how to fix faded bathing suits

Bathing Suit Faded? Here’s How To Fix It (& Keep Your Bikini From Fading Again)

No matter how high-quality or expensive a bathing suit is. After a few uses, it starts looking dull and faded. 

Sometimes as a result of excessive dye leaking, other times due to fabric wear and tear – the fading of swimwear is something that no one sees coming until it’s already too hard to ignore. 

So in this article, we shall discuss how bathing suits fade, tips to fix it, and some quick hacks so that you never let it happen again. 

Why do bathing suits fade?

what causes bathing suits to fade

Many culprits can cause your swimsuit to look faded and shabby. For instance; 

  • Excessive washing: If you dump your swimsuit in the washer after every use, stop wondering why it comes out looking trashy. Using the washing machine – and that too regularly – can cause excessive fabric damage. Not just the color, it can also ruin the fit and shape of your swimwear. Besides, the risk of color bleeding is also maximum. 
  • Hard water: Pool water contains many chemicals and minerals like calcium and magnesium. They increase the pH level of the water, making it harmful for your skin and the swimwear. Most of all, it causes rapid color fading, whitening, and extreme fabric weakening.
  • Too much chlorine: Chlorine piling is another big reason why your swimsuit looks faded over time. This chemical has a bleach-like effect on the garment’s fabric. This means, if you don’t rinse it off immediately, it will leave erratic white patches on your swimsuit and make it appear noticeably discolored.   
  • Using the wrong detergent: Swimsuit laundering is a meticulous task because so much can possibly go wrong here. For instance, if you use a harsh detergent that contains ingredients like bleach, chlorine, optical brighteners, or phosphates, your swimsuit will wash out faster. It will not only look dull and faded but will also damage quicker. 
  • Sun exposure: Swimwear is made from nylon, polyester, spandex, and other fabrics. Although these textiles are very durable, one thing they just cannot stand is UV rays. So, if you tend to dry your wet swimsuit in direct sunlight, know that it will eventually become the reason why your garment looks faded and worn out. 

How to restore a faded swimsuit?

restored bathing suit bottom hanging on a line

If your swimsuit has already faded out, don’t bother about buying a new one just yet. Unless the discoloration is super extreme, there are always ways through which you can easily fix it at home. Here are 3 of the best ones;

Method 1: Slightly faded swimsuit? Soak it in a vinegar solution

Whether it’s oil stains, bleach patches, or general discoloration – vinegar is the one-stop solution for all swimwear problems. What’s even better is that it’s a common kitchen ingredient and causes no fabric damage. 

To restore your faded swimsuit, here’s the proper way to use it;

  • Fill up a bucket with cold water.
  • To this, add white vinegar and make a strong solution. The water-to-vinegar ratio should be 3:2.
  • If there are white patches or oil stains on the swimsuit, spray the solution directly and use a brush to scrub them gently.
  • Now, let your faded swimsuit sit in the solution for 30 minutes.
  • Once done, rinse it with cold water and let it air dry.

Pro tip: If you don’t have vinegar, you can also use baking soda, salt, or vitamin C as a substitute. 

Method 2: Use chemicals if the discoloration is tough to get rid off

Chemical treatment is another fantastic technique to bring back the bright hues of your swimsuit. As it’s much more potent than a basic vinegar or baking soda solution, you need to be extra careful with the handling and timing. But the end results are always worth all the effort.

Here’s how to go about it;

  • In a bucket, add cold water and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Use three parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide to make a solution.
  • Before dipping in your swimsuit, do a patch test to check if the solution is too strong.
  • If the patch test comes out clean (i.e., if there’s no discoloration in the area), soak your swimsuit for 15 minutes.
  • Once finished, rinse it with cold water and air dry.

Pro tip: Do not use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. To ensure maximum safety of the garment, use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. 

Method 3: When nothing works, dye your swimsuit

Your last resort lies in dyeing the swimwear. Now, there are various kinds of dyes available in the market. Depending on the fabric of your faded swimsuit, pick your ideal dye – acid dye for nylon, polyester dye for polyester and PBT, etc. Or, you can simply use an all-purpose dye and color your swimwear anew.

Here’s how;

  • Fill up your sink with lukewarm water.
  • Add two to three cups of fabric dye to it. If you feel it’s not enough, add more.
  • Soak the swimsuit completely in the dye and let it sit there for 30-35 minutes.
  • Once done, rinse it with cold water until all the excess dye is out.
  • Finally, let it air dry.

Note: This is a general guide for dyeing a faded swimsuit. Always follow the instructions mentioned on the label of the dye.

Tips on keeping your bikini from fading again

You can restore the color of a faded swimsuit through either of the three methods listed above. But a little carelessness is all it will take to end you up at square one again. 

woman in a bathing suit with a towel matching the color_

To avoid that, follow these tips;

Watch how you use the swimsuit

Instead of putting all that labor into restoring your swimsuit, make it a point to wet it before hitting the pool and rinse it right afterward.

This reduces the chances of fading, chlorine damage, and discoloration and keeps the garment as good as new. 

Further, pretreating the swimsuit with baking soda, vinegar, or vitamin C is always a good idea. To do so, just soak the swimsuit in the solution for 10 minutes before use.

It safeguards the garment from bleaching out – not just while you’re inside the water (from chlorine and hard water) but outside it (from UV rays) as well.

Avoid heat and direct sunlight

UV rays can cause serious swimsuit discoloration.

But it’s also true that you can’t avoid sunlight at the beach. So, shop for swimwear made from UV-resistant fabrics, like spandex, polyester, or UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) fabrics. 

Off the beach, the worst foe of your swimsuit’s bright hues is the dryer.

So, for drying your swimsuit, opt for air drying over thrusting it in the dryer or putting it outside in direct sunlight. 

Skip swimming pools

Pools are often infused with high concentrations of chlorine to keep the water distilled and sanitized.

This means, even a ten-minute swim is enough for the chemical to profusely wash out your swimsuit. 

So, it’s best to skip using swimming pools and public water parks as much as possible. Or even if you do so, don’t forget to rinse off your garment immediately after swimming. 

Check the detergent

Harsh chemicals don’t only come from swimming pools. Your laundry detergent is also packed with strong synthetic chemicals like enzymes, bleach, and phosphates that immensely harm your swimsuit’s color and fabric. 

So, when washing your swimwear, use a mild shampoo instead. If you have no choice but to use detergent, use only half a teaspoon and do not keep the garment soaked for more than 10 minutes.

Store correctly

Before you pack the swimwear back into the wardrobe, ensure two things – firstly, it’s not wrinkled, and secondly, the area is free from moisture.

Wrinkles cause prominent white lines on the garment that give the semblance of fabric discoloration.

On the other hand, storing the swimsuit in a moist environment fosters the growth of molds and mildew on it. They can also cause extreme color fading along with fabric damage.

How do I keep my bathing suits looking new?

Bathing suits are notorious for being easily perishable. But here’s the thing – if you intently look after them, they are bound to last you for years and years.

For instance, here are a few best practices you should follow;

Do not machine wash

If the situation isn’t dire, do not use the washing machine. Occasionally giving a toss is fine, but never make it a daily ritual. Hand wash your swimsuits as much as possible.

It minimizes the damage and ensures your suit looks great even after several years. 

Be gentle

washing bathing suits to restore its color

Being gentle with your swimsuit will take you (and your swimwear) a long way.

No harsh scrubbing while washing, no wringing, and absolutely no squeezing a wet swimsuit.

Also, be attentive to what gets on it. Avoid contact with sunscreen and body oils, and if it occurs, rinse it off with water instantly.

Dry it correctly

Too much heat is as bad for your swimsuit as too little of it.

That’s because if your bathing suit doesn’t dry properly, it will become home to gross bacteria, molds, and mildew.

So, completely air dry your swimsuit. And while you’re at it, make sure not to make the mistake of hanging it. It will stretch the fabric and destroy the fit.

See before you sit

Swimsuits require incredibly gentle handling. If you are not mindful of it, your suit will get destroyed without you realizing it.

So when at the beach, pay attention before sitting. Sometimes, those harmless-looking wooden beach loungers have sharp edges that end up snagging the swimsuit. To avoid that, always carry a mat to sit on.

Keep it well-maintained

It’s easy to put the swimsuit in the closet and forget about it when it’s not the beach season.

But that’s where the trick lies. Even if you’re not actively using the swimsuit, it’s advisable to take it out of the closet and rinse it with the vinegar solution once every month.

It keeps the fabric fresh and tight and increases the lifespan of your swimwear.

Luna Wilde covers the latest swimwear collections, designer collabs, tutorials and industry innovations. She brings over 5 years of digital journalism experience to crafting clever, conversational content about all swimwear-involved things.

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