If you could take a before and after photo of your swimsuit, it might prove something that you’ve suspected all along: it can easily fade and stretch over time, leaving you thinking, “Did my swimsuit always look like this?” Your swimwear is exposed to things that can actually ruin the fibers in the fabric, so it’s only natural that the fabric loses its color or doesn’t stay where it should on your body. But if Lycra XLife is listed as one of the materials on the tag, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how similar the photos might look before wearing it compared to a year after wearing it. After all, Lycra XLife is 10 times stronger than unprotected fabric. Let’s go over why Lycra XLife makes a great choice for swimwear, as well as other simple tips for keeping it looking fresh.
Pools need something to keep the bacteria out, which is why chlorine is commonly used to keep people safe. But it is notoriously unfriendly to swimsuits. In fact, you may have even noticed that it is unfriendly to your hair too, either lightening it or making dyed hair look a bit greenish in color. Chlorine breaks down your hair over time, making it duller in appearance. It does the same to the fabric of your swimsuit — eating away at it while making the colors fade and affecting its ability to bounce back from being stretched out.
There are a couple of things you can do to combat the effects of chemicals on your swimwear, however. First, you can wash it right away to get all that chlorine out and prevent it from doing additional damage. If you’re at a pool with a shower, step into the shower with your suit on right away before taking it off and getting dressed. That can save lots of time. Second, you can purchase a swimsuit that has Lycra XL in it. It is more chlorine-resistant than other materials, and it will keep your suit looking fresh for longer.
While giving your suit a good rinse in the shower after swimming will help get the chlorine out, you’ll still need to give it a proper washing on occasion. And when you do, you should wash it by hand instead of throwing it in the washing machine, which is a little too tough on swimwear. Even on the gentle setting, straps could get stretched and tangled.
To wash your swimsuit by hand, use cold water to fill your sink. While the sink is filling with water, squeeze in some mild hand soap. Avoid laundry detergent, which can be too harsh on a swimsuit. Let the swimwear soak in the water for 15 minutes, then gently rub the suit against itself to help any dirt come out. Drain the sink and then rinse the suit with cold, running water. After washing your swimsuit by hand, lay it on a towel and roll it up to remove any excess water. Finally, lay it flat to dry so that any remaining water weight doesn’t make it stretch.
There are times when hand-washing isn’t convenient or when you simply can’t be bothered with washing a swimsuit by hand. On occasion, this is OK, especially if it is swimwear for girls or boys' swim trunks, which you may end up washing more than your own.
With a washing machine, use a small laundry bag to contain the swimsuit so that straps don’t get tangled in the wash. Use a detergent that is free of bleach and make sure you're using cold water on the gentle cycle. It's important to not put the suit in the dryer, as it may become more damaged. Dry it by laying it flat in a towel like mentioned in the hand-washing directions above.
As durable as swimwear can be, it is still susceptible to stains. One common stain that tends to haunt swimsuits is sunscreen, especially if it is the spray kind, as you can’t always prevent it from getting on your suit. In this case, you’ll want to take an additional step before washing it by hand. One option is to sprinkle baking soda on the stain and then let it sit for a couple of hours. Then simply wash it by hand like you normally would. Alternatively, you could apply vinegar to the stain and let it sit before rinsing and washing. You’ll want to make sure you rinse it well to get rid of the vinegar scent. You can do the same with any rashguards that get dirty as well.
Knowing how to care for your swimsuit and what type of materials to look for when buying one will help ensure you can enjoy it for years to come.