Picture this: you've spent ages searching for your dream bikini. You've finally found one that fits and flatters perfectly, and looks super chic. You tell everyone you're going to be wearing it all summer long, but then a few days into your holiday, it's already starting to look a bit old. Maybe the bright colours you loved so much have started to fade, or perhaps there are sand stains turning your once-white swimsuit a dirty shade of brown. Either way, not cool!
Swimwear gets subjected to a lot more abuse than our regular clothing, from soaking in a chlorine-filled pool to sitting on the gritty sand of a beach. However, there are ways you can prolong the life of your swimwear, so that you get the best value for money out of your purchase. Once you've picked out your perfect swimsuit or bikini, here's how to make it last longer:
First and foremost, never, ever put it in the washing machine! Although they may not look it, swimwear fabrics are delicate so hand-washing is the way to go.
If that sounds like a lot of effort, it's really not. Just fill the sink with cool water, add some detergent, and let your swimwear soak for 15-20 minutes. Rinse and you're done!
Wash your swimwear as soon as possible after you've taken it off. If you're heading straight from the pool or beach to the shower, leave it on so it gets rinsed along with you. Swimwear fabric with nylon or elastane is particularly susceptible to chlorine damage if it's not washed out quickly.
Give your swimwear a good rinse as soon as possible, to get dirt, saltwater and especially chlorine out.
One morning at the beach and you're finding sand in your car for the next week, right? That stuff gets everywhere! Unfortunately, one of those places it can get stuck is in your bikini, especially the lining.
Don't try to scrub or brush it off as you may damage the fabric. Instead, wash the swimsuit as above and leave it to dry completely (more on that below), then give it a vigorous shake. If there are still sand particles after that, switch your hairdryer to the cool setting and blast them away!
Like the no-washing-machine rule, this one's important: no tumble-drying! Swimwear fabrics are stretchy because they contain elastic fibres, but extreme heat breaks them down - and no one likes a swimsuit with a baggy bum.
For the same reason, avoid the temptation to leave your swimwear in direct sunlight to dry it quicker. Find an area of shade and lay it flat, because hanging it whilst wet can stretch it out of shape.
And speaking of stretching, don't twist or wring your swimwear after rinsing. Instead, lay it out on a dry towel and roll the towel up, then squeeze gently to get the water out.
Lay your swimwear flat to dry so that it doesn't get stretched out and misshapen.
The sun may make your skin turn darker, but it makes fabrics lighter. UV radiation breaks down dye molecules, 'bleaching' the material by making colours appear less vivid. The only way to prevent this altogether really is to stay out of the sun, but you probably don't want to do that!
You can slow down the process however by sunbathing before you swim, since wet swimsuit fabric is weaker and therefore easier to damage and fade.
Swimsuit colours can also run into each other, turning crisp, black-on-white lines for example into blurred grey edges. There's an easy way to stop this happening - soak the swimwear when it's new in a mixture of salt and vinegar, diluted with water, which 'sets' the dye so it shouldn't leak.
Your holiday's over and you're headed home until the next one - boohoo! Make sure you store your swimsuit or bikini carefully so that it'll still be in perfect condition when you pull it out for the next trip.
Most importantly, ensure the swimwear is totally dry before stuffing it in a drawer. Damp fabric is a paradise for mold and mildew - ew! Store swimwear flat, not hanging up, so the fabric doesn't get stretched, and if it has molded cups, ensure these aren't crushed underneath other clothing or they could get permanently misshapen.
A few more tips to care for your swimwear...
- Sit on a towel - whether you're on the sand, a lounger, or the edge of a pool, that textured surface can cause little pulls to appear in the smooth swimwear fabric. Always pop a soft towel down first.
- Apply sunscreen first - Sunscreen (and any kind of lotion, body oil, deodorant etc.) can stain the fabric. Allow it to dry before you put your swimwear on.
- Stay out of the hot tub - like sunshine, the heat is terrible for swimwear fabric. Also like sunshine, you're probably going to ignore this advice and go in anyway! We recommend wearing an old swimsuit for the hot tub that you won't mind so much if it gets damaged, and saving your favourite or new pieces for elsewhere.
- Alternate your swimwear - The elastic fibres in swimwear need time to relax back into shape between wears, or the fabric loses it stretch and becomes baggy. So take multiple swimsuits or bikinis on holiday with you and swap between them. This also means you can allow each one to dry properly, instead of resorting to heat to dry them quick because you need to wear it again for your afternoon swim.
Now that you know how to keep your swimwear in tip-top condition, you can go forth and buy that bikini you've been lusting after, knowing that you'll be wearing it for many holidays to come! Happy shopping.