The Closet

Swimwear 101: How to Care for Your Swimsuits

Finding the right swimwear can be tricky—it needs to be functional and fit in a way that makes you look and feel good. So when you've found a piece you love, it's important to invest in proper care techniques to make sure your seaside ensemble is beach-ready for this season and the next. Here are our tips to clean and preserve your swimsuit so you can focus on nailing that tan.

Cuts, fabrics and embellishments

When it comes to choosing the right cut, you don't have to show off more than what you're comfortable with. The most important factor is finding a swimsuit that covers you in all the right places, which applies to both women's and men's swimwear. Whether you pick a simple one piece or a more elaborate option, any special details (like scalloped edges and tie backs) as well as fabrics will be affected by how you clean and care for your suit.

Choice fabrics include nylon, spandex and lycra, which are all durable and easy to care for post-swim. However, it's important to note that nylon can fade with strong sunlight, while spandex is only comfortable when combined with other materials. Polyester is another less common fabric used in swimwear; it's not as comfortable and elastic as nylon, but it's more chlorine and fade resistant so it will often have a longer lifespan.

Regardless of fabric choice, avoid throwing your swimsuit into the washing machine; even the gentle cycle can damage the fabric, and laundry detergent can fade the color of some swimsuits. Instead, read the label first to decide if it needs to be professionally dry cleaned or hand washed. Take care when hand washing, especially if your swimsuit is embellished with ruffles or rhinestones. A gentle rinse in a basin of cool water should do the trick.

Treating stains

Whether you're going for a dip in the pool or enjoying a game of beach volleyball, you might end up with a few unexpected blemishes on your swimwear.

If you've managed to get sunscreen on your suit, some good old dish soap will take care of most stains before they settle into the fabric. Grab a clean, dry towel and apply pressure to the stain to soak up as much of it as possible. Spilled a drink or let some food dribble onto your suit? Sprinkle some baking soda on the stained area and let it sit for an hour before you wash your swimwear in cool water. A great swimsuit hack is to take it into the shower with you to get rid of chlorine, sand or any other issues, fuss-free. Left untreated, chlorine can dull the color and weaken the elastic of your swimsuit. So be speedy in cleaning your suit after you've left the pool.

Preserving swimwear

Besides choosing the right fabrics and washing your swimwear with care, here are some tips to make your favorite swimsuit last.

  • Hand wash with a gentle baby soap immediately—fragrance-free is ideal.
  • As tempting as it is to wring your swimsuit, opt to flat dry it instead to maintain the suit's shape.
  • Spandex, in particular, can get stretched out with frequent wear so consider alternating various styles to give your swimsuit a break between beach days and pool parties.

By switching up your suits, you'll ensure that each piece can return to its original form and hold its shape better over a longer period of time. When storing your swimsuit, place it in a fabric garment bag to avoid letting any moisture in, and keep the bag in a dry area. Otherwise, you'll be faced with the unpleasant sight and odor of mildew—and no one wants to deal with that hassle.

Taking care of your swimsuit doesn't have to be complicated. With a few simple measures, your favorite piece will stay in tiptop condition for your next dip in the lake or mornings laps in the pool.


Photos: Sergey Moskvitin /, David Straight, Artme Verbo, Ed Gregory