The Best Way to Care for and Clean a Bathing Suit So You Don’t Prematurely Ruin It

The most delicate item in your wardrobe is also subject to the most muck (sweat, sand, surf, and SPF, to name a few). Here’s how to wash it out as gently as possible.

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Step 1. Wear and rinse

A day in the sun can leave all sorts of residue on your swimsuit (think body oil, sunscreen, dirt, and chlorine). Wash it away by gently rinsing the suit after each use. For efficiency’s sake, simply wear the suit into a locker room shower before heading home from the beach or pool. If that’s not an option, fill a sink with cool tap water and rinse your suit that way.


Step 2. Never wring out a swimsuit

Wringing and twisting a swimsuit puts undo stress onto its delicate fibers and elastic. Instead, gently press down on the suit and lay it flat to dry. (If you need to speed things up, lay the suit onto a beach towel and roll the towel from the top down, folding the suit with it. Press down on the towel to squeeze out excess water). For even faster results, blast the wet suit with a hair dryer set to cool.


Step 3. Hand wash with gentle detergent

Unless you find your suit particularly smelly or soiled, it’s best to wash it with detergent after every three or four wears (as opposed to after every single wear). Turn the suit inside out and add a pump of mild liquid hand soap to a sink of cool water. Allow the suit to soak for a few minutes, then press out excess moisture and rinse with clean water. Lay flat to dry.


Step 4. Machine wash cold

If a time-consuming hand wash isn’t realistic, machine-wash your suit on cold with a gentle detergent (and no bleach, even for a white ensemble). Use a mesh lingerie bag to keep your suit’s strings and embellishments from getting stuck to other clothes. Lay flat to dry.


Step 5. Avoid the hot tub

A hot tub’s high temperatures and harsh chemicals will ensure your suit stretches out quickly. Wear an older suit if you plan on taking a dip, or try a 100 percent polyester or chlorine-resistant suit, which will hold up better than one made of an all-natural fabric.


Step 6. Keep a bathing suit rotation

If you plan to wear a swimsuit each day of your beach vacation, go ahead and pack two. That way, you can allow one to rest (elastic needs to take a break too!) while you wear the other. You’ll also have extra time to rinse each suit properly and wait for them to dry.

MORE: 11 Common Swimsuit Mistakes You’re Making and How to Fix Them

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest