How to Keep Chlorine From Damaging Your Swimsuit

chlorine damage swimsuit

It can be a nightmare trying to find the perfect bathing suit – from finding the most stylish colors and patterns, to finding one that is durable, comfortable, and fits you tightly. It doesn’t help that there are so many different types of swimsuits out there. As you’ve probably experienced, finding the perfect swimsuit can be a daunting task.

That’s why it can be so heartbreaking when, after only a month or so of use, you find your swimsuit falling apart. There goes a bunch of time and money down the drain, literally. Unfortunately, the likely culprit is chlorine, which all public and home pools use to neutralize any bacteria.

So now, you have many more questions to consider. Which swimsuit material is most resistant to chlorine? What’s the difference between all of these different swimsuit materials? Does the type of swimsuit you like come in a chlorine-resistant material?

If you want to keep chlorine from damaging your swimsuit, then the fabric it is made with matters a lot. The materials we are most concerned about in this article are spandex (often branded as Lycra) and polyester. Many swimsuits are made with spandex because of how stretchy and comfortable it feels. However, spandex is easily damaged by chlorine, causing it to quickly fade and lose elasticity. Polyester, on the other hand, is very resistant to chlorine. If you will be in the pool a lot, get yourself a polyester swimsuit. The downside is that it is not as stretchy or comfortable, but it will last you a long time. You should also use chlorine removal detergent to get rid of any lingering chlorine or other pool chemicals.

In this article, we will go over how the materials your swimsuit is made of can be damaged by exposure to chlorine. Specifically, we will focus on polyester and spandex/Lycra, because they are two very prominent materials often found in bathing suits, and go over their pros and cons. Let’s jump in.

Swimsuit material

Swimsuits are made with many materials, like the aforementioned Lycra/spandex and polyester, but also nylon, neoprene, or a blend of these materials. Polyester and spandex are the two most commonly used materials in swimsuit construction, and each one has their pros and cons. You will need to strike a balance between durability, comfort, and price point in your considerations.


Polyester has become competitive swimmers’ favorite in recent years owing to the fact that they are so durable and long-lasting.

You can expect a polyester swimsuit to retain its shape and color even after repeated exposure to chlorine and saltwater. Polyester is also UV resistant, helping to protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays.

However, polyester does come with some downsides, namely they are less stretchy than a spandex swimsuit and therefore are less comfortable. They also run a bit smaller in sizing, so for those unaware, they might get an extremely tight first polyester swimsuit. Consider getting one that is one or even two sizes larger than what you’d normally wear.

Additionally, polyester swimsuits also have a higher upfront cost, but their durability means that you can keep wearing the same swimsuit for months whereas other swimsuits would need to be replaced at that point. Therefore, it may cost the same or even less than other swimsuits in the long run as long as you’re taking good care of it.

If you are a competitive swimmer and are worried by chlorine damaging your swimsuit, polyester is undoubtedly the best choice. You can expect anywhere between 20-50 hours of total time in the pool before you even need to consider replacing a polyester bathing suit. For more casual swimmers, spandex could be a good option as well.


Spandex or elastane is often marketed as Lycra, which is another very popular swimsuit material. Spandex is known for being stretchy and comfortable. This is ideal if you do not want to feel restricted while doing your swim strokes.

We mentioned that competitive swimmers prefer to use polyester, but spandex is also used sometimes at the highest level. The downside is that it is not as chlorine-resistant as polyester, so it will need to be replaced more often.

To ensure your spandex swimsuit lasts as long as it can, you must be vigilant about thoroughly rinsing your swimsuit with cold water after use. Otherwise, the chlorine will damage it by discoloring it and making it lose its elasticity.

Some suits are marketed as being chlorine-resistant despite being part of the Lycra brand. Unfortunately, it just means that it is more durable than a conventional swimsuit made out of spandex. Compared to a 100% polyester swimsuit, it is still nowhere near as durable.

Despite their shorter lifespan and less durability, spandex can make up for it somewhat by being cheaper. Thus, it doesn’t matter if it falls apart quicker than polyester if it is more affordable; you can just plan to replace it when the time comes and the overall cost may be around the same as a polyester swimsuit in the long run.

Use swimsuit detergent

It should go without saying that you need to wash your swimsuit after every use. Specifically, you should be washing it with detergents that are specifically formulated to get rid of chlorine from swimsuits without damaging the fabric.

These swimsuit detergents are not the same as laundry detergents. Laundry detergents often contain harsh chemicals that will discolor the swimsuit and cause the spandex fabric within the swimsuit to lose its elasticity. Make sure you are specifically using swimsuit detergent when washing your swimsuit, otherwise you might be doing more harm than good.

Parting words

When selecting the right swimsuit material that is resistant to chlorine damage, there are many factors to consider. Both polyester and spandex swimsuits have their pros and cons, and both have varying levels of chlorine-resistance. However, at the end of the day, even polyester swimsuits will eventually need to be replaced despite being the more durable of the two.

Thus, you need to prioritize what’s most important to you. Are you someone who is competitive and spends many hours in the pool? You probably want a polyester swimsuit. Are you more casual, spend minimal time in the pool, and prefer comfort over performance? Plus, are you okay with replacing a swimsuit more often? Then spandex/Lycra is a better choice.

Lastly, we also mentioned fabric blends. If you want the best of both worlds, consider getting a swimsuit that is a blend of polyester and Lycra. This blend will feel more comfortable than a 100% polyester swimsuit, while being more durable than a lycra swimsuit. Ultimately, this makes up for the downsides that these fabrics have on their own, although its strengths don’t quite match up to the strengths of each individual fabric as well.

No matter which swimsuit material you get, the best way to prevent chlorine from damaging your swimsuit is to gently and thoroughly hand wash your swimsuit with cold water after swimming.