Neoprene, scuba knit, the soft, sculptural fabric once relegated exclusively to wetsuits and laptop cases has well and truly infiltrated both our swimwear and ready-to-wear closets alike, thanks to designers such as Lisa-Marie Fernandez, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Alexander Wang, Scanlan Theodore and Duskii. But wearer be warned, the hottest fabric around is just that, literally and figuratively, due to its thermal and moisture retention properties, which can cause build-up of grime and other gross stuff that is just not chic to mention.
Now that this traditional aquatic wear has transitioned from the beach to the street, it’s important to note just how to clean it with the care it requires. Do not be misled by its tough and durable exterior; neoprene is a sensitive beast that needs care and attention to protect its lifespan and wearability. Dry-cleaning is generally the go-to cleaning solution on care instructions (and yes, we concur, always follow care instructions), however, here are some hot tips for cleaning your garment in between those often times costly trips to the dry cleaners.
Step 1: Air-time is key. It’s super important to hang up your neoprene piece directly after wear. Once it’s crushed or folded, it’s a real challenge to get those stubborn creases out of the fabric. Hang your piece indoors away from direct sunlight, which can cause the material to dry out and crack. Only allow the product to be exposed to the sun when being worn and store it away in your wardrobe.
Step 2: What about washing? Some information suggests that you can machine wash your neoprene on a delicates setting but we’d avoid the machine altogether just to be safe and hand wash it in water below 40 degrees Celsius. Mild detergent may be used, however make sure you rinse the pieces properly. 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.
Step 3: Dry it right. Let’s be clear: under no circumstances should you tumble dry your neoprene. Extreme heat will melt the fabric and render you a blubbering mess on your laundry room floor. To avoid this thoroughly emosh’ experience, allow your neoprene clothes to dry flat on a towel or hang them by their ribbon tags on coat hangers. This will ensure that folds do not occur whilst they dry leading to weak spots in the material.
Extra note: For your neoprene swimwear. You can afford to be a little more intensive when cleaning your swimwear. After all, it’s constantly exposed to salt water and water-cleaning chemicals so it requires a thorough wash. Hand-wash your swimwear after every wear in plain cool water and dry as above. Aussie swimwear brand Duskii creates supple Bond Girl-esque neoprene swimwear and director Patreece Botheras says that the fabric is certainly prone to the odd saltwater stain. “If there is a stubborn salt water mark, some warm-hot water rubbed just on that mark and then bathed in the warm water for a short while should do the trick,” she told GRAZIA.
Cover image: Long sleeve boy leg spring suits by Duskii. SHOP NOW