how to keep your swimsuit from chlorine damage

Keeping Your Swimsuit Safe From Chlorine: Beginner’s Guide

If you swim frequently, you’ll notice your swimwear decaying much more rapidly than otherwise.

Even if you diligently follow the care label, refrain from throwing it in the washer, or don’t wash it at all -it will still end up looking a bit more dull and damaged after every dip. 

Well, that’s because of all the chlorine present in beaches and pool water. It damages not only your skin but your swimwear’s skin, aka fabric, too. 

So in this blog, let’s learn how you can shield your swimwear against chlorine and make it last longer. 

What chlorine will do to your bathing suits?

Chlorine is a strong chemical that occurs naturally in seawater and is used in pools as a disinfectant. Yet, its prolonged exposure can be extremely harmful to your skin, hair, and of course, swimwear. 

It Fades the color

The presence of chlorine in pool water causes swimwear to lose color and appear faded. In fact, just two weeks of regular chlorine contact can make your bright-colored swimsuit look significantly washed out.

It stretches the fabric

Chlorine also causes the swimwear fabric to stretch out and loosen. Especially if the swimwear is made from spandex, it will quickly lose its elasticity and become excessively baggy.

It causes yellowing

When the chlorine in the swimming pool comes in contact with your natural body oils, it turns the swimsuit yellow. That explains why, over time, your white-colored swimsuits become worn out and yellowish.

It damages the swimwear

Chlorine weakens the fibers of the swimwear. It ruins its fit, shape, and color. Moreover, if the water contains this chemical in high concentrations, its regular use can also cause holes in the garment. (Sage Journals)

It instills a poor smell

Chlorine has a very pungent smell that easily latches onto the swimsuit fabric upon frequent contact. Besides being strongly unpleasant, this stench is also tough to get rid of.

Chlorine-resistant swimsuits: do they work?

do chlorine swimsuit really work
Adrift II, by Abi Whitlock

These days, many swimwear brands host a separate curation of “chlorine-resistant” swimsuits.

If you’re unaware, a chlorine-resistant swimsuit is a swimwear designed to withstand the ill effects of chlorine without hampering your comfort and style.

Apart from that, everything about such swimsuits – right from the design to the prints – is similar to a regular one. 

But the question is, do they work? Yes, totally!

Chlorine-resistant swimsuits last longer than regular ones. They do not lose color, shape, and fit even if exposed to chlorine on a regular basis. Moreover, such swimsuits are also more averse to regular wear and tear. 

So yes, they are definitely worth investing in, especially if you’re a regular swimmer. 

What makes a swimsuit chlorine-resistant?

Let’s save you the surprise – it’s the fabric!

In any piece of clothing, the material makes all the difference in the quality. 

Chlorine-resistant swimsuits are nothing unlike.

Generally, swimwear is made from different kinds of fabrics. Some of the most popular ones are nylon, spandex or lycra, polyester, cotton, PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate), microfiber, and mesh. 

However, most of these fabric materials aren’t resistant to the negative effects of chlorine. That is why they tear off and wear down so easily upon regular chlorine contact. 

So, if you’re aiming to buy a swimsuit that can withstand the cons of chlorine, pick the one made from polyester. It’s a sturdy fabric known for performing well in chlorinated water. 

Apart from this, polyester blend fabrics like PBT and polyester-lycra are also extremely efficient in resisting chlorine damage on swimwear.

Chlorine-resistant swimsuits vs. Regular swimsuits

Swimsuits resistant to chlorine are built very differently from the regular ones. For instance, here are a few notable differences between the two;

  • Fabric: A good-quality chlorine-resistant swimsuit is made from 100% polyester. On the other hand, regular swimsuits are made from a range of fabrics, including spandex and nylon, that are very prone to chlorine damage.
  • Quality: Chlorine-resistant swimsuits are superior in quality to the traditional ones. Unlike basic swimsuits, they offer better color retention, shape retention, and elasticity.
  • Durability: Polyester is much more durable and long-lasting than fabrics like nylon or spandex. This is why chlorine-resistant swimwear last 2x longer than normal swimwear.
  • Cost: Chlorine-resistant swimsuits are more expensive than the regular ones. On average, their range starts from $60 and goes up to $100, whereas regular swimsuits retail between $30-$60. 

How to get chlorine out of your swimsuits?

If your swimsuit is laden with chlorine, this 3-step method is the most harmless (and easiest) way to get it off;

Step 1: Soak it in cold water

It’s very important to be gentle while cleaning a chlorine-infused swimsuit. 

So don’t take it off and throw it into the washing machine directly. While it’s still wet, get inside the shower for a quick rinse or soak it in a bucket of cold water for 10 minutes.

This will prepare the garment for the quick, damage-free deep washing session.

Step 2: Wash it with shampoo and vinegar solution

Only shampoo and water will never be enough to remove chlorine from the swimsuit. So, in a bucket, add cold water, two tablespoons of shampoo (or your preferred swimwear cleansing agent), along with two tablespoons of vinegar. 

If your swimsuit heavily reeks of chlorine or has stains, also mix two tablespoons of baking soda into the bucket and let it sit for 30 minutes. 

After that, rinse it with clean, cold water.

Read also: How To Properly Hand Wash Your Bathing Suits >

Step 3: Let it air dry 

Now that your swimsuit is dripping wet, lightly squeeze it and lay it flat on a towel. 

Cover it up with another towel and gently press it to remove excess water. When you feel all the surplus water is soaked up, remove the towel from the top and let your swimsuit air dry.

Getting rid of the chlorine smell

The harmful effects of chlorine on swimwear are not limited to physical damage. This chemical also leaves behind a sharp, astringent smell on the garment that’s unbearable. But if the stench is fresh, you can easily eliminate it. Here’s how;

  • After the swim, take off your swimsuit and soak it in a bucket filled with cold water for 10 minutes. This helps in loosening the chlorine particles. 
  • Next, fill another bucket with cold water and add two-three tablespoons of vinegar into it. You can also substitute the vinegar with lemon juice, baking soda, or vitamin C. 
  • Then, lightly squeeze out the excess water from your swimsuit and soak it in the vinegar solution. 
  • After 30 minutes, squeeze the swimsuit with your hands and lay it flat on a towel. Then, cover it up with another towel and roll it to let it dry. 
  • If the smell doesn’t go away, repeat the same process every once a week until it finally wears off. 

Here’s a quick video tutorial for you:

Tip: Is the chlorine smell too stubborn? Add two tablespoons of baking soda to the vinegar solution and let your swimsuit sit in it for 30-45 minutes. 

3 tips on protecting your bathing suit from chlorine damage

All bathing suits are susceptible to chlorine damage to some extent. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. So, if you’ve just got a new bathing suit and you don’t want it to get destroyed by chlorine, here are three simple tips you must follow;

Tip #1. Wet it before a swim

Before you head out for a splash, it’s ideal to wet your swimsuit with cold water. This way, it will absorb less chlorine from the pool and get minimally damaged. So, before swimming, take a cold shower, and dampen your swimsuit for extra safety.

Tip #2. Rinse it after a swim

Chlorine gets piled up on fabric very easily. And the more it does, the denser the damage. So after every swim, make it a point to immediately take a shower or soak your swimsuit in cold water. If you want to do neither, simply wash it in the gentle cycle of your washer. Just don’t leave it without a cold water rinse.

Tip #3. Pretreat it with Vitamin C

Pretreating a swimsuit with vitamin C not only keeps the garment fresh and clean after a swim. It also locks in the color and restrains bleaching from chlorine. So, dilute two tablespoons of vitamin C in cold water and soak your swimsuit in it for 15 minutes before swimming to protect it against chlorine damage.

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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