How to Wash Swimwear

Bathing suits are specially designed for swimming, they are completely different from your everyday clothing and need to be treated with extra care. Most swimsuits are made from very unique materials and will wear down and become damaged if placed in the washing machine or dryer. Following these simple tips will help to keep your bathing suit looking good and lasting a long time.

What you will need

  • Sink or small tub
  • Detergent made for swimwear*, or gentle liquid hand soap such as Dove or Neutrogena
  • Towels
  • Flat surface

*You can generally find detergent for swimwear at stores that specialize in swimwear or online.

Cleaning Swimwear: The Process:

  1. Always read the tag on your bathing suit first, and if the manufacturer’s recommendations for washing/drying contradict anything in this article, opt for following the manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Rinse your bathing suit thoroughly in the sink or tub with cool water.
  3. Fill sink or tub with cold water and add amount of swimwear detergent indicated on the product package. If using hand soap, add about a teaspoon per gallon of water.
  4. Place bathing suit in the sudsy water and gently massage with your hands (DO NOT wring or twist bathing suit as doing so may damage the material).
  5. Remove bathing suit, drain sudsy water from sink or tub and refill with fresh cool water.
  6. Place bathing suit in the fresh water and gently massage to rinse out soap residue. Again, DO NOT twist or wring the suit as this may cause damage.
  7. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until no soap remains in the bathing suit and the water stays clear.
  8. Remove bathing suit from the water, gently squeeze excess water (again, never twist or wring the bathing suit)
  9. Lay a towel out on a flat surface and lay the bathing suit flat on top of the towel to air dry. DO NOT place the bathing suit in the sun as this may cause fading.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • NEVER wash your bathing suit in a washing machine as the agitation and detergent will break down the materials quickly and significantly reduce the life of your bathing suit.
  • NEVER dry your bathing suit in a dryer as the heat and mechanics of the dryer will break down the elastic and other material on the bathing suit.
  • ALWAYS rinse your bathing suit thoroughly with cool water after swimming. Pool water residue (i.e. chlorine), salt water, sand, suntan lotion and other contaminants will cause the fabric to become brittle or faded, and will significantly shorten the useful life of your suit. Even if you don’t have time to wash it thoroughly a good rinsing will help reduce the effects.
  • NEVER use bleach on your bathing suit as this may cause damage and discoloration.
  • Avoid using the bathing suit “wringers” available in many swimming pool locker rooms. While these devices may remove excess water, they are very rough on the material, can snag the fabric and may damage the elastic of the bathing suit.
  • Always air dry your bathing suit by laying it flat. If you hang the suit, it may cause it to lose its shape.
  • Never dry your bathing suit in the sun as it may cause fading or discoloration.


  1. Kathy says:

    New bathing suits, before wear, should be soaked in cold water and white vinegar so the colors set and do not run when wet. Most GOOD bathing suit companies will tell you that. Then wash by hand the usual way. With the new washers coming out, the hand wash or very gentle cycle is OK as long as the agitator is very slow. But, lay it flat to dry with a lot of air circulation so as not to get mildewy smelling!

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