With swimming season now well and truly ended, you may find yourself wondering: Is there a right way to wash these swimsuits so they last for many years? We’ve gone over how often to wash them before (every three to five wears), but here’s how you should wash them when the time comes, to avoid stretching, fading, or otherwise shortening their lifespan.
The least damaging washing method
Swimsuits are stretchy and made of materials that aren’t often found in regular clothes, since they do things regular clothes don’t do: They get wet. You can’t just wash them like ordinary materials, then, and you have to be extra careful not to stretch them out too much or launder them in a way that will impact their elasticity.
Rick Rome, CEO and founder of laundry and dry-cleaning service WashClub, tells Lifehacker that the most important part of washing a swimsuit is using cold water, never hot, as warm water “can stretch and elongate the rubber microfibers within the suit.”
Your cold water needs to be supplemented with a mild detergent and a delicate wash cycle. That should be enough to get sand or chlorine out without fading or stretching your material. After each wear, and between washes, you can simply rinse the suit out with cool water tap water to help remove sunscreen, dirt, sweat, and chlorine, according to Stylecaster.
Drying is also key. Rome says you just shouldn’t use your dryer at all, since the high heat could break down the polymer chains that make up the special material. Instead, hang it up or lay it flat to drip dry, but resist the urge to wring it out first so you don’t inadvertently damage its shape.
And what about stains?
Whether you head straight to the water and get your bathing suit full of chlorine or prefer to lounge on the outer edges and get it full of sunscreen, your suit can pretty easily get stained, which will require more effort to clean.
Rome says that if you have sunscreen or other stains in your suit, you should pre-soak it in a colour-safe oxy wash bleach for at least two hours. If the stain needs to be broken down more after that, use a soft-bristled brush to work it out before putting it through the cold-water wash and drip-dry cycle.
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