The Best Way to Care For and Clean Your Bathing Suits

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The most delicate item in your wardrobe also tends to collect the most residue. Here’s how to care for your bathing suits and keep them looking crisp and clean.

With warm weather season upon us, it’s time to hit the pool or the beach and and enjoy the summer days! Some of the most important things you’ll need: swimsuits, towels, face sunscreen, and of course a bathing suit cover-up to throw on top once your day is over. If you’re using these items on the daily, they’re bound to suffer some wear and tear. Bathing suits in particular need TLC, so you’ll want to know the best ways to maintain your bathing suit to keep it looking in tip-top shape and clean!

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Importance of bathing suit care

All sorts of residue gets left on your swimsuits from a day one. Oils, sunscreen, chlorine, salt, sand can all stay on your swimsuit unless you wash it away. If not handled properly, your bathing suit can look dull, fabric can change and it won’t remain as crisp and clean. By treating your swimwear properly, you’ll save money in the long run by not having to replace it.

When to wash a bathing suit

The American Cleaning Institute recommends washing your bathing suit after every single wear. Even without the added factors of sunscreen, water, and exercise—your body is continuously producing products that soil fabric. According to Jessica Zinna, Phd, Tide senior scientist, the average person can produce 1 liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease, and 2 billion skin cells in a 24-hour cycle. This calls for proper cleaning of your bathing suit.

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Pretreating a bathing suit

One way to keeping your bathing suit looking brand new is to pretreat it before wearing; some bathing suit manufacturers explicitly recommend taking this added step. “Pretreating is a way to address tough stains or heavily soiled garments by soaking them with a laundry detergent and scrubbing the stain,” Zinna said. One can pretreat their suit by soaking it in a detergent specialized in tough stain removal such as the Clorox 2 Liquid Stain Remover & Color Booster Free & Clear.

Pretreating can prevent future discoloring effects as well. And you can use household ingredients just as easily. “A simple soak in two tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with one quart of cold water for 20 to 30 minutes will help keep the colors looking vibrant much longer,” said Kristin Lukas, a blogger and personal stylist.

How to wash a bathing suit

While you may love throwing your laundry into a washer and dryer, give those machines a break when it comes to caring for swimwear. Most experts recommend handwashing and air drying whenever possible to preserve and best care for your bathing suit. According to Zinna, these are the best steps to keep your suit in pristine condition:

  1. Check care labels first for any specific wash instructions and guidance
  2. Wash your swimsuit in cold water to preserve the fabric with your choice of detergent. Some detergents work best in cold water such as the Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty, which has specific enzymes and surfactants for the colder temperature.
  3. Air dry your suit flat to prevent stretching and maintain the shape for at least 24 hours

Struggling to get fabric clean or odor free? Warm water could be a great substitute for step two. “Most warm water cycles are usually around 100°F and in the textiles industry, “warm” water is accepted as high as 105°F,” Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s in-house scientist and cleaning expert, said. “The warmer temperature cleans the fabric better and helps control odor.”

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General Tips

These are Zinna’s and Gagliardi’s best tips for preserving your favorite swimwear:

  • Rinse your bathing suit immediately after wearing to get rid of a majority of salt, chlorine, and other elements
  • Avoid bleach, which can give white bathing suits an irreversible yellow discoloration instead of making them brighter
  • Avoid dryers, as the heat can damage the fabric’s elasticity
  • Don’t wring or twist your suit to get rid of excess water because it can damages fibers in the fabric
  • Store swimsuits out of direct light, as UV light causes colors to fade
  • Rotate bathing suits to spread the wear and tear


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