10 Tips For Washing a Swimsuit

When you think of swimwear, you may think of lounging on a beach sunbathing, diving beneath the waves in the ocean, or laying by the swimming pool in your backyard. What you probably don’t think of is washing your swimsuit. If you want to have your perfect swimsuit stay looking vibrant and perfectly fitting, then follow our steps!

Washing a swimsuit is not a complicated process once you know the right steps to take (and what to avoid). To help you learn the best way to wash a swimsuit, we have compiled a comprehensive guide with our top ten tips for cleaning a bathing suit without aging it and to preserve the color and fabric, whether it’s a one-piece or bikini. Keep reading to learn everything from how to hand wash a swimsuit to drying it without compromising its fit!

Hot Tip: Did you know you should rotate swimsuits because it takes about 24 hours for the fibers to bounce back to shape after getting wet?

Our Tops 10 Tips for Cleaning a Bathing Suit (Without Aging It)

1. Wash it After Every Wear (Even If You Didn’t Go In Water)

Knowing how often to wash your bathing suit can be confusing without any point of reference, Should it be once a week? Once a month? Every time you go for a swim? The right frequency for washing your swimsuit is actually after each wear, even if you didn’t go in the water.

You may be wondering, why do I have to wash my swimsuit so often? Won’t that damage it? In fact, washing your swimsuit after every wear will help prevent your swimsuit from becoming discolored or damaged. The reason for this is because of all of the different products and chemicals that your bathing suit can come into contact with each time you wear it. Sunscreen, chlorine, deodorant, salt water, body and tanning oil, and lotion are all common examples of substances your swimsuit is likely to come into contact with and which can cause discoloration and damage.

The solution to this is not to stop wearing sunscreen and expose your skin to damage, but rather to take necessary steps to make sure the chance of swimsuit fabric damage or discoloration is minimized. The best way to do this is to wash your swimsuit after every wear to make sure all of the oils, chemicals, and products are washed out of the fabric before they can damage, stain, or discolor it.

Bonus Tip: to prevent this type of damage or discoloration, apply sunscreen, body or tanning oils, lotion, and/or deodorant at least thirty minutes prior to putting on your swimsuit so they absorb into the skin rather than the swimsuit fabric.

2. Find the Right Detergent

Finding the right detergent to use when washing your swimsuit can make a huge difference. It is important not to use the same detergent you use for the rest of your laundry as it is likely to be too harsh for swimsuit fabric. Instead, opt for a mild detergent that is designed for delicates or high spandex-content fabrics.

A mild detergent that is specially formulated for swimsuits will safely eliminate chemicals and oils like chlorine from the fine fabrics of the bathing suit without damaging them. In addition, detergents that are specially formulated for swimsuits often contain ingredients that neutralize the chemicals found in pool water to make sure they do not damage the swimsuit fabric.

3. Know Your Substitutes

Sometimes life happens and you may wear your bathing suit but not have a mild detergent on hand to use when washing it. What then? Instead of mild detergent, you can also use white vinegar as a substitute. White vinegar has antibacterial and deodorizing properties that can get your swimsuit clean and bacteria free. If you find yourself without gentle detergent or white vinegar, then rinse your swimsuit with clean, fresh water. Try to avoid hot water when rinsing your swimsuit as this can make the colors run together or fade. 

4. Always Get The Sand Out Before Washing

Have you ever been to the beach and come home only to find sand filling every nook and cranny of your favorite bathing suit? Don’t give in to your impulse to call it a lost cause! A few simple steps can help save your swimsuit from a sand-filled fate in the trash can.

If you find yourself with a sand-filled swimsuit, first be sure to take it outside and shake it off. By vigorously shaking your swimsuit, you can get off most of the external sand stuck to the fabric. Once you’ve done an initial shake, turn your garment inside out and shake it again.

Now it’s time to wash. Rinse your suit in cool water for ten minutes. Target areas where you can see sand in the fabric to rinse it out. Once you’ve done a full rinse on your swimsuit, lay it out flat to dry (somewhere away from direct sunlight).

If your swimsuit has dried completely, then it is ready for another vigorous shake outside to remove any remaining sand in the fabric. If for some reason you have some sand remaining, break out your blow dryer on the cool setting and blow out the last of the sand.

5. Never Use The Washing Machine

The washing machine may seem like the most logical place to wash your swimsuit after each wear, but you should never use the washing machine to wash a swimsuit. The agitation and movement in the washing machine are too rough for the delicate fibers of swimsuit fabric and can cause them to stretch, strain, and break down. This can ultimately leave your swimsuit damaged and ill-fitting. If you are looking to wash your swimsuit, always skip the washing machine and opt for a hand wash.

6. Hand Wash Only: Handle With Care

Speaking of hand washing, there is a method to hand washing to make sure your swimsuit comes out clean and undamaged every time.

To properly hand wash your garment, fill a tub or sink with cold water and mix the cold water with one capful of gentle detergent until it is completely dissolved. If needed, substitute the mild soap or detergent for white vinegar.

Once you have successfully made your cleaning solution, let your swimsuit soak in the soap solution for up to thirty minutes. Once thirty minutes has elapsed, remove your swimsuit from the cleaning solution and rinse it with cold water until all of the cleaning solution is gone.

Place your clean swimsuit in a clean, dry towel and gently press the towel into the swimsuit to remove excess water. You can also roll your swimsuit in the clean towel and press it to remove excess water. Once you have removed all of the excess water, lay your swimsuit out flat to dry.

7. Skip the Dryer

You may feel the urge to throw your damp swimsuit in the dryer to get it dry quickly, but faster isn’t always better. The dryer can actually be harmful to your swimsuit because it can agitate the delicate fibers of the swimsuit material causing it to become damaged and its high heat can compromise the elasticity of the fabric. Instead, lay your swimsuit out flat out to dry.

8. Lay Your Swimsuit Flat to Dry

Hanging your swimsuit to dry from a hanger or off a doorknob can seem like an appealing option, but this can actually damage your swimsuit and stretch it, which compromises its fit. When a bathing suit is hung to dry, the remaining water in the swimsuit will pool at the bottom of the swimsuit and can stretch the fibers out. In addition, drying it draped over something or hanging can deform the shape of the swimsuit. Always lay your swimsuit flat to dry to preserve its shape.

9. Never Wring Out Your Bathing Suit

When your bathing suit is sopping wet after rinsing, it may seem tempting to take it and wring out all of that excess water, but wringing your bathing suit can be damaging. When a bathing suit is wrung out, the fibers in the fabric can loosen, which can reduce the overall elasticity of the fibers of the swimsuit material. This reduction in elasticity can mean that over time instead of a perfectly fitting swimsuit you are now left with sagging bikini bottoms! Don’t wring out your bathing suit and preserve its shape for years to come. Pat it dry with a towel instead.

10. Don’t Dry Your Swimsuit in Direct Sunlight

Another common mistake when washing a swimsuit is to wash the swimsuit and then leave it to dry in direct sunlight. While this may speed up the drying time, it also causes the color of the swimsuit fabric to fade at an accelerated rate. When sunlight interacts with damp swimsuit fabric, the wet fabric will fade faster than when dry swimsuit fabric is exposed to sunlight. To preserve the color of your swimsuit, don’t dry your swimsuit in direct sunlight after you wash it.

The Importance of Cleaning Your Swimsuit

Cleaning your swimsuit properly and after each wear is incredibly important to preserve the color and fabric of the bathing suit. Just as with any other piece of clothing, your swimsuit is exposed to many different environments, chemicals, substances, and circumstances with each wear. You wouldn’t wear clothes out and not wash them afterward and your swimsuit should be approached with the same regard for cleaning.

In addition to proper cleaning, there are other simple steps you can take to make sure your swimsuit lasts for many seasons. Below are a few easy tips you can incorporate to make your swimsuit maintain its vibrancy and fit all year long.

Tips for Preserving Your Swimsuit

  • Avoid sitting on rough surfaces. Rough surfaces like concrete and wood can snag and damage the delicate fibers of your swimsuit. Always put down a towel before sitting or laying down to ensure your swimsuit is not damaged by rough surfaces.
  • Prep your new swimsuit before your first beach day. Before your first beach day, some experts suggest that you can help preserve your new swimsuit to prevent the dye from bleeding with this trick. Combine one tablespoon of white vinegar per quart of cold, fresh water in a sink or basin and soak your swimsuit in the mixture for thirty minutes. The vinegar and water mixture will prevent the dye from bleeding. (Note: we haven’t tried this one yet--let us know if you think this helps!)
  • Don’t wrap your swimsuit in your beach towel after taking it off. Above we discussed how many common products, like sunscreen, can damage your swimsuit fabric. If you wrap your swimsuit in your beach towel that was also exposed to those products, you are continuing to expose your swimsuit to potentially damaging elements.
  • Rotate your swimsuits. The high elasticity in the fibers of the swimsuit material needs at least twenty-four hours to tighten up and return to their original form. If you are wearing your swimsuit frequently, be sure to rotate swimsuits to allow the fibers time to tighten back up.