10 Tips for Properly Washing Your Swimsuits

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10 Tips for Properly Washing Your Swimsuits

Quality swimwear for women and men may be hard to find, but by following a few simple steps, it is not hard to take care of. Once you find that perfect bikini or swim shorts, it is important to care for your swimwear well so it lasts you a long time. The most important thing one can do for a swimsuit is to rinse it immediately after use and wash it after a day at the beach or pool. The ultimate goal of swimsuit care is to eliminate the chemicals and substances that harm its delicate fibers, including saltwater, chlorine, perspiration, oil from skin, sunscreen, suntan lotion, dirt, and sand. The materials that give a suit its vibrant hues and sleek fit are susceptible to deterioration when exposed to the elements. Certain cleaning methods, however, can do more harm than good, so it is important that one wash the suit gently. Aside from washing, there are other factors to consider, including mildew prevention and avoiding picks and fraying. With proper care, a quality swimsuit can hold its color and shape for several seasons.

For more general information on buying a swimsuit, check out this video:

Tip #1: Identify Bathing Suit Materials

Swimsuits are usually made from a blend of fabrics for optimal fit and style. The following are the most common materials used for swimsuits. Knowing a swimsuit's material can be helpful when caring for it since some are more fragile than others.


Characteristics and Use


Stylish but not form-fitting; occasionally blended with spandex or polyester; not durable when exposed to chlorine


Most common fabric in swimwear; strong, lightweight, fits closely to the body; however, not durable in strong sunlight, fades and frays


Elastic like nylon, but not as strong or lightweight; better withstands chlorine than spandex; good for hot tubs

Spandex or Lycra

Highly elastic and form-fitting; widely used in swimsuit fabrics; competitive suits contain a large percentage of spandex; susceptible to chlorine, salt, and other substances that affect elasticity

Chlorine Resistant Fabrics

Used particularly for competitive swimwear, either out of polyester or treated spandex; examples include Speedo's Endurance+ and Chloroban

Once you know what a swimsuit consists of, it is simple to care for it properly. Caring for a swimsuit extends its life span and may allow you to avoid buying a swimsuit next summer.

Tip #2: Rinse and Wash With Care

Attentive personal care of a swimsuit involves making sure that chemicals and elements that can harm it are eliminated as soon as possible after exposure. Always read the manufacturer's instructions labeled inside the swimsuit, as the suit may require special care not listed here.

Rinse Immediately After Use

One of the most fundamental steps in caring for a swimsuit is to rinse it with cold tap water after wearing it, whether swimming or merely sunbathing. Salt water, chlorine, body oils, sunscreen, dirt, sand, and other substances can damage the elasticity of swimsuit material; rinsing after use helps remove these and prevents them from eating away at the fibers. If the swimming pool or beach has cold outdoor showers, rinse off there. If not, remove the suit and rinse in a sink with cold water.

Ideally, if the suit is being worn for an extended period, it should be rinsed after each swim, before sunbathing. For greater swimsuit longevity, minimize sunbathing after swimming, since the combination of sun and chemicals can accelerate the deterioration process.

Hand Wash After Wearing

Most experts recommend hand washing your suit. In addition to rinsing immediately after wearing a swimsuit, washing it at the end of that day is also an essential step in swimsuit care. Fill a sink with cool water and add a small amount of mild liquid hand soap or detergent meant for delicates. Let the bathing suit soak for 15 minutes, then gently massage with hands to work out the chemicals and dirt. Drain the soapy water and rinse until the water runs clear. Never wring or twist the swimsuit. For racing or water polo swimsuits, manufacturers recommend washing with cold water only.

Washing Machines

Washing machines are not recommended for swimsuits for women. Even if set on the gentle cycle, agitation can be destructive to a swimsuit's many components, including elastic straps, padding in cups, and decorative elements. Therefore, many experts recommend never machine washing a swimsuit.

However, there are some who recommend washing a bathing suit in a machine after every four or five uses, since it removes considerably more dirt, chlorine, oil, and salt than hand washing alone. For those who prefer to machine wash, placing the swimsuit in a mesh washing bag or pillowcase helps minimize the risk that the suit tears, stretches, or twists around the machine or another article of clothing. Wash the suit on the delicate, cold cycle, together with a pair of towels or other delicates to help protect the suit from over-agitation.

Suits with decorative features, like sequins or glitter, should be hand washed only. Always read the manufacturer's instructions on the garment itself.

Removing Sunscreen Stains from a Swimsuit

The best anti-stain method is to prevent stains in the first place, by letting sunscreen absorb before putting on the bathing suit. If sunscreen oil stains occur, baking soda or vinegar are gentle cleaners that may help remove them.
Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda directly onto the stain, and allow it to sit for one to two hours before washing gently as directed above.

If using vinegar, dilute one part white vinegar in three parts warm water, and soak the stain. White vinegar can also be applied directly to the stain. After soaking, wash according to the above directions.

Tip #3: How to Dry a Swimsuit

Never wring a swimsuit out because it can easily damage the delicate fibers and cause the suit to lose its shape. Instead, lay it flat between two dry towels, roll the towels up, and gently press the towels so they absorb the excess water. The swimsuit should not be left too long in the towels, however, or it may get mildewy.

Alternatively, suits can be placed flat in a ventilated area. Bathing suits should not be hung to dry since water collecting at the bottom can stretch the fabric. Dry out of direct sunlight to prevent fading.

Electric dryers should not be used, as the heat is particularly damaging to elastic fabrics. Basket dryers available at some swimming pools may also damage suits through excessive agitation and wringing. Swimsuits should be completely dry before storing.

Tip #4: Avoid Dry Cleaning, Ironing, and Bleaching

Bleach should not be used on bathing suits since it causes discoloration and damage. Swimsuits should not be ironed. If wrinkling occurs, simply dampen the suit slightly, and they should fall out. Swimsuits should not be dry cleaned.

Tip #5: Short-Term and Long-Term Storage

Wet or damp swimsuits should not be stored in a plastic bag. Mildew can grow very quickly in dark, wet environments. If, when traveling, a wet suit needs to be packed, poke holes in the plastic bag and wrap a towel around the bag to catch extra moisture. Store the suit flat on a shelf, in a lined box, or even in a shoe box, which helps to preserve the shape of the suit.

Tip #6: Washing a New Bathing Suit

Soaking a new bathing suit in vinegar helps prevent the colors from fading or bleeding, keeping them brighter for longer. To soak properly, add about a tablespoon of white vinegar to a quart of water in a bowl. Add the bathing suit, and allow it to soak for 30 minutes. Then, gently massage it with fingertips. Do not wring the swimsuit; instead, squeeze it very gently a few times to remove excess water. To dry, place it flat between two towels and roll them up, as discussed above. Alternatively, the suit can be laid flat in a ventilated area. Direct, bright sunlight should be avoided when drying to prevent fading.

Tip #7: Shower Before Wearing

Showering before putting on a swimsuit does much to eliminate substances that cause deterioration including dirt, perspiration, oil, body lotion, perfume, deodorant, and makeup. Stains caused by these toiletries may be difficult to remove. 

Tip #8: Rinse Swimsuit Before Swimming

Rinsing the suit before swimming reduces the amount of chlorine it absorbs. A wet suit is not as porous as a dry suit, and a suit that's already damp has no more room to soak up additional water. 

Tip #9: Avoid Rough Surfaces

When sitting or laying on harsh surfaces, such as concrete or other non-skid material around pools, take care not to sit directly on the ground. Instead, lay down a towel to protect the bathing suit from picking or fraying. Also, be careful if sitting on wooden chairs or benches, since splinters can snag a bathing suit's material.

Tip #10: Alternate Swimsuits

If possible, have two suits on hand and alternate wearing them. Most swimsuits contain spandex, which is a memory fabric. It needs 24 hours before it can return to its original shape. If one suit is lighter-colored, it fades less during a long day under the bright sun than a dark-colored suit. In Jacuzzis, the combination of hot water and chlorine can also be particularly harsh on bathing suits. For those who frequent hot tubs, experts recommend designating a less expensive swimsuit for Jacuzzi wear, preferably one made from 100 percent polyester.

Buying Swimsuits on eBay

eBay has a wide array of swimsuits for men and women available, far more than any store or other online retailer. You can look for specific items using the search bar on any eBay page, or you can browse listings under the Fashion category. To see the broadest selection of swimwear, type in the keywords "men's swimsuits" or "women's swimsuits" into the search bar, and hit Enter, which returns every swimsuit listing on the site. You can then filter the results by brand, size, color, material, or style. 

Before purchasing an item, read the product description carefully to make sure it is what you are looking for. Check details like size, whether it is used or new, and what the seller's return policy is. You can get to know more about the seller by reading feedback from prior customers. Sellers with a lot of good reviews are a better, safer bet than sellers with a lot of negative feedback. Top-rated sellers consistently offer the highest level of customer service.


A good swimsuit can be an asset to any wardrobe; yet, with frequent exposure to the sun, salt, chlorine, perspiration, and more, the swimsuit's colors and shape deteriorate. Special attention is needed to protect one's swimsuit to keep it looking its best. Some essential steps are rinsing it in cold water directly after use, washing later that day or evening, and allowing it to air dry flat. A swimsuit should never be dry cleaned, bleached, ironed, or placed in an electric dryer. Also, most experts caution against using a washing machine. In some cases, however, a washing machine may be desirable and acceptable, in which case, the suit should be washed in a mesh bag on the gentle cycle. There are several other steps one can take to ensure a swimsuit keeps its colors bright and its shape and elasticity optimal. These include showering before use, rinsing the suit before swimming, avoiding rough surfaces, and rotating two or more swimsuits. Personal care of a swimsuit is not difficult and can extend the life of your suit considerably.

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