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How to Safely Wash Bathing Suits & Swimwear

December 16, 2023

Swimming requires a special attire—swimsuits. Often made out of nylon or spandex, they tend to hug the body tightly, which helps to retain heat.

And they’re available in a variety of styles. For instance, women often wear one-pieces, bikinis (two-piece), tankinis, and bandeaus. For men, there are swim briefs, board shorts, trunks, and jammers.

What’s the best way to wash a bathing suit? Can you put them in the washer with other clothes? What detergent should you use? Keep reading for all of the answers!

Should I Wash My New Bathing Suit Before Wearing It?

should you wash new bathing suits

As a general rule, you should always wash a swimsuit before wearing it. You have no idea who tried it on or touched it before you brought it home, after all.

For example, it has probably touched the floor multiple times during its transit to the store. In some cases, there might even be some finishing products leftover on the material that can irritate your skin.

How to Hand Wash Swimsuits

Swimwear can be quite delicate. For this reason, you might want to hand wash them instead of putting them into the washing machine. Don’t worry—it’s not as complicated as it sounds.

If it’s a new swimsuit, you’ll want to get rid of the dirt that it might have picked up before and at the store.

This guide can be used to wash all types of swimwear from any brands including:

  • Acacia
  • Aexae
  • Andie
  • Blackbough
  • Capittana
  • Chromat
  • Eberjey
  • Fella
  • Frankie’s Bikini’s
  • L*Space
  • Marysia
  • Monday
  • Oseree
  • Peony
  • Reina Olga
  • Skatie
  • Solid & Striped
  • Summersalt
  • Swimsuits for All
  • Vitamin A
  • YouSwim

If you’ve already worn it – say into a hot tub, your goal will be to remove chlorine, body oils, and sweat from the material. Given that you’ve swam in salt water, you’ll want to get rid of the salt that has gotten into the fabric.

Note: It’s important to wash your swimsuit after every single use. Not only will that keep it in tip-top shape but it’ll extend its lifespan as well. Even if you don’t have time to wash it after coming back from the pool or beach, you should give it a rinse under clean water.

how to hand wash bathing suits

Pour one to two tablespoons of ACTIVE Detergent into a tub or small container (they key is to use a gentle detergent).

Gently swirl the cool water with your hand to mix and dissolve the cleaner. Place your one-piece into the tub and allow it to “marinate” in the solution for up to an hour.

From there, lightly scrub the swimsuit with both hands. Once you’re done, remove the dirty water and rinse the garment with clean, running water. That will remove any chlorine, sweat, dirt, salt, or sunscreen that is embedded in the material.

Continue until the water is clear with no obvious dirt. Generally speaking, this should take you around a minute or two.

Afterward, gently squeeze out the excess water from the one-piece. Avoid wringing it like a dishcloth as that can stretch and damage the material. The temptation might be strong, but try your best to resist it! Allow it to air dry and do not leave it out in direct sunlight.

Machine Washing Bathing Suits

Let’s face it, it’s not always possible to hand-wash your swimsuit. Sometimes, you’ll just have to rely on the good ol’ washing machine. Don’t worry—as long as you follow our instructions, it’ll be just as effective as hand washing (if not better).

washing instructions for swimwear

First things first, you should only wash your swimsuit on a delicate cycle with cold water—any other setting can damage the fabric. To get started, place your swimsuit in a mesh laundry bag (if you don’t have one, a clean pillowcase will do). That will prevent it from getting damaged in the cycle.

Pro-tip: Never use hot water if you’re washing it in the machine. This will damage the elastic lining. Warm water is okay, but not recommended.

While it’s okay to wash your swimwear with other delicate garments (as long as they’re similar colors), you want to make sure that you don’t wash it with something that can pick at the fabric (items with velcro or zippers).

Once the wash cycle is complete, hang the swimsuit and allow it to air dry. You can also lay the swimsuit flat to dry.

Never put it in the dryer—this will not only ruin the elastic but will make the entire thing lose its shape.

Pro-tip: If you decide to drip dry the swimsuit, you might want to place a towel or something similar on the floor as it will drip a lot of water. Of course, you can skip this step altogether if you dry it over your bathtub.

Best Laundry Detergent for Swimwear

best detergent for bathing suits

Now you’re probably wondering—”What kind of detergent should I use for my swimsuit?” There are many options for detergent, but only some of them are safe for swimwear.

ACTIVE Detergent, in particular, is great for swimwear. After all, it’s specially formulated for active wear! With just a little bit, you’ll be able to remove most if not all of the “ick” that might be on the fabric.

For more information on how the ACTIVE Detergent works, click here.

If you prefer, you can also make your own cleaner. It’s easy—all you have to do is add a teaspoon of mild hand soap to a gallon of water.

Alternatively, you can add half a cup of baking soda to a sink of cold water. Both of these recipes are delicate enough for most if not all swimwear. However, the former is especially effective at getting rid of that funky beach or pool smell.

How to Remove Stains on Bathing Suits

how to remove swimsuit stains

No matter how careful we are with our swimsuits, stains can happen. For one thing, both sunscreen and chlorine are capable of discoloring fabric. Of course, there’s also food and beverages, both of which tend to find its way onto our suits one way or another.

If you have a stain on your swimsuit, your best bet is to dab a bit of ACTIVE Detergent onto the stain using a damp washcloth. Remember to be gentle as you do not want to stretch out the fabric. Once you’re done, rinse it under running water and allow it to drip or air dry.

In some cases, you might have to draw a bath for your swimsuit. Add a scoop of ACTIVE Detergent to the tub and mix the solution by swirling your hand around the water. By presoaking it, it might be easier for you to wash the stain off.

How to Wash Swimming Suit – FAQs

How can I keep my bathing suit in good condition?

Wash your bathing suits after each wear and avoid sitting on rough surfaces while you’re wearing it as that can damage the delicate material.

Are hot tubs bad for bathing suits?

best way to wash a bikini

The heat and jets in a hot tub can damage a bathing suit (including swim trunks) over time. For that reason, it’s best to limit your hot tub time or have a designated bathing suit for the hot tub.

How do I get rid of sunscreen stains that are on my bathing suit?

Soak your bathing suit in cold, soapy water as soon as you take it off. Using a mild detergent, like the one by ACTIVE, and gently massage the fabric with your fingers – that should help loosen the chemicals.

Lay the suit flat to dry afterward.

What’s the best way to properly wash a bathing suit?

Hand washing is the best choice when it comes to washing your bathing suit. All you need is some ACTIVE detergent and water. Let it soak in the mixture for sveral minutes to get rid of any pool chemicals, sweat, and body oils.

Air drying is best afterward.

Can I put my swimsuit into the washing machine without a mesh bag?

No, you should never put your bathing suit directly into the washing machine without using a laundry bag. The agitation during the wash cycle will damage the wet swimsuit.

If you don’t have a mesh bag, place it in a clean pillowcase and run a gentle cycle.

Should I wash my bathing suit with hot or cold water?

You should always wash your bathing suit with cold water. Heat can cause the nylon materials to deteriorate over time.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

Comment (1)

  • Megan David Reply

    Such an informative blog,

    Always rinse your swimwear immediately after wear. We usually just wash it the same time we take a shower – because it’s still considered a rinse and we are lazy like that!

    September 24, 2020 at 2:24 am

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