by C.M. Mackenzie
Three things cause a bathing suit to fade faster than anything else: chlorine, strong detergents, and sunlight. Any of these alone will cause fading, but when all three are combined, your swimsuit has little chance of retaining its brilliant color. Both chlorine and sunlight can bleach fabrics, and strong detergents can break down color in fabrics, resulting in color loss over time. By following these steps, you can keep a bathing suit from fading, which in turn helps it last season after season.
Pretreat your bathing suit. Before wearing a new swimsuit for the first time, treat it in a mixture of water and vinegar to seal in the colors. Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with a quart of cool water and let your swimsuit soak in it for 20 to 30 minutes. The cold water will help the vinegar penetrate the fabric, sealing in the color.
Shower before swimming. Fabrics absorb and retain the most water when they first get wet. While wearing your swimsuit, shower before getting in the pool or ocean and make sure your swimsuit is thoroughly wet. This will ensure that the fabric absorbs fresh water and prevents it from soaking up too much chlorine.
Rinse the bathing suit in cold water. Whether you were on the beach or at a swimming pool, immediately rinse your suit to remove as much chlorine or salt spray as possible. Rinse it thoroughly in the pool or beach dressing room and lay it flat on a towel, if possible, for the ride home. Packing it up wet can trap moisture and cause harmful mildew to grow in the fabric.
Gently wash the suit by hand. Wash your suit immediately when you get home. Fill a sink basin with clean, cold water. Warm or hot water opens up the fibers of the fabric, causing it to fade faster. Submerge your swimsuit and add a mild, color-safe detergent. You won't need much to get your swimsuit clean, just a teaspoon of detergent per gallon of water. Gently plunge the swimsuit into the water and rub the fabric together.
Thoroughly rinse the swimsuit. After draining the water from the sink, rinse your bathing suit under the faucet with cold water. Rinse until the water runs clear and no detergent residue remains. If you have a two-piece swimsuit, rinse each piece separately to ensure thorough rinsing. Even mild detergents can damage fabric if not thoroughly rinsed.
Let your suit drip-dry. Hang your suit to dry or lay it flat on a towel. Do not put your swimsuit in the dryer. Open a window or turn on a fan to speed up drying. If your bathing suit has molded bra cups that absorb a lot of water, gently squeeze out excess moisture before you hang the suit to dry.