by Ali Conway July 21, 2020

Bathing suits are often worn heavily during the summer – which is great and serves as a testament to having a truly enjoyable time all summer long. But heavy wear usually means you’re washing your swimsuit more frequently. Unfortunately, bathing suits are a delicate wardrobe item, and you may be finding that heavy washing is leading to an undesirable look, particularly if you aren’t buying well-made, quality suits. 

On the bright side, how you are washing your swimsuit can be having a huge impact on how well it is holding up. In many instances, small changes to your washing routine can be made that will increase your suit’s life expectancy and reduce the amount of wear you see. Our guide to washing swimsuits provides information that will help you ensure your bathing suit looks brilliant and fits as it should all summer long, and maybe even for many summers to come. 

how to wash swimsuits

The Importance of Rinsing

The vast majority of people wear their suit, change when they get home and throw it in the hamper so that it can get cleaned during the next load of laundry. But rinsing your suit as soon as possible can make a dramatic difference. With a quick rinse after you wear it or before you leave the beach or pool, you minimize how much time contaminants such as salt, chlorine, and sunscreen are left on the fabric. Sunscreens can be especially damaging to swimsuits. Those with minerals present can cause yellowing or staining over time. And chlorine exposure causes colors to fade much more quickly.

Without rinsing after use, these contaminants linger on the fabric in the hamper and can contribute to your swimsuit developing an undesirable odor, as well. Wearing your suit in the shower after a day at the pool or beach is the easiest way to rinse off harmful contaminants. And if that’s not possible, rinse it in the sink and remove excess water as soon as you can to minimize damage to the suit.

In addition to rinsing it after a day on the beach or in the water, you can prolong the life of your suit by rinsing itbefore you enter the water too. This process minimizes the amount of contaminants, such as chlorine and salt, that your suit can absorb once you enter the pool or any other body of water. The absolute best method is to take a quick shower wearing your suit both before and after it has been worn since this will protect both your swimsuit and your hair!

Removing Excess Water

After rinsing your suit, you will want to remove any excess water to prevent a musty smell from developing. But you must be sure that you aren’t wringing out your suit to remove this water. Wringing and twisting the suit can damage its shape and put stress on the individual fibers – which also contributes to overall wear. After you’ve removed the excess water, lay the suit flat to dry, avoiding direct sunlight.

How to Hand Wash a Swimsuit

While rinsing and drying the suit might work for a wear or two, you will still want a more thorough wash on a regular basis. Before washing it, always check the manufacturer’s labels on your swimsuit for the recommended washing settings. While some manufacturers use materials that are safe for machine-wash, the majority of swimsuits hold up better when they are hand-washed. Hand-washing can help your suit stay bright, keep its shape, and increase its longevity. 

To hand-wash a bathing suit properly, fill a sink with cold to warm water, and add a teaspoon of gentle laundry detergent. Ideally, you should use a detergent that is designed for delicate or spandex fabric. They are better at protecting the colors of these fabrics and removing damaging oils and chemicals from fine fibers. If you don’t have a mild laundry soap, you can also use white vinegar or baking soda, which are mild enough to provide a thorough cleaning without damaging your suit. Just be sure not to use these products together – select only one or the other.   

Swirl the suit around as it is submerged to ensure the cleaning solution permeates all parts of the bathing suit. You may also let it soak for a few moments, but no longer than 30 minutes. While many people think that soaking it longer will result in a cleaner suit, soaking for more than a half-hour can loosen the fibers in your suit. When the 30 minutes has elapsed, rinse all of the cleaning solutions of your suit with cool, clean water and dry it using the steps outlined below for optimal results.

How to Machine-Wash a Swimsuit

Using a washing machine to clean a bathing suit should only be done if the manufacturer’s recommendations indicate that it can be washed in a washing machine. Many bathing suits are hand-wash only due to the delicate nature of the fabrics commonly used. Putting these suits in the washing machine can ruin or damage them very quickly.

If you do have a suit that is approved for machine-washing, it is still essential to use the cold setting and a gentle detergent to prevent additional wear. If your suit has embellishments or strings, it’s also a good idea to use a mesh laundry bag to contain the suit so that none of its parts get caught or tangled in parts of the machine.   

How to Properly Dry a Bathing Suit

Unlike with washing, where some suits can be put in a machine-washer, no bathing suit should ever be dried in a dryer. The high heat found in a dryer can weaken the elasticity of the spandex or lycra fibers. You should also be cautious not to hand up the swimsuit to dry as it causes water to pool at the bottom of the swimsuit, stretching it out. And hanging it on metal rods or clothes hangers can also alter the shape of the bathing suit or leave rust marks, which is staining that is nearly impossible to remove. You should also not dry your swimsuit in direct sunlight, which can lead to premature color fading. 

The best way to dry a bathing suit is to remove the excess water by pressing it down on a flat surface, showing care not to wring it. To remove additional water, you can also roll your suit in a clean, dry towel. Finally, lie it on a flat surface to continue air drying. For instances when you need your suit before it is fully dry, you can use a hairdryer with a no-heat or low-heat setting to dry it faster. 

Take Care of What You’re Doing when Wearing Your Suit

In addition to following the recommended washing techniques covered here, there are other best practices that you can follow to get the most out of your swimsuit. Wear a special suit or one designated suit when going into hot tubs. Hot tubs are especially damaging to bathing suits, due to their high temperatures and high chlorine levels. You can also rinse while wearing your suit before entering chlorinated water. This process will minimize the amount of chlorine your suit absorbs and limit its damaging effects on your suit. 

Finding a swimsuit you truly love can help you feel confident and sexy all summer long. And when you have one or several suits that you love, it’s crucial to care for them properly so that you get the maximum amount of life and use from them as possible. For most instances, simply showering with your suit on after wearing it is totally sufficient to ensure that it is ready for your next adventure. However, when you want a more thorough cleaning, this article provides all the useful tips you need to make sure your bathing suit keeps its shape and color for as long as possible. 



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