You might have heard that some people don’t wash their jeans. The prevailing wisdom is that washing jeans will wear them out faster, and you’ll have to buy a new pair within the year. Does this same train of thought apply to swimsuits? Heck no!
Unless you’re okay with your bathing suit growing moldy and stinking like nobody’s business, you will want to wash your swimsuits as soon as possible. Additionally, a damp swimsuit is a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to mold growth. Chlorinated water can also wear down your swimsuit, making it lose its elasticity and color much faster. Failure to wash your swimsuit quickly and properly will cause your swimsuit to get real gross, real quick, so wash it ASAP!
Since high-quality bathing suits can cost a pretty penny, you will want to learn how to care for them so that you can look great not just this summer, but the next few summers as well. Whether you are wearing your swimsuit daily or only on occasion, it will take a beating from chemicals like chlorine, the sun’s UV rays, hot temperatures, and wear and tear from normal use.
In this article, we will explain why it’s a good idea to wash your swimsuit after every use, what will happen if you don’t, and how to properly wash your swimsuit to ensure that it will last multiple summers so that you don’t have to buy a new swimsuit every year.
Why you should wash your swimsuit right away
“What’s the big deal with not washing my swimsuit right away?” you might think. Well, you’d be surprised. Even just leaving a damp swimsuit in a bag overnight can have some unwanted consequences. Here are the top reasons why you should wash your swimsuit right away.
It prevents mold growth
Damp environments are a breeding ground for bacteria, allowing them to multiply and thrive. This can lead to fungal growth such as mold growth. If you open up your swim bag to find that your swimsuit has black dots growing on it, that’s not a polka dot design that you forgot about; that is mold.
You might have noticed black dots around your window frame or along your bathroom tiles or other locations that are frequently exposed to water. These are all examples of mold, and the same thing can happen on a bathing suit that is not washed and dried immediately.
How to clean a moldy bathing suit:
If your swimsuit is moldy, you may be able to salvage it if you’re desperate enough. Most people would probably just throw it away and get a new pair.
That said, if you’re willing to risk it, you can try to scrub the fungal growth off using a soft bristled brush. Then, pour vinegar on any remaining moldy spots that couldn’t be scrubbed off. Let it sit for 30 minutes before moving on.
Next, fill a basin or sink with cold water and add a tablespoon of white vinegar into the water, along with a few squeezes of hand soap or dish detergent. Mix it evenly.
Soak your moldy swimsuit in this cleaning solution for at least 30 minutes. After soaking, thoroughly scrub the bathing suit until there are no more black dots.
Now drain the basin/sink and rinse the bathing suit one last time. If you’re lucky, you will have scrubbed off all the mold and your bathing suit can continue to be used (just try not to remember the moldy mess it was the next time you wear it). If there are any lingering black dots, we recommend you throw it out and buy a new bathing suit.
See how much of a hassle it is dealing with a moldy bathing suit? Not to mention it’s gross, and you probably wouldn’t want to go through that hassle in the first place. All the more reason to wash and dry your swimsuit right away.
It keeps your swimsuit from smelling
Let me ask you, do you like the chlorine smell that all swimming pools have? That was a rhetorical question, of course you don’t.
Now, what if that smell has penetrated deep into your bathing suit? Not to mention the smell of other things like perspiration, saltwater, your own body odor, and the like. That’s what you are allowing to happen if you are slow to wash your bathing suit.
Unless you immediately and thoroughly rinse your bathing suit after every use, some of that smell may start to linger on your swimsuit, and you might not be able to completely wash it off.
If this does happen, your best bet is to follow the same steps as described above with regards to using vinegar to clean your bathing suit. Vinegar is a versatile ingredient that too few people realize is amazing for getting rid of tough odors. Though vinegar has quite a pungent odor, ironically it leaves no odor after rinsing your swimsuit with it.
It keeps your swimsuit lasting longer
The sun’s UV rays, the salt in saltwater or the chlorinated water in pools, and the chemicals found in sunscreen; these are all things that can damage as well as stain your swimsuit. If you want your white swimsuit to stay white instead of slowly turning yellow, be vigilant about washing it.
You may find that your swimsuit quickly loses its elasticity and you have to replace it every few months. That’s usually a sign of chlorine damage causing the spandex/Lycra in your swimsuit to lose its shape.
By washing immediately after use, you are reducing the amount of time your swimsuit is in contact with these damaging agents, thereby increasing your swimsuit’s lifespan.
Swimsuit washing and drying tips
Avoid laundry detergent
Many guides tell you to use laundry detergent to clean your bathing suit. This advice is a bit controversial because some detergents are too harsh for spandex swimwear. We mentioned that chemicals like chlorine can wear down a bathing suit, and the same can be said of some chemicals found in detergents.
Whatever you do, do NOT use bleach on your bathing suit as that is definitely too harsh of a chemical. If you use the wrong detergent, it can lead to color fading and stretching of the spandex in your bathing suit.
If you picked up on our wording, there is such a thing as the “right” detergent. There are detergents designed specifically for swimsuits that you should be using. Hand soap is another great option if you don’t have swimsuit detergent on hand. You can also use vinegar as a cleaning ingredient, which we’ve already mentioned is very effective at getting rid of odors.
Don’t wring your bathing suit
After washing your bathing suit, you may be tempted to squeeze the water out by wringing it. You should squeeze the water out to facilitate faster drying, but wringing is not the right way to do so.
Instead, get two dry towels. Place one towel flat on the floor. Now lay your damp swimsuit on the first towel. Now lay the second towel over the bathing suit and first towel.
Now comes the fun part. Step on your bathing suit over the towels. Use your body weight to squeeze out all of the water in this manner. This applies enough force to squeeze a significant portion of the water out without resorting to wringing the bathing suit, which can stretch out the spandex.
Keep your swimsuit away from heat
Always use cold water when washing your bathing suit. Swimsuit fabrics are very sensitive to heat, and even hot water can cause it to shrink and lose its shape. If you are content with how your swimsuit currently fits you, continue washing it with cold water. If you feel like your swimsuit is a little too big for you, you can try exposing it to heat to shrink it down to size.
Always hand wash your swimsuit
After an exhausting (but hopefully fun-filled) day at the beach, the last thing you want to do is hand wash your swimsuit. But if your plan was to simply throw it in the washing machine and then the drying machine, you’re making a mistake.
First, both the washing machine and dryer would expose your swimsuit to heat, which is a big no-no as we have already explained. I found that even on a cold wash cycle, my washing machine would occasionally add some warm water, which was alarming.
Second, the spinning and tumbling action of these machines are very strenuous and will add wear and tear to your swimsuit, even on a gentle cycle. Do not be surprised if your swimsuit quickly loses its elasticity if you are frequently using these machines.
How you should dry it
So if a dryer is out of the question, are you supposed to hang it on a clothesline? That is one option, but not the best one. When hanging clothes to dry, the water can pool at the bottom of the swimsuit, putting a lot of pressure on the shoulder straps or wherever it is supporting the weight of the swimsuit.
Also, many people make the mistake of leaving their clothes (or swimwear in this case) out in direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays are extremely damaging and will also cause your swimsuit to lose its color and shape (it’s starting to seem like everything can do that).
Instead, dry it in a shaded, ventilated area. If you must hang it on a rack, get a hanger that is much thicker instead of those wire hangers. If a greater amount of surface area is holding up your swimsuit, it will be less likely to stretch.
A better option would be to lay it flat on a drying rack. This way, it will not stretch out and airflow can reach beneath the swimsuit.
To speed up the process, blow a fan directly at it. You can also try to use a hair dryer on the cool air setting if it’s not too warm.
Otherwise, just let it air dry. Depending on where you are, this may take awhile. For instance, if you’re vacationing in a tropical environment, those locations are notorious for how humid they are. You can potentially be waiting over 48 hours for a swimsuit to fully dry, which is why you should always bring more than one swimsuit.
Let it rest
Most women’s swimsuits are made with spandex fabric. This fabric is very stretchy, making it comfortable to wear. Unfortunately, it is also susceptible to chlorine damage and heat, as we have repeatedly mentioned throughout this article.
Furthermore, spandex is a memory fabric; that means it will stretch back to its original shape if it is stretched out. Despite this property, there is a limit to it. If you are repeatedly wearing the same bathing suit day after day, and constantly exposing it to chlorine, it will quickly stretch out of shape.
Plus, it’s unlikely you will be able to dry the same swimsuit fully within a day, so that’s all the more reason for you to own more than one swimsuit.
While it’s a pain in the butt putting in all this effort to wash your swimsuit, I would argue it’s an even bigger pain in the butt if you have to go swimsuit shopping every few months. It also quickly gets expensive. Why not just take great care of one swimsuit and have it last for over a year, if not longer?
Plus, just from a health and hygiene perspective, not washing your swimsuit after every use is kind of gross. Imagine if you didn’t wash your workout clothes after an intense workout and then wore it again the next day. I don’t think that’s something you would do, so the same logic applies to your swimsuit. Wash it after every use!