Does Neoprene Stretch Over Time or When Wet? (How To Do It)

There are those situations where you haven’t worn a pair of pants for a while and when you put them on and stretch a little you hear the sound of a rip in the wrong spot. Some stretch is okay but stretchy fabrics tend to lose their shape after a while

Does neoprene stretch over time? Different qualities of neoprene stretch differently. Cheaper neoprene will stretch a bit while the super stretch will expand up to 300%. Yes, it will stretch a little when wet but to get that comfortable stretch fit, you need to do about 5 to 6 dives.

To learn more about how stretchy neoprene is, just continue to read our article. It contains the information you need to figure out if neoprene is the fabric for your personal projects or if you should take up scuba diving

Is Neoprene Stretchy?


For some qualities of this fabric, you can get about 5 to 6 times the stretch in neoprene. That is good flexibility when you are going underwater and need to make some quick moves.

How much stretch you get will depend on the quality of the material that some manufacturers make. As you already know, there is a super stretch version which gives you 300% stretch while there are more inexpensive versions that only give a little.

While you may buy a suit a little tighter hoping it will stretch over time, this may not be a good idea. First, it will take a few dives just to get the material to stretch a tiny bit. Second, you do not want the wet suit or clothing item so tight it interferes with your breathing or walking.

When you buy a wet suit, you have to decide if you want the higher grade material or not. Is the cost worth the extra amount of stretch and will you use that stretch? These questions are important as if you do not take care of the material or use it a lot, it will lose its flexibility and not snap back to its original shape.

That is a factor you must consider when buying a new wet suit.

Does Neoprene Stretch Over Time?


Yes, it can and the more the fabric stretches, the looser and bigger the suit will come. But, there is a bit of good news here. That loss of flexibility and snapback doesn’t mean you can’t wear the suit anymore. It should still fit as the amount of stretch the material does do, is not that great.

If you are going to learn how to do scuba diving, wet suits are supposed to be tight. You are supposed to have a snug fit which prevents you from getting snagged by a jagged rock under the water.

If the suit is so tight you can’t wait t get it off, then the suit is too small for you, and the amount of stretch in that suit will not rectify that problem. Now if it is just awkwardly tight and a little uncomfortable, then you have the right size of a wet suit.

The amount the fabric will stretch will have that suit fitting you like a great glove. There is a break-in period which should tell you which size you have and that time frame is about 6 to 8 dives.

Does Neoprene Stretch When Wet?


Some different styles of neoprene do stretch when they are wet. Those options are purposefully placed in the wet suit as the neoprene is designed to let a layer of water inside your suit so your body heat can warm it up and in turn, keep you warm.

The same amount of stretch you get overtime is about what you get when the material is wet. Of course, it will depend on the quality of the neoprene how much stretch you will get.

How the fabric is made will influence how much stretch you will get. If you are thinking it is going to stretch like other fabrics when they get wet, that is not going to happen. You will get a little stretch but not so much where you can’t wear your wet suit.

As for T-shirts, shoes, and jackets, it is doubtful that those items will stretch too far either. Neoprene is the same material no matter how it is used and the same rules apply. If the neoprene is thin, then you may get more stretch than if it was thick. Check the quality and thickness of the material before you buy it.

How Much Does Neoprene Stretch?


Some qualities of neoprene stretch very little. That is why you need to make sure you buy the right size and not try to squeeze into a wet suit, pair of shoes, etc., that are too small for you. They are just not going to stretch enough for you to be comfortable.

Other qualities of neoprene will stretch about 5 top 6 times their size and still snap back. Then the super stretch is said to stretch 300% which isn’t bad if you have to do a lot of activities that make you reach further than normal.

But there is a problem. Eventually, neoprene will not snap back to its original size which means over time it will lose a little of its shape. By not taking care of the suit or neoprene item, you will lose the shape a little and the item will be baggier and looser. This may sound good in principle but it is not good in reality.

While you want some stretch in order to make the suit or clothing fit your body’s shape, you do not want a lot of stretch. Neoprene is supposed to be tight and not act like leather, cashmere, or some other fabric where stretch is good.

How To Permanently Stretch Neoprene


Well if you are trying to stretch neoprene gloves, first put on a pair of latex gloves. Next, put on your neoprene gloves and without separating the two pairs of gloves, take them off again. Then inflate the latex gloves to a point where you want the neoprene ones to be and tie them off.

This will leave the air in the latex and help you expand the neoprene gloves. Now place the gloves in a warm area and let them sit for a while. You can repeat this as often as you need to in order to get the size just the way you want them.

The problem you are going to have in stretching neoprene is that the style made with nitrogen gas, will lose that gas and eventually degrade some. When that happens you will have a difficult time stretching your neoprene clothing or wet suit permanently.

You can try putting the neoprene clothing or wet suit on and using your hands to stretch the fabric by pulling on it. But this may not get you a universal stretch or an even one.

One thing you do not do is put the wet suit or neoprene fabric in the sun. The sun will dry them out and have the items shrink a little.

Can You Stretch Neoprene Shoes?


It may be possible as neoprene is made from rubber-like material and rubber can stretch. One way to stretch and it is the most painful way is to wear your shoes. Neoprene does stretch a little and wearing your shoes will help the material conform to your feet’s shape.

The breaking in period may last several weeks, so be ready to endure some pain as you get those shoes to the right size. Next, you can try wetting the shoes a little and putting a shoe stretcher inside to make them larger.

Neoprene seems to stretch easier if wet. The thing about neoprene is that it has a little natural stretch to it but maybe not enough to go up a full size. It will depend on the quality of the material and how much gas was used to make the shoes.

If nitrogen gas was used in their construction and it is gone, then do not expect to be able to stretch your shoes. Also, you shouldn’t leave your shoes in direct sunlight either. The sun’s rays will damage the neoprene and help remove the gas.

How To Stretch a Neoprene Neck Seal


When trying to seal off water from your neck area, you only need a little pressure. Not a lot or you may cut off your breathing and have your face turning different shades of color. There is a problem with neck seals though.

They usually only come in 2 sizes- XS/SM and MD/LG/XL and you have to manually stretch them to get them to fit. To stretch the seals to meet your body’s size, take a piece of string and wrap it around your neck. Then mark the spot where the end meets the rest of the string.

Next, find a smooth cylinder that is a little larger than that size and stretch the seal over the cylinder. Once that is done, leave the seal over the cylinder for about 12 hours. After that try the neck seal on and if it is too tight, repeat the process again.

The key to this process is to avoid overstretching. That means do not leave the seals on the cylinder longer than 12 hours and only try this process once or twice. If there is latex on the seal then you run the risk of weakening them.

How To Stretch Neoprene Boots


There are two main lines of thought on this topic. First, most stretching efforts are a waste of time as usually rubber or rubber-like boots do not stretch permanently. They slowly return to their original size.

The second main thought is that when wanting to stretch these types of boots, it is best to get professional help. Neoprene is hard to stretch as boots may not come with the 5 or 6 times stretching ability nor made with the super stretch fabric.

That is one of 4 recommended ways to stretch neoprene boots. One of the remaining three ways is to use ice or rather water in Ziploc bags and place them in your boots. Then put the boots in your freezer and let the cold air do the work for you.

Another method is to put on thick socks and go get your hairdryer. Heat up the material while you are wearing the boots and thick socks. Keeping the hairdryer about 5 inches away from the rubber target those tight areas you want larger.

Once that is done, walk around in the boots for about 30 minutes. The problem with this option is there is no guarantee the material will be permanently enlarged. A final method to use would be the old boot stretcher method.

Insert the stretcher and set it to the size you want, within reason of course, and let the boots sit for a while. After that time has expired, put the boots on, and walk in them for a while. This will tell you if you were successful or if you need to repeat the process.

Just to be clear, there are no guarantees the amount of stretch you get will last for a long time. Using a cobbler is the best method of them all.

Some Final Words

Neoprene is a great material when you are underwater or going out in cold weather. But do not buy the boots, clothing, or even the wet suit at a size that is too small for you. You won’t get a lot of stretch out of most neoprene options. By the size that fits just right so you can be comfortable all the time.

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