- Body oils.
- Sea water.
Don’t despair. We know a few tricks to keep every bathing costume in good condition!
God only knows you went through enough to actually find that suit in the first place. You’ve gone to great lengths to find something that fits and flatters your unique and beautiful body shape and reflects your style. And, more than likely, you paid a pretty penny for it.
Here’s what you need to do.
1. Rinse it.
This is the vital first step that almost everyone skips! As soon as you hop out of the water, whether it’s the pool, the ocean or a puddle, rinse your swimsuit. Chlorine, salt, sand, dirt, suntan lotion, sunscreen — all these particles damage your suit. Perspiration and oils from your skin (both natural and applied) will stretch and coat the fibers of your suit, and the chlorine fades the color. The grit of sand, salt, and dirt wear down the elastic.
So, as soon as you can, rinse your swimming suit in cool water. This will remove the bulk of the damaging particles until you’ve got the time to wash it properly.
We know that this is so tempting to do. When you’re leaving the gym or local pool, the logical place for your wetsuit is a waterproof bag — like our stylish Mermaid Clutch, for example.
Just don’t leave it in there! All the oils, chemicals, and salt that can damage the swimsuit are left to slowly work deeper into the fabric. Add the heat from the car or the sun, and you’ve got a damaging stew that will quickly destroy your swimsuit.
2. Wash it.
Wash your swimsuit every time you wear it in a bucket, basin, or sink with Molly’s Suds SWIM — even if you didn’t go in the water. The sunscreens, tanning oils, and sweat from sunbathing can be just as hard on your suit as the salt water, chlorine, and dirt from jumping in the water.
It’s important to note that chlorine is particularly hard on swimwear. It can fade bright colors and lead to yellowing on whites, thanks to a breakdown of the exterior of Spandex and Lycra fabrics, exposing the yellowed core underneath. Sunscreen is also prone to causing discoloration, especially those that contain Avobenzone or are mineral-based. Apply sunscreen carefully, and treat stains promptly.
Never, never put your swimsuit in the washer.
Washing machines are far too hard on this delicate garment. Straps, ties, and cups are easily damaged or tangled in the agitation of a washing machine, stretching, warping, and bunching the fabric. Even one time in a washing machine in a delicates bag can permanently damage your suit.
Always hand-wash your swimwear. Here are the steps to take.
- Fill a sink or a bucket with cool water.
- Add a generous squirt of SWIM™ or other gentle, all-natural laundry detergent, like our All Sport, to the water for each swimsuit you’re washing. These gentle detergents protect colors and safely eliminates oils and chemicals without damaging the fine fibers.
- Turn your swimsuits inside out and add them to the water. Swish the water with your hand to disperse the detergent and then let the suits soak for 30 minutes or more. (But don’t soak your suit overnight, as this will loosen fibers.)
- Rinse thoroughly with cool water. In fact, rinse longer than you think is necessary. This ensures any detergent residue or lingering sand is entirely whisked away.
Pro Tip: It’s best to use a detergent specially formulated for swimwear and delicates. A standard laundry detergent is too harsh for these delicate fabrics. SWIM™ is designed to precisely target chlorine and oils. Enzymatic breakdown of bacteria helps keeps odors at bay and preserves the color of your suit. If you don’t have SWIM™ on hand, All Sport or our Liquid Laundry Detergent are your next best choices. Really in a pinch? Just add a generous splash of white vinegar to the water to deodorize and deter bacteria.
3. Deal With Stains Right Away
It’s summertime. Stains will happen eventually.
Usually, there’s no need to panic. Most stains can be easily removed with a little extra detergent on the area and a little extra TLC. It is very important to deal with any stain as quickly as possible, and always remember to turn your suit inside out to rinse the stain back out of the fibers before starting pretreatment.
Check out Stain Central for tips for removing tanning oil or sunscreen, self-tanning lotions, wine, coffee and tea stains and more!
Never, never use a chlorine bleach to whiten or remove stains.
Chlorine bleach is way too hard on bathing suits — that’s why you’re rinsing it as soon as you get out of the pool! Chlorine bleach will discolor your swimwear. Don’t use it!
4. Squeeeeeze it.
The best way to dry a sopping wet swimming suit is to lay it flat on a clean towel and roll it up. (Do Not use the same towel you had down by the pool or at the beach. That towel has soaked up all of the chemicals from the chlorine in the pool, and can reintroduce oils, sand, and chlorine right back into that clean suit!) Squeeze it gently to soak up all that excess water. Don’t expect it to be totally dry, though. It still needs some time to air dry. Lay your suit flat in the shade to dry.
Never, never put it in the dryer.
For the love of all things summer, don’t put swimwear in the dryer! These delicate fibers, long ties, and cups can’t handle a dryer. The heat and tumble wreak havoc on those elastic fibers, stretching them out and warping them.
Never, never wring out your swimsuit.
Even if it seems like a great idea in the moment as it is dripping on your bathroom floor, resist! This can damage your suit in all the worst places.
The sun will fade colors and damage elasticity. And let’s just remember that if you don’t flip that swimming suit while drying, you’ll find the front of it is two shades lighter than the back.
Never, never dry it hanging up.
Hanging a swimsuit (especially by the ties or shoulder straps) can stretch the fabric and lead to unnatural warping and seriously unsightly drooping. Don’t do it.
5. Give it a break.
Avoid wearing the same swimsuit more than once in 24 hours. Most swimming suits, from bikinis to one-pieces and rash guards, are made from spandex or Lycra. Both of these are ‘memory fabrics’. This is great for conforming to your naturally gorgeous shape, but it also means that after it’s been worn and exposed to heat, sun, and chemicals, it needs some time to snap back.
If you’re on vacation, make the space for two bathing suits. If you are lucky enough to live at the beach, make sure you give your favorite suit a break for at least 24 hours. (Remember, you need time to wash and dry it completely.)
Never, never wear the same swimsuit from the sun to the pool and back to sunbathing again.
If you plan to sunbathe after swimming, change into a dry swimming suit. The combination of chlorine or salt water, sweat, sunscreen, and then heat and sunshine are seriously damaging. And switching up your suits will help you avoid defined tan lines.
6. Store it.
Always wash your swimsuit before tucking it away for the year — or even just for a few weeks. If you leave chemicals and oils in the fabric, they will continue to break down your suit until you pull it back out again. Brittle fibers, stretched elastic, and a warped shape is what you’ll find next time you take it out!
Never, never store a swimsuit in an airtight plastic container.
Even if you’re 110% sure that it’s completely dry, just don’t do it. It’s a recipe for mildew and a ruined suit. Instead, opt for a dresser drawer, fabric garment bag, or other option.
1. Stay out of the hot tub.
If you love your swimsuit, stay out of the hot tubs. The combination of heat and chemicals will fade and stretch your suit faster than anything else. Instead of putting on your favorite bikini, choose an older costume that you don’t care about.
If you simply must wear your best bikini, at least be sure to wash it as soon as you get out of the tub.
Find yourself in hot tubs often? Choose a suit that is 100% polyester or that is labeled chlorine resistant. Cotton, natural fibers, Spandex, and Lycra won’t hold up well.
2. Be careful where you sit.
The pavement at the pool is made to be rough. This helps prevent slipping on the watery cement. Even if it doesn’t feel rough to your skin, it will be rough on your suit. Just a few minutes of sitting on cement, pavement, or rough wood can snag your suit. Once snagged, there’s nothing you can do to stop the run in the fabric.
The solution is simple — always sit on a towel. Have a towel to dry off with that you keep in your beach bag and bring another specifically for sitting on.
3. Invest based on function.
If you live at the beach, invest in a good quality suit. If you’re only hitting the pool once or twice a year, you can get away with lower quality. The better the quality of the suit, the longer it will last.
Consider function before you buy as well. Sunbathing? Maybe skip the wild straps and monokini cutouts. Planning on surfing or boogie boarding? You’ll want a suit with a little more support and coverage (those waves get frisky).
It’s best to have a suit for each activity, and always more than two so you can swap them out. This might mean a high-quality suit for swim team and a cheaper suit for sunbathing while on vacation.
Have More Laundry Quandaries? Get in touch!
We’ve made it our business to be experts in laundry care, so we’ve got plenty of know-how to share. If you have more questions, we’ll have more answers! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t already, we’d love for you to check out our all natural laundry and home care products. We never formulate with harsh, harmful chemicals or any known human toxins. Instead, we choose to use naturally-derived ingredients that are Always Safe For People & the Planet.