Graphic: Shep McAllister
5 Neat ThingsJolie 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.   

HELLO SUMMER!!! I hope everyone had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend filled with fun in the sun … mostly because if you had some fun in the sun, this column is going to be relevant to your interests, for today we shall talk about the laundry products that will help to keep your swimsuits looking great all summer long.

Ask a Clean Person and Style Girlfriend are teaming up this month to bring you the latest on what to wear for spring and summer...and how to care for your new wardrobe acquisitions. This week: swimsuits.

For All Suits: Mesh Washing Bags

Hand-washing bathing suits is ideal, but honestly, machine washing is A-OK, and your swimwear will be just fine if you do this one thing: Put the suit in a mesh washing bag. This will do two important things; first, it will keep the suit from getting tangled around other items of clothing in the wash. Straps and ties and embellishments can easily become stretched out and otherwise damaged if suits are allowed to roam free in the washing machine alongside all the rest of your stuff, which is why the mesh bag is so crucial. Second, the mesh bag makes it super easy to pull bathing suits out of the load of wash before you put it in the dryer — bathing suits will last so so so much longer if you let them air dry, rather than exposing them to the high heat of a dryer, which will cause fading and breakdown of the fabric.

White Brite
Graphic: Shep McAllister

For White & Light-Colored Suits: White Brite

The go-to whiteners and brighteners I recommend — oxygen bleaches like OxiClean or Clorox Oxi Magic — are no bueno for swimsuits, because they cause a chemical reaction when they come in contact with sunscreen. (Which I’m going to presume you’re wearing because you’re not insane.) When white or light-colored swimsuits turn yellow, either because of chlorine damage or because of sunscreen staining, reach for White Brite to reverse the damage. It’s safe to use on elastic, unlike chlorine bleach which should never, ever be used on swimsuits or anything else with elastic.

Woolite Darks Detergent
Graphic: Shep McAllister

For Black, Navy and Other Dark-Colored Suits: Woolite Darks Detergent

Dark bathing suits will suffer more from fading than other dark clothing, because of exposure to sun, as well as to chlorinated or salt water that can strip away vibrancy. Rinsing suits well post-wear can help to stave off some of that damage, but it’s also not a bad idea to invest in a detergent formulated for dark clothing — that can also be used on dark jeans and athleisure — to prevent and reverse fading. All bathing suits should be washed with cold water and air dried, but that’s especially true of darker ones because heat will cause further fading.

For Suits That Develop Pills: Fabric Shaver

Bathing suits can suffer from other kinds of damage than just what’s caused by sun and water: Pilling happens when fibers become frayed or broken, causing the loose threads to become tangled; with bathing suits, pill damage most commonly happens because you’ve sat on a concrete pool deck, or from contact with rough-surfaced pool or hot tub interiors. Pills can also happen if you launder swimsuits alongside heavy items like jeans, because of the friction caused by heavy fabrics against more delicate ones (this is why I’m always banging on about the mesh bags). Fabric shavers can safely remove pills without causing damage, so your swimsuit won’t look like an old woolen sweater!

2 Waterproof Wet Dry Bags
Graphic: Shep McAllister

For Suits That You’re Traveling With: A Wet Bag

When you can’t get your swimsuit directly into the wash, one of the best things you can to do keep it from suffering from damage because of exposure to sun, chlorinated or salt water, or sunscreen is to rinse it off post-wear. But if you’re traveling, you might not want to get your suit wet again right before you head home … enter the wet bag! Wet bags are great for travel (and for stashing sweaty gym gear, too!) because they’re waterproof, so you can pack wet items without worrying about everything else in your suitcase getting wet and smelly.