How to Clean and Care for a Bathing Suit

Your swimsuit can be used daily or only occasionally when you are on vacation. The fabric can be subject to chemicals, heat, high temperatures and sunscreen. Since bathing suits can be expensive–especially for women–it’s well worth your time to learn how to keep them looking great all season.

How Often Should a Bathing Suit Be Clean?

Most swimsuits contain spandex. This fabric can be stretched out or broken down by body oils and sweat. To ensure that a swimsuit stays in its original shape, it is crucial to remove any contaminants as soon as possible. Swimming pool and hot tub chlorine can also cause a swimsuit to lose its elasticity and cause color changes. White swimsuits are especially susceptible to chlorine. The chlorine strips away the white fibers around the inner yellow cores of synthetic fibers, which causes them to turn yellow.

It is simple to wash a bathing suit, but you should do it by hand. You can wash your bathing suit in the washer, but only if you have to.

What you’ll need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sink
  • Drying rack


  • Spandex-specific detergent or mild detergent
  • Use cold water


How to wash a bathing suit

Detergent : Spandex or gentle liquid

Water Temperature : Cold

Type : Only hand-wash

Drying Cycle Type : Do not dry your clothes by machine

Special Treatments : Only hand-wash

Iron Settings : Do not iron

Rinse your bathing suit

After each use, rinse your swimsuit in cold tap water. You can also soak the suit in cool water for up to 30 minutes if you have the time. This is better for the fabric. Soaking will remove most chemicals, salt, and body oils that could damage fabric.

Drain the sink and fill it again

Plain water won’t remove all the chlorine and salt. Add 1 teaspoon of gentle liquid laundry detergent to the sink. You can use a little shampoo to wash your suit if you are in a hurry, but avoid any conditioner-containing products.

Treat Stains

No matter if you spilled ketchup or sunscreen on your swimsuit at a poolside BBQ, there are stain removal steps that can be used to get rid of it. It is difficult to remove self-tanners, so it is a good idea to wear an older suit.

The Suit is Submerged

Flip your swimsuit upside down and immerse it in the solution. Rinse well after a few minutes.

Get rid of excess water

Take the bathing suit out of the water and gently squeeze the water from the fabric. Do not wring the suit, as it could cause damage.

Dry the bathing suit

To dry your suit, lay it flat in direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays can damage or fade the fibers of your suit.

How to choose a bathing suit

Your bathing suit will stretch if you hang it up. Keep the suit flat after it has dried completely. Any moisture could lead to mildew growth. You can store it in a fabric bag if you are putting it away for the season. Avoid plastic bags. They can be a breeding ground of bacteria and mildew.


Broken straps or small holes are not reasons to throw away a costly bathing suit. To fix small rips or snags in fabric, use a needle and polyester yarn. You can easily fix a snag using a needle threaded with the same color thread. Pull the thread through the loop of the knot and tie it to the snag. To pull the needle through the other side, insert the needle in the base of the knot. A professional tailor can help you if you have a larger repair or need to alter your bathing suit. A professional tailor will be more skilled at sewing delicate Lycra or spandex.

Tips on How to Wash a Bathing Suit

  • Instead of removing your bathing suit and soaking in cold water, you can simply wear it into your post-swim bathroom.
  • Do not use powdered detergent for hand washing. It may not dissolve fully or rinse well. To remove stains from suits, don’t use chlorine bleach.
  • As it deodorizes and kills bacteria, distilled white vinegar can be used in an emergency situation as a detergent substitute.
  • Wear an older suit in the hot tub if possible. Hot tubs provide a double dose of chemicals and heat, which can quickly fade or stretch a suit.
  • Choose a suit made of 100 percent polyester that is chlorine and/or heat resistant for frequent hot tub usage. Chlorinated water won’t be able to resist natural or cotton fibers.