Swimsuits take a beating from chlorine, saltwater, sweat, and sunscreen exposure. With proper care between wears, you can keep your swimwear looking vibrant and lasting longer. Read on for specialized techniques to wash bathing suits both at home and at the laundromat.

Why it’s Important to Care for Swimsuits

Let’s first review the reasons proper swimsuit care matters:

Prevent Fading

Chlorine and saltwater can degrade swimsuit colors and prints over time. Proper washing helps dyes last.

Avoid Damage from Chemicals

Pool and spa chemicals like chlorine are abrasive. Washing out residues after each use preserves fabrics.

Reduce Stretching and Bagging

The weight of water stretched spandex and strappy parts. Hand washing provides control against over-stretching.

Unravel Pilling

Swimsuits rub against rough pool decks and towel fibers, leading to pilling. Washing removes lint, pills, and snags.

Eliminate Odors

Thorough cleaning eliminates lingering odors from body oils, mildew, and chemicals that cling to damp suits.

Increase Longevity

Regular washing extends the life span of swimwear by removing damaging contaminants after each use.

Frequent, gentle cleansing keeps swimsuits looking like new.

Hand Washing Swimsuits at Home

For delicates like bikinis, specialty fabrics, and prints, hand wash at home using these steps:


  • 2 Sinks or tubs for wash and rinse
  • Mild liquid detergent or swimsuit shampoo
  • Terry cloth towel
  • Mesh garment wash bag
  • Swimsuit drying rack or towel


  1. Fill sinks – one with cool water and detergent, one just cool water for rinsing
  2. Place suit in mesh bag and submerge in wash water
  3. Gently swirl and soak for 15 minutes maximum
  4. Lift from wash water without wringing, drain bag
  5. Submerge in rinse water and agitate gently
  6. Drain bag and press out moisture with towel
  7. Lay flat on towel or drying rack in the shade
  8. Air dry fully before wearing or storing

Hand washing allows complete control for swimsuit delicates.

Machine Washing Swimsuits

Heartier swimsuits with simple spandex blends and solid colors can be machine washed following these recommendations:


  • Mesh garment bag
  • Non-chlorine bleach (optional)
  • Odor fighting detergent


  1. Place dry swimsuit in mesh bag and zip closed
  2. Select cold water, delicate cycle
  3. Use detergent safe for spandex
  4. Add 1⁄2 cup non-chlorine bleach for white suits
  5. Choose additional rinse cycle
  6. Line dry or dry on low heat

With the right settings, washing machines can handle simple spandex suits.

Drying Swimsuits

Whichever washing method you use, always dry swimwear carefully:

Line Dry

Hang bikini tops by the center hardware and bottoms at the side ties or middle gusset to prevent over-stretching of soaked fabrics.

Lay Flat

For prints or suits prone to snagging, lay flat face down on a towel in the shade. Flip over halfway through drying.

Low Heat

If machine drying spandex suits, use the lowest heat setting. Remove promptly before over-drying.

No Direct Sun

Avoid direct sun exposure which can fade colors. Dry shade provides gentle airflow.


For underwires, lightly reshape bra cups back into form while still damp.

Gentle drying preserves spandex and prevents heat damage.

How Often to Wash Swimsuits

  • After every use in pools, lakes, oceans
  • After 1-2 uses in personal spas
  • Partial submersion requires washing
  • Fully hand rinse without detergent after quick dips
  • 1-2 full washes per week for avid swimmers

Wash after every full wear to eliminate chemicals and microbes.

Maximizing Washing Effectiveness

Follow these expert tips for peak swimsuit cleaning:

  • Rinse thoroughly immediately after wearing to prevent odors, stains, and fabric damage from lingering chlorine and saltwater.
  • Check inner lining – remove any disposable internal hygiene liners or pads after each use.
  • Scrub crevices – use a soft bristle brush on mesh, netting, and textured areas where residues collect.
  • Avoid bleach – even non-chlorine can degrade elasticity over time. Use Oxyclean for white suits instead.
  • Disinfect – add a bit of chlorine bleach or sanitizing detergent to wash cycles to kill microbes.
  • Use bio-based detergent – plant derived options minimize environmental impact of frequent washing.

Special care keeps swimwear looking vibrant season after season.

Storing Swimsuits

After washing and drying, store swimsuits properly:

  • Check thoroughly dry – any lingering moisture breeds mildew
  • Fold loosely – avoid sharp creases of underwires on bra cups
  • Use mesh bags – protects delicate fabrics and separates multiple suits
  • Keep in cool, dark place – heat and light fading are accelerated from chlorine residue
  • Avoid plastic containers – inhibits airflow; natural fibers allow breathing
  • Keep lotions and sprays away – chemicals in cosmetics degrade spandex and dye

Proper storage between wears extends swimsuit lifespan.

Common Swimsuit Care FAQs

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about bathing suit laundry:

How do you get chlorine smell out of swimsuits?

Rinse immediately after wearing, hand wash with a chelating detergent like Tide Plus to remove mineral deposits, and dry thoroughly.

Can you put a bathing suit in the washing machine?

Yes, but only simple spandex suits on delicate cycle in a mesh bag. Intricate bikinis, hardware, padding and prints should be hand washed.

Should you wash a swimsuit before wearing it?

Yes, wash new suits before first wearing to maximize longevity. It removes sizing, residues and excess dye from manufacturing.

How do you wash white swimsuits?

Use non-chlorine bleach like OxiClean White Revive mixed with cool water for a short soak before washing. Helps remove yellowing.

Can you wash swimsuits with regular laundry?

No, the oils, chemicals, and microbes that build up on swimwear can transfer to other garments in a communal wash.

How do you dry a bathing suit fast?

Lay flat or hang dry in direct sunlight if possible. The UV rays help eliminate bacteria while the heat speeds drying.

Take a dip in our pro tips for swimsuit success. Stop subjected your beloved swimwear to damaging chemicals, microbes, and moisture. With some specialized TLC between beach and pool sessions, you can help your bikinis and swim trunks look vibrant, last longer, and avoid stinky odors. Show your swimsuit some love and it will take you many glorious seasons in the sun!

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