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How to Wash and Care for a Swimsuit
Mary Marlowe Leverette

Swimsuits or bathing suits are expensive and learning how to take care of them will keep you looking great all season. Whether you use your swimsuit daily or just on occasion, the fabric can take a beating from pool chemicals, sand, temperatures and lotions.

How to Wash and Dry a Swimsuit

Your swimsuit should be rinsed 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 for 30 minutes, even better. This will remove most of the chemicals and sand and body soil that harm 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. The chlorine in pools can harm a swimsuit's elasticity and cause the fabric to yellow. Almost every swimsuit contains spandex or Lycra, so again prompt cleaning is important.

After rinsing out the suit, you must wash your suit. Plain water does not remove all the salt or chlorine. Refill the sink with water and add just a tablespoon or less of liquid detergent. Don't use powders because they may not dissolve completely or rinse away well. And, never use bleach. Turn your swimsuit inside out. 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 a dryer.

Do not put your suit in the washer, even in a mesh bag. The agitation and spinning is too harsh for your suit. Quite often the bra cups can become misshapen and cannot be smoothed.

Never iron your suit. If there are wrinkles, dampen the suit and they will fall out. Be sure your suit is completely dry before storing.

  • Alternate swimsuits. Giving your suit 24 hours of rest between wearing 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.
  • Watch where you sit. Most pool sides and decks are rough so that you won't slip when they are wet. Even if it doesn't seem too rough, it is to your 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 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 swimsuits 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.


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