How to Clean Neoprene: A Step-by-Step Guide for Horse Owners
A horse owner understands that maintenance extends beyond merely feeding and grooming; it spills over into caring for all things related to the horse – like neoprene gear. As an incredibly versatile material, neoprene is often used in equestrian accessories due to its durability, water resistance, and cushioning characteristics. Yet, like most things that see regular use, neoprene items will inevitably become dirty and require a thorough cleaning.
Before we delve into the cleaning process, it is crucial to comprehend the nature of neoprene and its fundamental properties. An excellent synthetic rubber, neoprene has high tensile strength and excellent resistance to sun, ozone, and weather. It is also resistant to damage from oils, chemicals, and solvents, making it an ideal choice for horse equipment, like saddle pads, girths, and boots. Yet despite its toughness, neoprene also requires specific care to prolong its lifespan.
Neoprene, like our skin, breathes. It is made up of countless tiny air bubbles that allow air and water to pass through. When dirt and sweat build up in these air pockets, it can cause the neoprene to degrade over time, eventually reducing its performance and potentially causing discomfort to the horse. That’s why it is essential to clean your neoprene gear regularly.
Commencing the Cleaning Process
Cleaning neoprene is not a daunting task, and by following the steps outlined below, you can ensure your horse’s neoprene accessories are always in tip-top shape.
Firstly, gather your cleaning materials. While many items can be used, we recommend using a mild detergent or specialty neoprene cleaner such as Jaws Slosh (Wetsuit Shampoo), which is designed specifically for neoprene and other watersports gear. The solution is concentrated, biodegradable, and effectively removes grime and odors, making it an excellent choice for cleaning your horse’s neoprene equipment.
Cleaning Neoprene Step-by-Step
1. Remove loose dirt: Brush away any dried mud or loose dirt from the neoprene item using a soft-bristled brush. Brushes like this soft cleaning brush or even a toothbrush work great as they are designed to agitate and release grime and dirt.
2. Pre-rinse: Rinse the neoprene item under cold water to remove any remaining loose dirt and to wet the surface for cleaning.
3. Apply detergent: Mix your selected detergent (we recommend Nikwax Rug Wash for horse blankets or Jaws Slosh (Wetsuit Shampoo)) with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once ready, use a soft cloth or sponge to apply the cleaning solution to the neoprene item. Scrub gently to ensure the solution penetrates into the pores of the material, breaking down any accumulated sweat and grime.
4. Rinse and repeat: Rinse the item thoroughly with cold water, ensuring all detergent is removed. If necessary, repeat steps 3 and 4 until the item is clean.
5. Dry: Once clean, leave the neoprene item to air dry away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Do not use a tumble dryer or any other heated drying methods, as high temperatures can cause neoprene to degrade and lose its flexibility.
Maintaining the cleanliness of your horse’s neoprene gear is not only beneficial for the longevity of the products but also for the comfort and health of your horse. Make it a habit to inspect and clean neoprene items after each use and implement a more thorough cleaning at least once a month or as needed. It might seem like an additional chore, but the benefits are well worth the effort. A well-maintained set of horse gear is conducive to a happier and healthier horse, and ultimately, a more enjoyable ride for you.
Remember, while cleaning neoprene can be done using common household detergents, specialized cleaners like Jaws Slosh (Wetsuit Shampoo) are designed to cleanse and condition neoprene items, providing superior results and longevity.
Wetsuits are made entirely of Neoprene so this video is an excellent resource for additional information:
Deep Cleaning Neoprene
While regular cleaning will manage most dirt and grime, deeper, more persistent stains might call for a more comprehensive approach. In such cases, you may want to consider using a cleaner and stain remover specifically designed for neoprene. One such product is again the Jaws Slosh (Wetsuit Shampoo), which is excellent for treating stubborn stains and odors.
To perform a deep cleaning:
1. Repeat the initial steps of the basic cleaning procedure: remove loose dirt, pre-rinse, and apply your regular detergent. Rinse thoroughly.
2. Next, apply the Jaws Slosh (Wetsuit Shampoo). Ensure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
3. Rinse again: As with basic cleaning, ensure all cleaning product is removed from the neoprene.
4. Dry: Allow the item to air dry in a shaded, well-ventilated area.
Maintaining Neoprene Alongside cleaning, routine maintenance can also extend the lifespan of your neoprene items. Consider using a conditioner the Jaws Slosh (Wetsuit Shampoo). This product not only helps to remove persistent smells but also conditions and preserves neoprene. The formula is safe for all high-performance gear and will help keep your neoprene equipment fresh and comfortable for your horse.
Other Useful Tips
When it comes to maintaining neoprene horse gear, some additional points to bear in mind include:
1. Regular inspection: Always check for signs of wear or damage. This includes looking for any rips, loose stitching, or areas where the neoprene is thinning.
2. Immediate cleaning: If your horse’s gear gets particularly dirty or muddy, try to clean it as soon as possible. Leaving the dirt can make it harder to clean later on and potentially damage the material.
3. Proper storage: Store your neoprene items in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight when not in use.
4. Avoid sharp objects: Be careful when using any sharp objects around your neoprene items, as they can easily puncture or tear the material.
Your neoprene horse gear deserves as much attention as any other part of your horse’s kit. Regular cleaning and proper maintenance can ensure your neoprene items last longer and continue to provide the comfort and protection your horse needs. And remember, well-kept gear is not just a sign of a responsible horse owner, it also contributes to a more satisfying and enjoyable equestrian experience for both you and your horse. So, keep that neoprene clean!