Finding a swimsuit you love is not always an easy task. That’s why it’s so important to care for your swimsuit properly when you find one you love. Tossing it into the wash with the rest of your clothes and throwing it in the dryer over and over may clean it, but it will also stretch it out and prompt the color to fade more quickly.
You’ll also lose any SPF benefits that the swimsuit may have had. Rays from the sun, sand from the beach, chlorine from the pool, and oily ingredients from sunscreen should all be considered when caring for your swimwear. Keeping those factors in mind, here’s how to care for your plus-size swimwear so you can enjoy wearing it all summer long.
After you’re done doing laps or having fun in the sun, it’s often easier to just toss the swimsuit into your beach bag to wash later or let it hang to dry. After all, when our minds are in "workout" or "playing in the sun" mode, it’s hard to switch to “time to do laundry" mode. But it’s important to rinse your swimwear at least right away. Try not to think of it as a daunting task, and instead think of it as one quick step to ensuring your swimwear stays lovely swim after swim.
Simply rinsing it after wearing it will help minimize the amount of time your swimsuit is exposed to things that aren’t good for it, such as sunscreen, sand, salt, chlorine, and perspiration. It also minimizes any chance of unwanted odors lingering on the suit. If you don’t have access to clean water to rinse your swimsuit, be sure to rinse it as soon as you get home or back to your hotel room.
Caring for a swimsuit doesn’t involve just rinsing it. You still have to wash it. Do not wash it in the washing machine, though. This needs to be done by hand. Why? Because the washing machine works by agitating fabric to get it clean. Swimsuits aren’t meant for agitation, even if you put the machine on the gentle cycle. And if you have plus-size underwire swimwear, you risk having the underwire poke through or becoming misshapen when being tossed around in the washing machine.
On that note, you’ll want to fill the sink with water and use a mild soap or hand soap, but make sure it doesn’t contain any moisturizers. Be aware that many typical types of laundry detergent are too strong for swimsuits and can cause the colors to fade. And just in case you’re wondering, no, you should not use bleach, even on white swimsuits. Bleach is one of the harshest detergents out there, and it will break down the fabric.
If you notice any marks on your bathing suit either before or after you wash it, it could be from sunscreen or suntan lotion. Two common methods should help you get them out: one using baking soda and one using vinegar.
If you decide to use baking soda, simply sprinkle a good amount on the stain — enough to cover it completely — and let it sit for at least an hour. Then gently wash it with mild soap by hand. If you're using vinegar, you can apply it directly to the stain and gently rub it before washing it, or you can let it soak in a sink that's filled with a mixture of 25% vinegar and 75% water. In the future, making sure your sunscreen is completely absorbed into the skin before putting on your swimsuit will help prevent sunscreen stains.
Immediately after washing your swimsuit, you may be tempted to put it in the dryer. Don’t! The heat and tumbling are a combination that will stretch it out and cause the fibers to wear down. Don’t even wring the water out of it by squeezing and twisting it. Instead, get a dry towel, lay the swimsuit on top of it, and roll up the towel. If you have a plus-size two-piece bathing suit, use a separate towel for each. Then you can gently push on it and squeeze it. Next, simply unroll the towel, remove the swimsuit, and lay it flat to dry. Hanging it up to dry will cause the water to pool at the bottom, which can stretch out the swimsuit.
If handwashing isn’t convenient, try to put your swimsuit in a mesh bag to keep the straps from getting caught on other clothing items and being stretched out. But trying to wash it by hand most of the time and following the rest of the tips mentioned here will ensure your plus-size swimwear looks great summer after summer.