How to Wash Swimsuits Properly

woman wearing red swimsuit

Finding and purchasing the ideal swimsuit for you is an investment, one that you want to last as long as possible. The proper washing and drying technique is key to making your cute bathing suit last as long as possible. Here are seven steps to washing your swimsuits and making them last:

Learn 8 Ways to Extend Extend The Life of Your Bathing Suits

Rinse it out immediately.

Sitting in a wet swimsuit isn’t fun for anyone, and what’s more, it can contribute to swimsuit damage. Chlorine in pool water can break down both the elastic and the color of swimsuit fabric, and so can sunscreen, deodorant, perspiration, body oils and other substances. Once you’re ready to go home, change out of your swimsuit and rinse it out with cold water (make sure not to roll it up in a dirty towel or you’ll defeat the purpose of rinsing it out!). Then, wash it as soon as you get home.

Shake out the sand.

If you were at the beach and not the pool, then you might have gotten sand all up in your swimsuit. This needs to be removed before you wash it. First, take the swimsuit outside and shake it out. Then, turn it inside out and shake it again until you’re gotten rid of as much sand as possible. Take it back inside and use cold water to rinse out the rest of the remaining sand. If you’re at a beach house with an outside shower, you can also do it there so the sand doesn’t clog up the drains inside.

adjusting cups of bathing suit top

Always hand wash.

We know how tempting it is to throw your swimsuits into the washing machine with the rest of your clothes, but if you want to make them last as long as possible, then you should hand wash them alongside your other delicates. The agitation of the washing machine, plus the hot water and strong detergent, can break down the swimsuit fibers faster—not to mention, stretch out the swimsuit. Instead, wash it by hand in cold water using mild soap specifically meant for hand washing delicates. Let it soak for up to 30 minutes and then remove the bathing suit and rinse it out using more cold water.

Lay flat to dry.

Don’t wring out the bathing suit, as this will stretch out the fibers. If it’s really dripping wet, then you can use a clean, absorbent towel to gently pat it dry. Don’t throw it in the dryer either, as the heat isn’t good for most bathing suit materials. Instead, lay it flat to dry, ideally on a drying rack that will allow air to circulate around it. Hanging it from a doorknob or hanger will cause water to pool at the bottom, increasing drying time and potentially deforming the swimsuit. Also, try to keep it out of direct sunlight, as you want to cut down on potential UV damage when you’re not wearing the bathing suit. 

Get out those stains.

Baking soda and white vinegar are tried-and-true DIY solutions when it comes to washing fabrics and getting out general stains. If you’re dealing with sunscreen stains, then you’ll need a slightly different approach. These orange stains result when the chemical avobenzone in sunscreens interacts with iron in water, causing what’s essentially a rust stain. To treat these sunscreen stains naturally, cover the area with lemon juice, dump some salt on it and leave it to sit overnight. To prevent these stains from happening, use a chemical sunscreen that doesn’t include avobenzone or switch to a mineral sunscreen instead.

trio of smiling women on beach

Rotate your swimsuits.

Swimsuit fibers need at least 24 hours to go back to their original shape once you’re done wearing it. If you’re going to be wearing a swimsuit every single day—for instance, during a beach vacation—then bring at least two swimsuits so you can rotate them every other day. This will also give each swimsuit plenty of time to air dry in between washings so you don’t have to struggle into a wet swimsuit first thing in the morning.

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Watch where you sit.

Rough surfaces such as concrete and wood can harm the surfaces of delicate fabrics such as swimsuits. Put on a long cover-up or throw down a towel before sitting on these surfaces to prevent your swimsuit from tearing or pilling. If you do get pilling, a common issue with older swimsuits, then you can remove those annoying little fabric balls using a clothes shaver and a steady hand.

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