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How to Wash and Care for your Swimsuit

Posted on July 28 2020

To see our simple guide to caring for your swimsuit, click here.

So you’ve invested in a brand new swimsuit and you want to keep it looking as new as possible for as long as possible. Don’t stress! It takes very little time and effort to keep your swimsuit looking its best. In this post we’ll answer your top questions on how to care for your new swimsuit, but before we dive into specifics, here are our 6 basic steps for washing your swimsuit.

Step 1 - Fill a sink or basin with cool water and add a capful of swimwear cleaner. Agitate the water to create some soapy suds.

How to wash a swimsuit - Step One

Step 2 - Place your swimsuit in the water and swoosh it around gently to allow the suds to penetrate the fabric.

How to wash a swimsuit - Step Two

Step 3 - Leave it to soak for 10 to 30 minutes

Step 4 - Drain the sink and rinse your swimsuit with cool fresh water until there are no traces of cleaner remaining.

Step 5 - Carefully press the excess water out of the swimsuit (DO NOT twist or wring the fabric!). If needed you can fold the suit into a clean dry towel and gently press to remove more of the water.

Step 6 - Lay the swimsuit flat to dry in a well ventilated area that is not exposed to direct sunlight. And that’s it! You’re done! When your swimsuit is completely dry (yes, completely!) it is ready to be worn again.

How to wash a swimsuit - Last Steps


Now that that's out of the way, you may have noticed there's a lot more text below. So for those of you skimmers out there:


Swimsuits are very, very delicate garments, exposed to very, very harsh environments. Treat them delicately!


If you have been washing your swimwear correctly and still have some unanswered questions? We’ve compiled a list below with some of the most frequent swim care questions and concerns our customers have shared with us. Read on!

Can I put my bathing suit in the washing machine and/or dryer?
The simplest answer is No! Just No! We don’t recommend it especially when it comes to washing the exquisitely delicate fabrics of a well made, high end, fashion bikini or one piece. The heavy agitation of a washing machine will stretch out the fabric and delicate fibers causing it to strain and breakdown, ruining the shape and fit. The same rules apply to putting your suit in the dryer. The agitation and high heat can compromise the elasticity of your suit and can also cause colours to fade. Trust us, as folks who have worn and washed many a bikini, we strongly recommend sticking to the hand washing to extend the life and vitality of your swimwear!


Do I have to buy swimwear cleaner or can I use any clothing detergent?
We don’t recommend using regular commercial laundry detergent as they are generally too harsh for the delicate swimwear fabrics. Choose a gentle detergent - we recommend Aquamate Swimsuit Cleaner and Splash Swimwear Wash by Forever New. These cleansers are specially formulated to neutralize the harsh effects of chlorine and are great for removing salt, sunscreen and tanning products. In a pinch, a mild detergent such as lingerie wash is a great substitute if you don’t have swimwear cleaner on hand. If it’s safe for your delicate bras, hosiery, and lingerie, chances are it’s perfectly safe for your swimwear. But keep in mind that if you are a frequent user of chlorinated pools or salt water, it is wise to invest in a proper cleaner to neutralize the effects of chemicals and salt on your delicate swim fabrics.

Aquamate 4oz Swimsuit Cleaner Forever New Splash Swimwear Wash

How often do I need to wash my swimsuit?
Swimwear, while super delicate, is still clothing. It needs to be cleaned with each wear. Salt water, chlorine, sunscreen, tanning oil, lotions, deodorants, and even the oils and sweat from our own skin are all examples of substances your swimsuit can come into contact with. These can cause discolouration and damage to the fabrics of your stunning bikini or one piece swimsuit. Wash it after every wear even if you didn’t immerse in water. The opposite is also true - if you only wear it for a quick dip in the ocean or swimming pool, you will still need to clean it to prevent salt staining or remove the damaging effects of chlorine. Now, we hear the collective sighing and lamentations of, “but I only wore it for an hour lying in the sun” or “I just took a quick dip and then I laid out in the sun until it dried, I shouldn’t need to wash it again?!”... Well, we feel it may be a perfect time for:
Sandpipers Storytime!
We once had a customer who came into the shop with a light blue one piece swimsuit that she had worn consistently throughout the Summer and couldn’t understand why it had white-ish splotches all over it. It almost looked like it had been bleached. Our first instinct was that it had either been worn in a jacuzzi or that it had mistakenly been tossed in the washing machine with her whites and some sort of stain remover product. But she told us she had done none of these things and had soaked it in the sink with a cap full of swim cleaner after long days at the beach. On closer inspection we realized that the splotches were in fact a build up of residue most likely from frequent applications of sunscreen, deodorant, and salt water. These things, if not properly cleaned after every wear, can build up and into the delicate fibers of your swimsuit...
The Solution!:
When soaking your swimsuit, don’t be afraid to get in there, agitate the water, and use the soapy suds to gently (very gently!) rub the parts of the suit that need a bit of a deeper cleaning. If you really need to you can use a drop of swim cleaner full strength to spot clean if you have mild staining from salt, sunscreen, or tanning oil.
Pro Tip! : If you use self tanner, always, ALWAYS, let it dry completely before putting on your bathing suit! In fact it may be wise to wait a full 24 hours before wearing it, BUT, if you do get self tanner on your new bikini, grab your swim cleaner and add a little at a time full strength onto the stained area with a bit of water and gently rub into the stain. Rinse and reapply again as needed until the stain fades or (hopefully!) disappears, then follow our 6 steps above for soaking your suit to make sure the stain doesn’t spread. We’ve had lots of luck with this trick on fresh stains but if they’ve had time to settle it gets a bit more difficult to
remove them.

Can I wear my swimsuit in a hot tub or jacuzzi?
Don’t wear your good swimsuits in a hot tub or jacuzzi! We can not stress this enough! While you may love a good soak in a hot tub, your beautiful new swimsuit does not! These delicate beauties are not equipped to handle the high heat (and sometimes nasty chemicals!) of these environments and will lose their shape and colour, sometimes even after just one soak. We recommend wearing a polyester swimsuit (we love TYR suits!) or an older one piece or bikini that you’ve fallen out of love with or don’t mind designating for use in these harsher conditions.

Why is the colour bleeding from my new swimsuit?
Brightly coloured bathing suits can sometimes bleed coloured dye the first time you get them wet. It’s a good idea to wash a brightly coloured bikini or one piece before you wear it for the first time to make sure you don’t transfer any dye to your favourite beach towel or cover up. Some of our customers have reported success with soaking their new brightly or fluorescent coloured bikinis in the sink with a few teaspoons of vinegar to keep the colour from bleeding and fading. Fluorescent colours have been widely known to fade over time due to consistent exposure to the sun. Make sure you wash your suits separately or with like colours to prevent dye from transferring from one swimsuit to another.

Why does my white swimwear turn yellow?
Be careful with light colours, especially white! Light coloured swimwear can turn yellow over time. We could write a novel full of stories about white bikinis that have turned yellow! Sometimes over a long amount of time and wear and sadly sometimes after the very first wear. The conditions you expose your light coloured swim pieces to can sometimes be unpredictable so to explain more thoroughly, here’s another edition of:
Sandpipers Storytime!
We once had one of our regular customers wear her newly purchased white bikini in a hotel swimming pool in Las Vegas and after swimming around for 30 minutes or so, emerged from the water to find that her pristine white bikini was now a faint shade of yellow! The truth is when you don’t have control over the environment that you’re swimming in, it’s hard to predict how those environments will affect your swimsuits. Most especially, hotel and resort pools that are often overly chlorinated due to the volume of people contaminating it and/or filled with chemicals meant to disinfect for public health reasons.
The Solution:
…. This one is a little more complicated. We’ve heard so many varied stories similar to the one above about white or light coloured swimwear. On occasion, we’ve been able to help with a vigorous soaking in vinegar and swim cleaner which will sometimes remove the yellowing effects. But sometimes it doesn’t. At Sandpipers we frequently ask our customers what they will predominantly be using their swimwear for so we can make appropriate recommendations according to the environments those items will be exposed to. We don’t always have control over the elements and sometimes damaging occurs and is irreversible. The best we can do is be mindful of where and how we wear our most prized swim pieces and to take care of them to the best of our ability. Which brings us to:

A Sandpipers Bonus Tip!
Be mindful of surfaces that your favourite one piece or treasured bikini come in contact with. Avoid sitting on rough surfaces like concrete and wood. Too much friction can cause delicate fabrics to snag or pill (especially the hyper trendy ribbed materials). Always put a towel down before sitting or lying on these types of surfaces.


Now that you’re armed with an arsenal of swim care knowledge you are ready to properly wash, care for, and most importantly enjoy your new swimsuit! We hope these tips have been helpful!

Thanks for stopping by!