You found the perfect swimsuit and you wear it at the beach. After a few weeks the bright colors fade, the material is a bit looser around your body, and the fabric forms piles, those tiny ball-shaped pieces of fluff characteristic of an older suit. Where did everything go wrong? How can you make your bathing suit last?
A little care will go a long way. The main culprits are chlorine, salt, the sun, hot tubs, and suntan lotions. Lycra, the material that allows the great stretch and comfort in your suit, is a fragile material. Chlorine and chemicals easily wear it down, and abrasive surfaces tear the fabric. Hot water permanently stretches the elastic, and dryer sheets, detergent and washing machines will finally destroy it. Most of these elements you can not avoid, but some care will help prolong the life of your swimsuit.
Never machine wash your suit – Hand wash the fabric with a gentle soap like Zero, and hang it to dry. Never use a dryer or an iron.
Heat is bad – If your suit is wet, the heat from the sun will fade the colors and loosen the elasticity. If you enter a hot tub, wear an older suit.
After a swim, rinse – Whether in an ocean, swimming pool or hot tub, salt, chlorine, and bromine will eat away at the fabric. Rinsing yourself with cool or lukewarm tap water will wash away a lot of the harmful minerals and chemicals. To dry with the suit still on, lay in a shaded area. Otherwise, hang it to dry in the shade.
Don’t wrap your swimsuit in your towel after swimming – Your towel will contain all the chemicals you tried rinsing off your suit. Worse, if everything is in a closed bag in the sun, the towel will heat up, the worst combination possible.
Bring two swimsuits – Wait 24 hours for your first one to dry. It will form back into its original shape. Wearing the same suit the next day will prevent the fabric from doing this.
Careful where you sit – Pool edges and decks are rough on the fabric, even if it feels smooth. Place a towel underneath before sitting.
Tanning – Tan before you swim. That way your suit remains dry, so the sun won’t cause as much damage to the material. If you prefer swimming first, change into an alternate, dry suit to sunbathe with.
Today, there are higher end suits that are chemical-resistant and made with stronger fabric. Some chlorine-proof suits have the disadvantage of being made of a high percentage polyester, a fiber much stronger than Lycra but not nearly as elastic and comfortable. The trade-off might not be to your advantage.
A great alternative is a variety of microfiber beachwear on the market. These suits are constructed with far stronger, advanced materials or a stronger manufactured weave of polyester and spandex. For instance, tan through bathing suits can be fully machine-washed, are chlorine and salt-resistant, and dry quickly.
While no suit will last forever, the proper care will keep the colors vibrant and the shape perfectly form fitting though the entire season, instead of a single month. And this will definitely keep you smiling at the beach.