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washing swimsuits

Finding the perfect swimsuit is no easy task. Of course, you want it to fit flawlessly and flatter your unique figure, highlighting your assets while making you feel confident at the beach or the pool. And did you know that certain habits can actually preserve the longevity of your swimsuits?

Read on to find out what strategies you can use to lengthen your bathing suit’s lifespan so you can wear it for seasons to come.

Try a pre-swim vinegar soak

Did you know that vinegar has both antibacterial and deodorizing properties? Not only that, but it can help to set the pigment in the dye on your bathing suit, making it less likely to fade or bleed in the future. That’s why we advise doing a vinegar soak before you wear it for the first time (and any time you think it needs a little extra help getting clean — such as after a really long beach day when you’ve been sweating in the heat). Simply add a couple tablespoons to a basin or sink full of water and allow you swimsuit to soak for 20 to 30 minutes.

Wash as quickly as possible after swimming

Whether you’re taking a dip in the ocean or a pool, you should always try to wash your bathing suit as soon as possible afterward. The longer than your sweat, sunblock, and any chlorine or salt in the water sit on the fabric of your bathing suit, the more damage they’ll do to the material. If you don’t have a change of clothes or aren’t ready to head home yet, you can even take a quick shower with your bathing suit still on to help preserve the fabric.

Related: 7 Things To Look For In The Perfect Swimsuit

…And dry ASAP, too

Whatever you do, don’t let your damp swimsuit sit in a gym/beach bag, hamper, etc., because this makes it more prone to mildew and other bacteria. Even if you can’t hand wash the bathing suit right away, rinse it a few times with cold water and lay it on a flat surface.

Hand wash only

Sure, it can be tempting to toss your bathing suits in the washing machine, but we don’t recommend it. Treat your swimsuits like bras — they’re just as delicate, and a machine can put them through too much agitation, leaving them misshapen and ill-fitting and potentially destroying decorative details.

Instead, soak your bathing suit in a sink or basin full of water with a capful of detergent specifically formulated for delicates (even baby shampoo will work in a pinch). After letting them soak for 30 minutes, rinse them out until the water runs clear. If you notice any discoloring or stains (this typically happens where you sweat or apply sunscreen, so near the underband, underarms, or straps), you can try rubbing a laundry soap bar on those areas for a little spot treatment. Remember: hot water can wreak havoc on swimwear, so always be sure to wash it in cool or lukewarm water. (This is also why we recommend setting aside one bathing suit for the hot tub — ideally one you didn’t invest a lot in).

Don’t forget to take out any removable padding in the cups and wash that separately. It can be re-inserted once the bathing suit is dry.

Dry carefully

Just as bathing suits aren’t meant to be washed in a machine, they aren’t meant to be dried in one, either. A dryer subjects your swimsuit to far too much heat, which can break down the elastic, bend the underwires out of shape, and even cause the fabric to shrink. Also, don’t leave your swimwear to dry in the sun, as the UV rays can cause the material to fade. Your instinct may be to wring out excess water, but avoid this at all costs — it can stretch out the bathing suit in certain areas, meaning it won’t fit you as well. And while we’re on the subject, don’t hang your bathing suits by the straps or ties as this can also stretch them out. Lay your bathing suit flat on a towel to absorb extra moisture. You can even press it gently between two towels if you want it to dry faster. And you can also hang a bathing suit on a drying rack (but again, never by straps or ties).

A quality swimsuit is an investment. So once you find one that aligns with your personal style and fits your body well, you obviously want to make sure it lasts. Follow the advice in this guide to keep your favorite bathing suits in tip-top condition.

Related: How To Buy A Supportive Swimsuit

We Highly Recommend

If you’re shopping for a swimsuit that fits your bust perfectly, it’s always a good idea to seek out a second opinion. We know how hard it is to find swimsuit tops that stay in place, especially when you’re shopping on your own. If you’re full-busted and you’ve struggled with finding a flattering swimsuit top or if you’ve never tried a bra-sized swim top before, it’s time to let a bra fitter help.

Many specialty lingerie boutiques offer bra fittings and carry a selection of swimsuits and swimsuit tops. Their expert bra fitters can help take the pain and frustration out of swimsuit shopping and do all the work for you. They can help you find a bra-sized swimsuit top with the support and lift that you’re looking for and they can also help you find new everyday bras that fit well and feel good. Even better, their product knowledge can save you time and money. Plus, they know where all of the best swimsuits are hiding.

If you’re not happy with the swimsuits in your closet, it’s time to make a change. Visit our specialty store locator to find a store near you and schedule an appointment.

Happy swimsuit shopping!

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Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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