PSA: Your Sunscreen Is Destroying Your Swimsuits—Here's the Right Way to Wash Them

Sunscreen, salt, and sun are destroying your bathing suits. But don't worry, here's how to wash a swimsuit so it will last (almost) forever.

So they'll last forever.

Over the course of a typical summer—beach trips, pool visits, and countless sunscreen applications, included—your swimsuits go through a lot. Yet, how often do you take the time to wash them? There's a common misconception that if you don't go in the water, you don't have to wash your bathing suit, right? But there's a lot more than just salt and chlorine that can ruin your suit and destroy the fibers over time: sunscreen, tanning oil, and sweat can also make your brand-new bathing suit look dingy quickly. To keep your favorite bathing suits around for many summers to come, the only solution is to wash them after every single wear. The good news is, once you learn how to wash bathing suits the right way, the entire process outlined below should only take a couple minutes.

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Can You Wash Swimsuits in a Washing Machine?

For most swimsuits, washing by hand is best. If the whole point is to extend the life of your bathing suit, you'll want to avoid the wear and tear caused by a washing machine. The silver lining: washing by hand shouldn't take long, and it won't require doing an entire load of laundry.

What Kind of Detergent Should You Use?

Look for a mild detergent intended for delicates. Another safe bet is a detergent designed for fabrics with spandex, such as The Laundress Sport Detergent ($13,

How to Wash a Swimsuit

What You'll Need:

  • Mild detergent

  • Clean white towel

Follow These Steps:

  1. Fill your sink with cold water and one capful of mild detergent. Place the bathing suit in the water and gently swish it around the sudsy water. Avoid twisting or scrubbing the swimsuit.

  2. Lift up the swimsuit and drain the sink. Thoroughly rinse the garment with clean, cool water.

  3. Lightly press the suit to remove excess water, but avoid wringing it out, which can cause the suit to lose its shape.

  4. Place the white towel on the floor, arrange the bathing suit on top, then roll the suit inside the towel.

  5. Let the swimsuit dry in a well-ventilated spot that's out of the sun to prevent fading. Avoid hanging the swimsuit on a metal rod, which can leave a rust stain.