How to Wash and Care for a Bathing Suit

swimsuit care
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Bathing suits or swimsuits for women are expensive and leaning how to take care of them will keep them looking great all season. Whether you use your swimsuit daily or just once in a while when vacationing, the fabric can take a beating from pool chemicals, sand, temperatures and sunscreen lotions.

How to Wash and Dry a Bathing Suit

Your swimsuit should be rinsed as soon as possible in cool, tap water after each time you wear it whether for swimming or sunbathing.

If you have time to allow the suit to soak in cool water for 30 minutes, that is even better for the fabric. This will remove most of the chemicals and sand and body soil that can damage the fabric.

Perspiration and body oils react with the elasticity of the fibers causing them to stretch so removing them as soon as possible is important to help a swimsuit keep its shape.  Almost every swimsuit contains spandex or Lycra, so again, prompt cleaning is important. The chlorine in pools and hot tubs can harm a swimsuit's elasticity and cause the fabric to change color. White swimsuits are particularly susceptible to chlorine and will turn yellow because chlorine eats away the white fibers surrounding the inner yellow cor of synthetic fibers.

After rinsing out the suit, you must hand wash your suit. Plain water does not remove all of the salt or chlorine. Refill the sink with cool water and add just a tablespoon or less of liquid laundry detergent.

Don't use powders because they may not dissolve completely or rinse away well. And, never use chlorine bleach. If you are in a pinch, you can use just a dab of shampoo to wash your suit. Skip any combination products that contain hair conditioners.

Turn your swimsuit inside out and submerge it in the water.

Swish for several minutes and then rinse well. Gently squeeze - don't wring - the water out of the fabric. Spread your suit flat to dry in a spot out of direct sunlight. The UV rays from the sun can both fade and break down the fibers in your suit. Never use an automatic clothes dryer.

Sunscreens and self-tanners can leave hard to remove stains on swimwear. Learn how to remove them correctly and treat the stains as soon as possible:

Tips to Make Your Bathing Suit Last Longer

  • Alternate swimsuits. Giving your suit 24 hours of rest between wearings will help the Lycra/spandex yarn regain its memory shape.
  • Find a shower. Before you head home with your swimsuit, find a shower or sink to rinse out the sand, salt and chlorine from your suit. Keep a large plastic zip top bag in your beach tote to hold the suit until you get home and can wash it properly.
  • Watch where you sit. Most pool sides and decks are rough so that you won't slip on them when they are wet. Even if the surface doesn't seem too rough, it is to your bathing suit. Always sit or lay on a towel. Be careful when rising from an inside pool or hot tub bench. Once a swimsuit is snagged it cannot be repaired.
  • Sunbathe first, then swim. If you plan to sunbathe after swimming, change into a dry suit. The combination of chlorine from the pool, body perspiration and suntanning lotions are the most damaging to the fabric of a swimsuit.
  • Skip the hot tub. Hot tubs offer a double whammy of excessive chemicals and high heat which will fade and stretch a suit out very quickly. If possible, wear an older suit in a hot tub that you won't mind losing. Or, rinse out your suit as quickly as possible. For frequent hot tub use, choose a suit that is 100 percent polyester or chlorine resistant. Cotton and natural fibers will not hold up in the chlorinated water.
  • Think function. If you only wear a swimsuit to sunbathe or go to the beach once per year, you may be fine with a less expensive suit that will last only a season. If you are a frequent swimmer and live in a suit, choose a well-made, more expensive suit that will fit your level of activity and comfort.

Learn how to care for all water-related gear - life jackets, wet suits, rash guards and competition swim racewear.