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Article: How to wash swimsuits

Woman in a two-piece bathing suit swims in a water—How to wash swimsuits.

How to wash swimsuits

Wash swimsuits properly to avoid faded colors, stretched fabric, and deterioration. Follow these simple steps for vibrant, well-fitted swimwear.

Quick links:

How to prepare swimwear for washing

How to wash swimsuits by hand

How to wash swimsuits in the washing machine

How to dry swimwear

How to prepare swimwear for washing

A well-washed swimsuit requires a little bit of preparation. Before you start scrubbing, follow these simple steps:

  1. Rinse off dirt
  2. Check care labels
  3. Pretreat stains
  4. Sort by color and fabrics

Rinse off dirt and sand

Give your bathing suits a quick rinse under cold water to remove any loose dirt, sand, hair, or debris caught in the fabric before washing. This quick rinse prevents dirt and sand from getting ground into the fabric during the washing machine's spin cycle.

Check care labels

Always check the care labels on your swimsuits for any specific instructions. Care labels indicate the fabric types and recommended cleaning methods.

Pretreat stains

Sunscreen, sweat, chlorine, and pool and beach grime create stubborn stains. Soak the affected area in cool water with a mild detergent, or apply a stain remover stick/spray to pretreat stains. This will loosen and lift the stains during the main wash cycle.

Sort by color and fabric

If machine washing, group swimsuits with like colors and fabrics: whites, darks, delicates (silk), and sturdy synthetics (nylon and polyester) should be handled separately. Grouping prevents bleeding, fading, snagging, and other damage.

How to wash swimsuits by hand

Many people prefer to handwash delicate swimwear. It allows you to control the process and prevents excessive agitation that causes damage. Here's how to properly hand-wash your swimsuits:

  1. Use cold water. Fill a small tub or sink with cold water. Hot water causes colors to bleed and fabrics to stretch out over time. 
  2. Add mild detergent. Skip the regular laundry detergent; opt for a gentle detergent or swimsuit cleaner instead. Milder formulas are easier on stretchy synthetic fabrics. Add just a small amount to the water.
  3. Soak and swish. Soak swimwear for around 30 minutes. This gives the detergent time to penetrate the fabric and release dirt, oils, and grime. Gently swish the water every few minutes for light agitation, but don't twist or wring the suits.
  4. Rinse thoroughly. Drain the soapy water and refill the tub with clean, cool water. Rinse each bathing suit until you remove the detergent.
  5. Squeeze out excess. Gently squeeze the suit with your hands to remove excess water, but don’t wring or twist; it damages the stretchy fibers.

How to wash swimsuits in the washing machine

Durable, synthetic swimwear is best washed in the washing machine. Follow these tips for machine-washing swimwear properly:

Use the delicate cycle

Select the delicate or gentle cycle. These cycles prevent stretching and abrasion with slower spin speeds and less aggressive motions.

Choose the right water temperature

Wash with cooler water. Hot or warm water causes bright colors to fade and synthetic fibers, such as nylon and spandex, to break down.

Skip regular detergent

Use a mild liquid detergent made for delicate fabrics or activewear. These detergents effectively clean without damaging synthetic performance fabrics.

Use a mesh bag

Place your swimsuits into a mesh laundry bag before putting them in the washer. The bag keeps swimsuits from rubbing against the machine drum, preventing snags, pulls, or misshaping.

Avoid extras

Don't use fabric softeners, chlorine bleach, or other laundry additives. These products potentially discolor swimsuits or coat the synthetic materials in harsh chemical residues.

How to dry swimwear

Improper drying can also fade, stretch, and degrade your swimsuits. Follow these best practices to keep your swimsuit looking and fitting great:

  • Air drying is the best. Lay your swimsuit flat or hang it up to air dry. A gentle air-dry helps delicate swimwear retain shape, stretch, and vibrancy. Avoid using a clothes dryer; the intense heat damages swimwear fabrics.
  • Find a shaded spot. When air-drying, place your swimsuits in a shaded, well-ventilated area. UV rays cause colors to fade.
  • Use a drying rack. Drying racks or flat mesh surfaces are perfect for air-drying suits in their natural shape. Avoid abrasive terry cloth towels and opt for a smooth surface.
  • Reshape while damp. While suits are still damp, gently reshape cups, leg openings, and other areas that can become twisted during washing. This way your suits will retain their usual fit as they dry.
  • Allow to fully dry. Make sure the suits are completely dry before wearing or storing them. Lingering moisture leads to mustiness, mildew, or permanent discoloration over time.

With a little care, you can keep your swimwear looking vibrant and fitting perfectly for many seasons to come!

Choose high-quality SwimZip swimwear

SwimZip's swimwear line features durable, quick-drying fabrics that provide UPF 50+ sun protection for every family member. From men's swim trunks and women's swimwear to kids' sunsuits, sun hats, rash guards, and accessories, we’ve got you covered.

As one of the most trusted UPF 50+ brands, SwimZip is committed to keeping you and your loved ones safe from harmful UV rays. 

To keep your swimwear looking its best and to maintain the quality, follow the care instructions listed above. With proper care, your swimsuits will remain vibrant, comfortable, and effective season after season.


Girls in SwimZip swimwear pose at the beach—How to wash swimsuits.


Washing swimsuits FAQ

How often should you wash your bathing suit?

Wash your swimsuit after every wear, even if you don't go in the water. Sunscreen, sweat, and oils can break down the swimsuit’s material. Rinse your suit in fresh water with mild soap to remove chlorine, salt, and other chemicals.

Will my favorite swimsuit shrink in the dryer?

If you put your favorite swimsuit in the dryer, it might shrink and lose shape. The heat and rough surfaces of the dryer damage delicate fibers. Always air-dry your swimsuit.

How to make your swimsuit last longer?

To extend the life of your swimsuit, rinse it in clean water after each use, especially after exposure to chlorinated water or salt water. Hand wash with mild soap and cool or lukewarm water, avoid rough surfaces, and air dry. Store swimsuits properly between wears and rotate garments to avoid excessive use.

Does vinegar remove chlorine from swimsuits?

A vinegar and water solution effectively removes chlorine buildup from swimsuits, preventing yellowing and fabric breakdown. Mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1.5 liters of cool water and soak the suit for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.

How do you clean a dirty white swimsuit?

To clean a dingy white swimsuit, soak it in a baking soda solution, which acts as a natural fabric softener. Or use a mild detergent for delicate fabrics. For stubborn stains, gently scrub with a soft toothbrush. You can also soak briefly in diluted bleach to remove yellow chlorine stains, then rinse well.

Further reading

How to get rid of suntan

Heat rash vs sun poisoning

What is a surf rash?

What is a sun rash?

What does SPF 50 mean?

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