If you’re lucky to spend most of the summer in a swimsuit, you’re lucky enough -- but do you know how to best care for the delicate garment?
Whether your laundry basket is full of bikinis, trunks or rash guards for little ones, there are some universal rules for stretching the life of swimwear.
Jennifer Ahoni, Tide senior scientific communications manager and scientist, and Patrick Harewood, principal scientist for laundry detergent at Henkel in North America, chatted with Fox News about tips and tricks for washing swimsuits for the whole family, from common care mistakes to why you should never throw your favorite suit in the dryer.
To begin, check to make sure that care labels don’t list the apparel as dry clean only. Then, it’s time to hand wash.
“While it's convenient to just throw your clothes into the washing machine after a day at the beach or pool, hand washing your bathing suit will extend its life, while removing chlorine, salt, sunscreen, and any natural oils on the fabric,” Ahoni explained.
The sooner you also rinse out swimwear after use, Harewood advised, the better.
“Try to rinse and wash suits as soon as possible. Fibers, like spandex, that can be found in many swimsuits can ‘hold on’ and then ‘release’ unwanted odors,” he said. “Addressing cleaning quickly can help avoid this, and try not to leave them long wet in bags after returning home from your favorite pool or beach.”
When rinsing out the suit, try a mild detergent, such as Tide Free and Gentle or All Free Clear, to protect colors from chlorine (if the swimmer was in a pool,) which can further fade a suit. Washing out the garments with clean water helps remove “as much chlorine, salt, and sunscreen from the suits as possible,” which can further damage fabrics, Ahoni said.
Next, lay swimsuits flat in a cool place indoors to air-dry out, in order to prevent stretching and protect fibers, Harewood recommended.
As for general care tips, the experts debunked other popular myths and misconceptions about washing swimwear that might surprise even the most seasoned launderer.
“Don’t dry in the sunlight. The UV light can cause fading and in some cases uneven fading,” Ahoni suggested. “Don’t dry in the dryer. The heat can damage the suit’s elasticity.”
While you’re at it, don’t try to iron a suit or wring out the garment, Harewood said. These practices can easily “destroy the elastic and cause the swimsuit to become misshapen,” he stressed, and also “distort the shape of the swimsuit.”
And for one final style tip, don’t throw swimwear in the washer or dryer if you want it to last more than one summer season.
Though machine washing and drying may seem convenient, Ahoni said, “both can damage the delicate fabric fibers through agitation and heat.”