How to Properly Care for Printed Swimsuits?

Since the prints and dyes used to create these designs tend to be more delicate than solid suit fabrics, printed suits require some special care and washing considerations. Follow this guide to learn tips for keeping printed swimwear looking vibrant for multiple wears and seasons.

Wash After Each Wear

Unlike basic black or solid-colored suits that you may be able to wear a couple times between washes, it’s best practice to launder printed swimsuits after every wear. The dyes used for prints tend to bleed more easily, meaning the color could run if exposed to body oils, lotions, chlorine or saltwater. Washing after one wear prevents potential color transfer issues.

Check Labels for Washing Instructions

Care SymbolMeaning
HandwashWash by hand, do not machine wash
Water temp 30°CUse cold water, do not exceed 30°C wash temperature
No bleachDo not use bleach when washing
Dry flatLay flat to air dry, do not machine dry

Printed swimsuits may have specific care label instructions related to water temperature, washing cycles and drying methods. Be sure to read and follow all instructions on your suit’s care tag each time you launder it. Many printed suits should be washed in cold water to prevent running or fading.

Wash Separately

To prevent the print or color from bleeding onto other clothing items, always wash printed swimwear separately from other garments. Wash with similar colors and prints when possible. For example, wash printed bikinis together rather than with your white tee shirts or solid bathing suits.

Use a Laundry Bag

Placing printed swimsuits in a laundry bag or mesh lingerie bag provides an extra barrier of protection for the spandex fibers and printed designs. The bag helps minimize friction that could cause pills or snags. Opt for a bag made specifically for delicates and swimwear.

Avoid Chlorine Bleach

Never use chlorine bleach when washing printed swimwear, as bleach can strip color vibrancy or damage elastic fibers over time. Opt for an oxygen-based bleach if disinfecting suits after a bout of swimmer’s ear or other transmittable condition. Otherwise, bleach-free detergent is best.

Limit Drying Time

Just as with washing, always check and follow the drying instructions on your printed swimsuit’s care label. Most labels suggest hang drying printed suits or lying flat to dry to prevent damage and fading. If machine drying, use the lowest heat setting and remove promptly when finished to prevent over-drying.

Dry in Shade

If hang drying printed swimsuits outdoors, choose a shaded spot protected from direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays will cause fading over time. Drying in shade preserves vibrancy of colors and prints.

Use Vinegar in Wash

For extra insurance against bleeding dyes, add 1⁄2 cup white vinegar to your swimsuit laundry cycle. The vinegar helps set the fabric dyes so colors stay true. Distilled white vinegar is safe for elastic fibers and spandex swimwear when used properly.

Hand-Wash When Needed

Though machine-washing printed suits is typically fine when following label guidelines, you may opt to hand-wash suits you wish to preserve for many seasons. Use cool water and a gentle laundry detergent made for delicates. Allow to soak briefly to fully dissolve body oils and lotions that may cause color transfer issues.

Spot Clean as Needed

For minor stains or debris between full launderings, spot clean printed swimsuits as needed. Simply use a soft toothbrush and cold water to gently scrub marks away. Do not rub vigorously, as this can damage spandex fibers. Be sure to fully rinse detergents after spot treating.

Store Properly

After washing printed swimsuits, allow to fully dry on a flat surface or hung freely. Then store folded or on hangers in a cool, dry place away from direct light. Keeping suits properly stored between wears helps prevent print fading and elastic damage over time.

When to Retire Suits

With proper care for washing, drying and storage, most printed swimsuits should maintain vibrancy for multiple seasons of wear. However, with frequent use, chlorine exposure and sunlight fading, suits will eventually show signs of wear. Elastic side straps may lose shape or prints may appear cracked or faded. Retire suits displaying these visible signs of aging to prevent malfunctions.

Consider Color Refreshing Spray

If a once-vibrant printed swimsuit seems to be losing its pop after a season or two, try using a color refresh fabric spray. These sprays deposit fresh dye onto the spandex fibers to revive hues. Test first in an inconspicuous area and follow product instructions closely to avoid potential damage from over-spraying.

Buy Multiple Suits

Investing in several printed swimsuits and rotating them during summer months can help extend the wearable lifespan of each suit. Less frequent use of any single suit puts less strain on the fibers and prints. Having multiples allows proper washing and drying time between wears too.

Inspect Printed Areas Frequently

Make it a habit to visually inspect the printed areas on your swimsuits before and after each wear. Check for signs of cracking, fading, pilling or bleeding. Catching issues early allows you to adjust care methods or retire suits before prints become severely damaged or design details are lost.

Apply Fabric Sealant Spray

As a preventative measure, treat printed areas on swimsuits with a fabric sealant spray when new. Water-resistant sealants provide a protective barrier that minimizes damage from water, oils, chlorine and sunlight over the course of several wears and washes. Reapply sealant 2-3 times per season.

Skip the Dryer Sheets

When machine drying printed swimsuits, avoid using dryer sheets or fabric softener cloths in the cycle. Even fragrance-free products can leave behind a film residue that prevents moisture wicking fabric properties from working properly. This causes suits to retain more water.

Don’t Wring Suits When Wet

It can be tempting to wring water from a dripping wet swimsuit when exiting the pool. However, forcefully twisting and wringing applies harsh pressure on spandex fibers and printed designs. Simply press gently between towels instead to remove excess moisture before hang drying.

Rinse Promptly After Saltwater Swims

Following swims in oceans or saltwater pools, be sure to rinse your printed swimsuits thoroughly with fresh water immediately. Lingering salt crystals can damage fabric and cause fading over time through a process called hydrolysis. Quick rinsing prevents salt buildup.

Use Print-Protecting Detergents

Invest in a laundry detergent specially formulated to protect the prints and dyes used on fabric garments like swimsuits. These detergents contain agents that help set and stabilize dyes to prevent running and bleeding during wash cycles.

Keep Body Lotions Away From Prints

Oils and emollients in body moisturizers can cling to printed suit areas and actually pull dye colors away from fabrics, causing potential stains, color transfer or print damage. Apply creams conservatively and rub thoroughly into skin before donning printed swimwear.

Table Comparing Print Care Methods

Hand WashThorough clean for delicate printsUse cool water, delicate detergent and gently wash
Spot CleanTarget stains between full washesBrush stains with toothbrush and cold water
Vinegar SoakSets dyes to prevent color bleedAdd 1⁄2 cup vinegar to wash cycle
Color Refresh SprayRevives faded colorsLightly spray prints according to product instructions
Fabric SealantCreates protective barrier against damageApply 2-3 coats to printed areas per season

Protect Prints When Applying Sunscreen

When applying sunscreen lotions before wearing a printed swimsuit, take care to rub the cream thoroughly into skin and avoid directly contacting the printed suit areas until fully absorbed. The oils can pull dye away leaving discoloration behind.

Use Saltwater-Safe Detergents

If swimming regularly in saltwater pools or oceans, use a laundry detergent formulated for saltwater and chlorine removal when washing printed suits. These detergents contain extra agents to prevent mineral buildup and break down residues.

Keep Prints Out of Water After Application

It takes at least 24-48 hours for fabric dye applied via spray-on color refresh products or fabric paint pens to fully bond and seal on swimsuit fabrics. Avoid wearing suits in water during this window to allow proper curing time.

Consider LINING Suits for Extra Print Protection

Having a swimsuit professionally lined with a coordinating fabric provides an extra layer of protection underneath prints against damage from oils, lotions and chlorine over time. This helps extend the wearability of printed swimwear.

StoreSuits Individually

Rather than packing multiple printed suits together in a bag or drawer during off-season storage, keep suits folded or hung separately if possible. Direct contact transfers fragrances and fibers that could potentially rub prints and cause pilling over time.

Do’s and Don’ts When Wearing Printed Suits


  • Rinse suits with fresh water after saltwater swims
  • Wash suits inside out
  • Check prints frequently for signs of damage
  • Follow all care label washing instructions


  • Bleach printed swimwear
  • Wring suits forcefully when wet
  • Dry printed areas directly in sunlight
  • Use dryer sheets during machine drying

Take Suits in for Professional Cleaning

In addition to properly caring for printed swimsuits at home, consider taking them in for professional wet or dry cleaning every few seasons. The pressurized cleaning systems used by specialty cleaners provide an extremely thorough wash and extract all oils, lotions, chlorine and salt residue that can degrade spandex and prints over successive wears.


With so many factors that can potentially damage the special dyes and prints used on swimwear, it’s important to take some extra care when laundering, wearing and storing printed suits. But a little bit of diligence goes a long way towards keeping your favorite printed bikinis and one-pieces looking like new over multiple seasons of fun in the sun!

When Katie was 10 years old, she won her first writing prize in an essay contest. That experience sparked her love and interest in writing. Throughout her life, she’s had various opportunities to expand her skill set. She wrote extensively about her experiences traveling the world and doing charity work. Currently, she is busy writing and taking care of her two step-sons and newborn daughter. She loves being a mother and makes time every day to fulfill her passion for writing & fashion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.