Caring for Your Swimsuits: How Do You Wash, Dry, or Clean Your Swimwear?
20th July 2017.When you need new swimwear, you could end up spending a considerable amount of time searching stores and trying on different articles. Once you finally do find the swimsuits that you love, though, how much thought do you pay to them after purchase? You put them on, dive into the pool, and do your laps for the day, and when you're done, you might just throw it over a chair outdoors at home to let it dry. Is that really the best way to approach swimsuit care? Unfortunately, the low maintenance approach isn't the best one to take. Over the long term, poor care can lead to a degraded quality and even deterioration of your swimwear. That could leave you in a situation where you should toss them in the bin and start shopping again! So how can you avoid that? Start by thinking of your swimwear as regular clothing. It needs washing and proper care just like the shirts and trousers you wear every day. Meanwhile, a thoughtful approach to the swimwear you purchase can make the process simpler. Some fabrics are easier to care for, while others are more durable but provide an advantage regarding longevity. Which fabrics are best? What are these methods you should use? Let's put this issue under the microscope and find the underlying cause of these questions.
Understand the different types of swimsuit fabric
How you will care for your swimwear will depend in large part on the type of material used. There are many different fabric types out there, plus several brands that use multiple fabrics for a stronger, more durable garment for the water. A quick overview of these various fabric types and what you can expect with some of them will aid in developing your understanding of swimwear care. First, one of the most common materials to find in swimwear is spandex. You know this as a highly stretchy material that shows up in everything from yoga pants to cycling jerseys. In swimwear, its close fit to the body gives swimmers some extra speed in the water by reducing drag. Spandex is often just a component, but it can be a significant percentage of the suit. Its elasticity will endure swim after swim if properly cared for, but chlorine is a major enemy. Nylon is next and is also very common due to its light weight. Nylon is a durable fabric, so ripping, tearing, and fraying is less likely. However, it also suffers from chlorine exposure. Sun exposure as well can fade and eventually damage the nylon fibres, so care is essential. When spandex or nylon combine with Lycra, though, their durability to chlorine improves. This stretchy material is found in competitive suits and offers a longer life than some other types. Polyester is the final fabric you'll encounter and care for in swimwear. It is common also for its light weight, and it is resistant to chlorine. A polyester suit is low maintenance compared to many other types, but it does not offer as much speed or comfort in the water. Regardless of what you wear, it's what you do to it once you leave the pool that matters most.
When and how to wash your swimwear
First things first: whether you are swimming in the ocean or a pool, you should always gently rinse your swimwear after you exit the water. Why? It's already wet ? so what is the point of more water? The idea is to rinse away any of the potentially harmful chemicals or accumulated salt inside the fibres. If you do not rinse these contaminants away, they can begin to damage your suit as it dries. We'll discuss how to dry your suit after rinsing below. As a good rule of thumb, though, this is a habit you should develop. With most fabrics, especially polyester and polyester blends, you can proceed to drying after this step and only wash your suit occasionally. For a more expensive or special suit, though, you may want to wash it after every use. Washing will prevent damage and reduce odours, but do not throw it in with the rest of your laundry! Never put swimwear into the washing machine, nor use laundry detergent on the garment. Instead, choose a mild soap for hand washing or a swimwear-specific detergent. In cool, clean water, lather the suit, wash it gently by hand, and then rinse the soap away. It can be helpful to allow the suit to soak in the water for up to 30 minutes, to allow dirt and contaminants to release from the fibres. However, never leave it to soak longer than that, especially overnight. The excess exposure to water can begin to break down the fibres and ruin the garment. Overall, this procedure is fine for virtually all types of swimsuits, but check the tag for any special instructions. Some materials may require more or less handling, depending on the quality and its blend. Once you've washed it, is time for drying.
Drying and storing your swimwear safely
Under no circumstances should you toss your wet swimsuit into an electric dryer to finish the job after washing. Even on low heat, the tumbling action can begin to stretch out the suit and destroy its elasticity. Fabrics like Spandex and Lycra perform very poorly under heat exposure. Likewise, you do not want to ever wring the swimwear out like a towel. While that may seem like it goes against common sense, think again about the fibres. The twisting and wringing could create tiny tears you can't even see. Over time, those tears can become large and develop into holes. Do not hang the suit to dry, either. Water can soak down to the bottom of the swimwear and pool there, causing the fabric to stretch. It may not fit properly the next time you go to don it for swimming! Instead, there is one tried and true method to use: a towel. Place the wet suit flat on a towel and gently roll it up in a cylinder, squeezing as you go. Unroll the towel, and you should now have a suit that is only just damp. Lay it flat away from sunlight and direct heat to allow it to finish drying before storage. It's that simple! You can also pat the suit dry if you do not have time or space to roll. Never put away a suit that is still damp; it may not retain its shape properly.
How to tell when you need to replace your swimwear
Even with this level of care, swimsuits will eventually begin to fall apart. The proper care can extend its longevity, but not forever. What should you look for when washing these items to know it might be time to consider a replacement? The fit is the first thing you should consider. If a spandex or Lycra suit feels pouchy or loose on your body, it is probably no longer suitable for swimming. Next, look for rips and tears. These may be small, but you should examine the suit during cleaning. A quick check can tip you off to deterioration before it becomes a major problem. No one wants to suffer an embarrassing swimsuit tear in the water! You can also look for fraying of the fabric, or spots that look like they have become thin over time. The easiest way to avoid the constant need to replace your swimsuits is to keep several at once. Rotate between your suits; this way, you can subject them to less washing and stress overall.
Make cleaning a part of your swim routine
When you make an investment in swimwear that fits well and gives you the advantages in the water you want, doesn't it make sense to respect that investment? Tossing your swimwear into the laundry with a squirt of detergent just won't work over the long term. With the tips we've described, though, you should be able to wash and care for your swim clothes just as well as anything else in your wardrobe. Don't forget to think carefully about the type of material your next swimsuit is made from, either. It could mean the difference between a quick rinse and a careful cleaning process to keep it in good shape! Follow @SportNessUK