How To Clean Neoprene Chest Waders (And Tips On Caring For Fishing Waders)


chest waders

On those cold days, be you up to your armpits fishing for trout or kayak fishing and breaking ice with your boat, neoprene / dry suits are a lifesaver ( quite literally in some cases) However, in my experience from kayaking and fishing for over 30 years, there is nothing quite like the smell that wafts up when we take them off after a hard day fishing or paddling.

The only saving grace in my time as a paddler is that everyone else at least smells as bad. With fishing it may well be that it was just you in the water, and your family or friends are going to have to put up with that smell for a while on the way home.

Lets see if we can help with that and look at some of the more effective ways to take care of and importantly clean neoprene waders and suits.

Neoprene waders can be cleaned with laundry detergent without softener or bleach inside added. To be safe there are also specialist waterproof detergents and shampoo for wet / dry suits. Some waders are machine washable but check your brand. importantly make sure they can hang dry in a well ventilated area.

We will explore some of these methods, and tips to make sure those waders are clean, smell free and last longer than the two seasons they are likely to last if you dont take care of them below.

How to Clean Neoprene Chest Waders

We all know the feeling, or i hope its not just me, of pulling down the waders next to the car and getting a noseful of the bowls of hell. It is possible to mitigate this by spending a little time before and after your fishing trips. Just to temper those expectations, you are not going to have a set that is going to be smelling of roses, but it might at least mean you can drive back home with the windows up rather than down.

Simple Laundry Detergent

Hand washing with detergent in hot, but not boiling water is the most common way to rinse off that mud and smell. However make sure to choose a detergent that is non biological. This means no enzymes that they advertise on TV. Also be aware of color enhancers and added bleach.

You are fishing, the last thing you want is to be easy to spot. Although the main reason is waterproof material is delicate and this ingredients will do your waders no favors. Something like Ariel Non Bio detergent will be fine, just dissolve it in the water before starting to wash.

Specialized Waterproof and Wet Dry Suit Shampoos.

If you want to be extra safe with those 300 dollar waders you should be able to pick up some specialized neoprene and waterproof shampoos that are designed for the job (DWR – Durable Water Repellant Products). If you haven’t bought a pair of waders yet you can check out these on Amazon, however if you go to the shop its is VERY likely that they will also stock specific cleaning materials that you can pick up with your purchase.

Otherwise brands like Nikwax and Gear Aid (You can check the price) can be picked up fairly reasonably. They are likely to be designed for other waterproof clothing as well so could be multi purpose ( if you need a reason to justify the extra 10 bucks or so they cost)

How to Hand Wash Fishing Waders.

THe best way to hand wash fishing waders, chest waders and wetsuits is to do it in a bath of warm to hot (not crazy hot) water and mix in the correct amount of detergent, make sure it dissolves. Then use a sponge or cloth to clean the outside of the mud and dirt. However, and this is important, then turn them inside out. You may wipe the dirt off the outside but the smell is on the inside!

Wipe all the obvious areas on the inside, groin and backside but also do the legs and sweat drips down and will have settle towards the bottom of the waders as well.

Once you have finished then make sure to rinse off the excess detergent both inside and out and then hang them full length outside to dry ( more on this later)

When you’re done washing, rinse your waders with cold water. You can use the shower to rinse the waders or take them outside and spray them with a hose.

Can you use a washing machine to wash your waders

Drying Your waders

How to Care for Fishing waders

Types of Fishing Waders

Chest waders are very important for every angler in the world, right? Some waders are expensive and some are not. Waders help us in so many ways when fishing and catch our target in any condition of the day. For this reason, we want to keep them clean before and after use.

Even if your wader is clean on the outside but you find them uncomfortable when wearing them on it might be time to clean them. Did you know that cleaning will provide you greater comfort? Absolutely, that’s true! They will look better on you and can benefit your personal hygiene.

There are two options to wash your chest waders. You can hand wash or machine wash them. But also follow the care instructions provided with the waders to avoid unexpected and bad results when washing them. Wash them to the very best you can.

Maybe, you are now wondering what kind of detergent you might use? Ideally, a powder detergent or other powders that is non-biological. There are biological liquid detergents that have color and shine enhancers which are not ideal for waders as the fish can detect and see you easier as light is magnified under the water. Also, don’t add softeners because they are not designed for waders.

If washing machine is recommended by the manufacturer, you must tie up or remove the straps or you can even zip them into the pouch. Close all zips and use a delicate cycle with cold water and a cold rinse. It is necessary to air dry your waders and avoid tumble dry. If hand washing, make ensure to rinse the waders thoroughly to remove detergent residues before drying.

When it comes to fishing, we want to own a dependable pair of waders that can make a big difference in every individual’s comfort level. There are different styles of waders all around the world. There are also features to consider when choosing waders. Now, I’ll give you everything you need to know in this article.

The Three Types of Waders

chest waders

There are actually three types of waders; they are Hip Waders, Waist- High Waders, and Chest Waders. They come with different styles and measurement depending on the water depth you intend to wade into.

Hip Waders

These kind of waders are intended for water no deeper than knee-level. They are designed in two separate pieces- one for each leg. They have a unique designed which each side attaches to your belt with straps in order to prevent the wader from sliding down when wearing it. These hip waders are the lightest among the three of them. They are just easy to put on and take off. They also provide comfort even in a hot weather. These waders are ideal for smaller streams and shallows. Easy to pack and great to have on hand for any activities such as trailing boats and launching, hunting in boggy terrain and this is also an advantage for digging for clams.

Waist- High Waders

These waders fall in between hip waders and chest waders. It has a style as a baggy pair of pants and designed for water that is not deeper than mid-thigh. They are closely designed as pants. These waders have belt loops to hold them up. On the other hand, they can also be used with suspenders, if you would like to.  They have more coverage than hip waders, however not as restrictive as chest waders. The upper body part is completely exposed for convenient and breathability in warmer or hot kind of weather.

Chest Waders

These chest waders are the best option among the three waders. They have the maximum coverage so you can take a journey into everything from the ankle-deep streams to waist-deep river pools. The suspenders keep the chest waders secure to allow you to make any positions. They usually come in a baggy style for extra room. The coverage of chest waders can really help you fight with rogue waves, hidden holes, faster currents, stubborn fish landings and other unexpected problems where it becomes easy to tip your waders.

Chest waders are versatile and have the widest range of water depths. These waders are ideal for wading in rivers with deeper pools and stronger currents. They have the maximum protection from rain and wind.

The Wader Construction

chest waders

Wader construction is very important in an angler and fishermen out there! You are searching for a wader that will give you comfort and convenient in fishing. You might be searching for a wader that could stand in a cold or winter, and can protect you from feeling hot in the summer season.

Insulated Chest Waders

Insulated chest waders are made of neoprene material used for colder conditions and construct wetsuits. The neoprene waders are very warm, stretchy, waterproof and durable. It is really perfect for col-water wading. They come in various thicknesses which offer various degrees of warmth. These kinds of waders are generally less expensive than other waders. However, these neoprene made of waders are not breathable which means when you start working up a sweat, the moisture will likely be trapped inside of your wader. If you have a neoprene wader which has 7mm or greater of thickness they will make you buoyant which can be awkward for walking through deeper in a fast flowing water. For this reason, you can also consider the breathable kind of chest waders which won’t increase buoyancy.

Finishing Touch

After washing, always hang your waders out to dry thoroughly after use. If you used you waders in a saltwater area, rinse them well with fresh water before letting them dry. In this method, this will prevent salt deposits from forming. When storing waders, ensure that the waders are totally dry before hanging them up in a cool and dark place with no direct of sunlight. Lastly, avoid leaving your waders sitting in the sun for a long period of time.

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