Top tips – how to make your swimwear last longer

swimwear care guide

What not to do with your swimwear: line drying in direct sunlight

Most of us probably own a favourite piece of swimwear that has gone baggy, lost its shape or is starting to look a bit threadbare. Why? Because our recent swimwear survey reveals that when it comes to our swimming kit, we’re a nation of hoarders. A third of UK women owned up to a piece of swimwear that is five years old or even older, while a further third have a lingering swimsuit or bikini that is three or four years old. So, unless these items of swimwear have been sitting in drawers unused for years they are probably starting to show a little wear, because the hard truth is that pretty much everything you do in your swimwear can damage it, especially if you don’t look after it properly.

And here’s the thing. Most of us don’t. Back in 2012 to promote its Xtra Life Lycra fibre, Invista conducted a survey that looked at women’s top requirements for swimwear and how they look after it. At number one was fit (confirmed by our own survey results as 61% of you said fit was your first consideration), but the survey also found that most women were jeopardising the fit of their swimwear by poor garment care.

Looking after your swimwear may not be that high on your list of holiday priorities after relaxing, eating, drinking, sunbathing and having fun, etc, but if you’ve spent a bit of money of your swimsuit or bikini – easy to do, as swimwear can be expensive – it might be worth taking a bit more time over it. The salt, sand and sun on the beach plus chlorine from swimming pools, sunscreen and make up and even sweat all have a detrimental effect on swimwear fabric, particularly its delicate stretch fibres that help to maintain its shape, and not washing it carefully or often enough could hasten its demise.

Now we’ll be the first to admit that washing our swimwear after every wear (yes, washing, not just rinsing) can seem like an onerous task, but you don’t have to go putting a load in the washing machine every day just to get it done. In fact, forget the washing machine. Swimwear is like lingerie in that it’s delicate, and hand-washing is definitely the way to go. But you don’t need to lug special hand-wash detergent on holiday with you either. Any gentle soap will do, including hand soap.

The first step, however, is rinse, rinse, rinse. Wearing a piece of swimwear all day when you’re in and out of the pool or sea, basking in the sun to dry it off and regularly applying sunscreen, will put it through the wringer. If there is shower on the beach or by the pool, it’s an idea to rinse off after every dip just to stop the build-up of chlorine and salt, but if not make sure you rinse out your swimwear as soon as you get home.

Rinsing will remove some of the offending chemicals from your day by the pool, but ideally it needs a wash as well. If this simply isn’t practical or you don’t have time, just leaving it to soak for a while in the bathroom sink is better than nothing.

No aggressive wringing out please when it comes to dry time. Again, think of your swimwear in the same way as your underwear because many of the same rules apply. Squeezing out excess water with a clean, dry towel is your best bet, and it’s also best to lie your swimwear flat to dry as the weight of a wet suit can cause it to stretch. The big no no, however, is leaving it to dry in direct sunlight, even though that might be quicker. Heat, whether from the sun, the jacuzzi or a tumble dryer, can degrade those stretch fibres and the sun can also cause the fabric to fade. If you’re worried it won’t be dry in time for the next day, pack more swimwear! It’s better for the shape recovery of your suit if you give it a day off anyway.

None of this has to take up a huge amount of time but can make a big difference to how long your swimwear lasts. That same survey by Invista found that most women want and expect their swimwear to last them through two seasons, but that many reported signs of damage well before then. So we’re hoping the fact that so many of you have swimwear that is way older than this means you all have super duper care routines and didn’t need to read this at all…

However, if you’re plagued by swimwear that just doesn’t seem to hold up, here are our quick tips for keeping it looking good for longer.

  • Take at least two items of swimwear on holiday with you so you can alternate day by day.
  • If you regularly swim in a pool, look out for swimwear with extra chlorine resistance.
  • Avoid getting sunscreen on your swimwear as much as possible and if you do, make sure you wash it off thoroughly.
  • Be careful not to snag your suit on abrasive surfaces. Even sand can damage the fabric.
  • Make use of poolside or beach showers during the day if there are any and always rinse out your swimwear after each wear.
  • Hand-wash after every use if you can using a gentle detergent.
  • Dry flat out of direct sunlight or heat. Never tumble dry.

Image via Shutterstock. Copyright Gts.

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