No one, no matter how on point their summer body is, likes shopping for bathing suits. They’re expensive, and trying them on is a fluorescent-lit nightmare. It’s enough to make anyone crazy/adopt a kaftan-as-beachwear signature look. But, realistically, most of us are going to stick with bathing suits as swimwear, tempting though the kaftan-as-beachwear signature look may be, which means that making them last a long, long time — so as to spare you having to buy a new one — is a good thing to do.
Here are five products that will help you extend the life of your suits and get many future summers worth of wear out of them.
Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives. Do you need product recs? Email Jolie or tweet at her with requests or questions!
Hand-laundering bathing suits is the ideal way to care for them, as it’s a much gentler experience for these delicate garments than is machine-washing. (With that said, I know most of you won’t opt to hand-wash your suits, but I’m duty-bound to tell you that hand-washing is best.)
The thing is this: hand-laundering is incredibly easy, and that’s especially true if you opt for a no-rinse specialty detergent like Soakwash. Soakwash’s no-rinse formula truly speeds up the already pretty speedy process of hand-washing, and it also gets high marks in testing. It comes in five scents (Celebration, Fig, Yuzu, Pineapple Grove and Lacey), as well as a fragrance-free formula for those who prefer that their detergent is free of perfumes. If you can’t decide which scent is for you, or if you want something to take with you on that beach vacation for hotel room or AirBnB laundering, check out the assortment of 5ml sample packs.
If you are going to launder your bathing suits in the machine — which, let’s level, most of you are — you should for sure invest in a set of mesh washing bags. The use of a mesh bag helps to keep straps, hooks and embellishments like beading or fringe (what? You don’t have a beaded, fringed bikini? Let’s change that!) from becoming damaged in the wash. When loose, bathing suits can become tangled around other clothing, which can result in stretching. So, bag ‘em up!
The other benefit of using a mesh bag is that you can easily pluck it out of the washing machine and set it aside as you transfer the rest of the load to the dryer. Bathing suits should be air dried, rather than exposed to the heat of a dryer, which will cause fading and contribute to the loss of elasticity.
If your white and light-colored swimsuits have gone yellow because of chlorine exposure, or are stained from sunscreen, you need White Brite and here’s why: Swimsuits shouldn’t be washed with chlorine bleach, which will break down the elastic (the chlorine in the pool isn’t great for suits either, which is why rinsing a suit off in water, post-wearing, is such a good thing to do.) Chlorine bleach, as well as oxygen bleach, will also have a negative reaction to an ingredient called avobenzone that’s found in many sunscreens.
Enter White Brite, which is safe to use on elastic and won’t deepen stains caused by sunscreen. White Brite is a laundry booster, which means that it’s used in the wash in concert with, rather than in place of, your regular detergent.
Over on the other end of the color spectrum are the black, navy, brown, merlot, emerald, etc, etc, etc. bathing suits that are prone to fading because of chlorine and/or sun exposure. Laundering bathing suits in cold water, and air drying, rather than machine drying, will go a long way to preserve the color in dark suits. But if you really want to step up your game, grab a bottle of Woolite Darks. The detergent is formulated to keep darks darker for up to 30 washes.
If you’re a pool person, odds are that the tush of your suit has started to pill — the term for those little balls that form on fabric when the fibers fray or break and become tangled — from sitting on concrete pool decks or coming in contact with rough-surfaced pool interiors. You could invest in a suit saver mat, but are you really going to do that? Probably not. That’s some serious high-level fussiness, and I say that from a place of deep admiration for the high-level fussy person!
A better solution is to invest in a battery operated fabric shaver, which will quickly remove pills from bathing suits (and plenty of other garments, from fine cottons to heavy woolens) without making holes in the fabric.