Once you find that perfect swimsuit for you and your wallet, all that fun in the sun can take a serious toll on your swimwear. Whether you practically live in it all summer or only take it out a few times per year, it can really hurt to see your favorite bathing suit beat up after only a few wears. Not to mention, that wear and tear results in a less-vibrant, worse-fitting suit for you.
Experts say the damage is due to the fact that bathing suits typically have a lot of Spandex or other stretchy fabrics. These materials can get damaged both by frequent stretching and by chemicals and heat. Considering all the pool chlorine, hot tub dips, and washer spin cycles, it's easy to see how the damage can add up. This summer, get more bang for your fashion-buck by taking a few easy steps to make your swimsuit last longer.
Wash ASAP: The less time bacteria has to set-in, the better, says Real Simple. Even if you can only give your swimsuit a rinse with fresh water at first, that's better than nothing. About.com Laundry Guide Mary Marlowe Leverette points out suits need a rinse even after only sunbathing. Sunblock and the body's oils aren't great for your bathing suit either.
Hand-wash it: All the experts we found recommended hand washing. One pro told Allure magazine, the issue with washing machines is that they agitate all the delicate parts (like the cups, padding, ties, etc.). All this movement can damage a delicate suit, leaving things bunched, stretched, or otherwise ill-fitting.
Soap up: The retail website SwimsuitsForAll.com recommends washing a suit with a mild hand soap, while Allure suggests a detergent meant for delicates. Either way, a standard laundry detergent may be too harsh.
Dry off: Resist the urge to wring out every last drop of water. Doing so can damage the fibers, says SwimsuitsForAll.com, leaving your suit sagging in all the wrong places. Hanging a swimsuit (especially by the ties) can stretch it out, too. Instead, lay the suit out on a towel, roll the towel up and squeeze gently, then lay your swimsuit out to dry. Avoid drying it in sunshine, which can fade the color, says Leverette. Always dry the suit out completely before putting it away.
Rotate suits: According to Real Simple, Spandex is a "memory fabric," meaning it needs a full day to snap back to its usual position. If you're on vacation or wearing bathing suits often, it's essential to have more than one, so that each suit has 24 hours to bounce back (not to mention time to wash and dry it completely).
Keep cool: Hot water is bad for swimwear. Never wash your bathing suit in hot water, and avoid too many dips in the hot tub. Jacuzzi junkie? Allure recommends reserving one suit just for the hot tub--and make it your cheapest suit!
Prep a new suit: The swimsuit designer Vix Swimwear recommends prepping a brand new suit before taking it to the beach. A 30-minute soak in a vinegar and water mixture (1 tablespoon white vinegar per quart of water) should prevent dye from bleeding.
Sit on a towel: Whenever you're sitting on the ground next to the pool, on a wooden bench, or on any other rough surface, try to sit on a towel, suggests the blog Life With Three. Those impromptu seats can snag and tear the material. If carrying a towel 24/7 seems too high maintenance, simply wrap-up in a sarong when you leave your lounge chair--you'll never even have to think about where your sitting (though the sarong will take the brunt of the blow, so make sure you won't mind snags in it).