases and other issues that make using the items the next time.

Tip 5: If you wash your neoprene material in your washing machine it is best to keep the water temperature below 40 degrees C. That translates into about 112 degrees F.

Can You Put Neoprene in The Dryer?


Yes, you can but it is a risk when you do so. High heat is not a good element to have next to your neoprene materials. But, the dryer is not a safe machine to use at any temperature when it comes to neoprene.

Whether it is the friction the drum creates or the tumbling next to other fabrics or just the air itself, even cooler temperatures can cause harm to neoprene fabrics. It is best to take the right precautions and avoid the dryer if you can.

Those with small apartments may not have the luxury of hang drying but it is the safest method you can use as long as you do not let the sun hit the material directly. Play his by ear and maybe a little trial and error as everyone’s results may be different.

Also, drying the suit in a mesh laundry bag, inside out and on its own may be some ways to protect it from dryer damage.

Does Neoprene Shrink Over Time?


Yes, they say that neoprene does shrink over time. One reason for this is the nitrogen gas used to make neoprene do what it does escapes and the suit does not respond as it should. This translates into getting a lot of oil and placing it on your body to get the suit to go on right.

Then there is the old blame the suit for not fitting attitude. Shrinkage doesn’t always happen in the washer or the dryer. For that matter over time. It happens when some people are not watching their diets and gain a few extra pounds.

If you have gained a few pounds between uses it is not the suits’ fault if it does not fit or go on easily. The suit will not lie and will let you know if you look fat when wearing it.

Can You Shrink Neoprene Knee Sleeves?


The good news for this product is that it is very difficult to shrink neoprene knee sleeves or braces. But they may shrink if you put them in the dryer which is why hang drying is the most recommended method of drying these items.

One method of washing them is boiling them for 5 minutes, then add mild detergent and let the knee sleeve stay in the pot until the water cools. This should not harm the sleeve nor change its size.

If you use your washing machine, you want to put the sleeves in a laundry bag, use the lowest temperature possible and then hang dry the material. Do not use a lot of mild laundry soap when washing the sleeves this way.

Finally, you can wash the knee sleeve in 2 quarts of boiling water and 1 cup of vinegar soaking the sleeves for 30 minutes. Then air dry. That should also help you avoid shrinking those knee sleeves.

How To Shrink Neoprene Gloves


Heat is the best way to shrink neoprene gloves. But since there is no control switch on the shrinking rate, we recommend that you simply buy a smaller pair of gloves and not risk shrinking the ones you own too much.

You can try using boiling water for 5 minutes and then dry the gloves in high heat in your dryer. But again this is a big risk and one that you should not assume will work to your satisfaction.

The gloves will shrink over time but this process may be too slow for some people so it is best just to buy a new smaller pair of gloves when you need them.

Some Final Words

Neoprene is a good fabric and helps protect you when you go underwater from the compression the water pressure brings. But it is not a perfect fabric as ammonia can ruin your suit from the inside out.

The proper care of your neoprene materials will help them stay with you, at the right size and without damage, for along time. But neoprene will break down over time and eventually you will have to replace those products made from that material.

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