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How to wash your swimsuit, according to Mumsnet users

Cleaning a swimsuit requires a bit of care to keep it in good shape and looking its best. Here’s a guide to washing your swimming costume.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Sep 12, 2023


Whether you’re a keen swimmer or only go in the pool on holiday, every time you go for a dip your best swimsuit is exposed to things like chlorine, salt water, sun and sunscreen that can cause it to lose its shape and colour. That’s why it’s good to know how to best wash your swimsuit so you can keep wearing it again and again. 

Synthetic fabrics are prone to piling and retaining odours and washing it the wrong way can add to the wear and tear of your costume. A good swimming costume can be pricey so to make sure you get plenty of wear out of it, we’ve researched how best to clean your swimsuit so it maintains its elasticity and colour.

Using a combination of tips from our Mumsnet users and expert recommendations, here’s our guide to how to wash your swimsuit.

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How often should I clean my swimsuits?

Just like any other piece of clothing, swimsuits should be washed after every use. As they’re exposed to sweat, body oils and chemicals which can affect the quality of your swimsuit, you should remove these as soon as possible after wearing them. White suits in particular can turn yellow when they come into contact with chlorine so the earlier you rinse it out, the better.

You don’t need to give them a deep clean every single time though. As long as you give them a good rinse through, experts say you only need to be washed with detergent after every three to five uses.

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How to clean a swimsuit

Rinse after each use

Are you rinsing out salt or chlorinated water very thoroughly? They degrade the fabric.” eurochick

After you’ve been swimming or at the end of your pool day on holiday, rinse your swimsuit with cool water as soon as you can. If you have time, you could leave it to soak for 30 minutes. This helps remove saltwater, chlorine, sand, and sunscreen residues that can damage the fabric over time.

Related: Discover which brands came out on top for the best plus-size swimwear according to Mumsnetters.

Hand wash

Swimming costumes should never go in a washing machine. And I wash mine with either pure liquid soapflakes (Wilkinson/Waitrose) or a blob of shampoo, never laundry detergent. Also they have to be thoroughly rinsed as soon as you get home, and washed in soap the same day. The rinsing at the pool is often still in chlorinated water so it doesn't count.” tulips27

To keep your swimsuit looking its best, handwashing is best as it gives your costume a gentle clean which helps keep its shape and colour. Fill your sink with cool water and add a small amount of mild detergent, then swirl the water to create suds.

Turn the swimsuit inside out 

If you have any stains you need to scrub at, turn your swimsuit inside out. This allows you to tackle the marks and clean off the sweat and sunscreen while helping keep the quality of the exterior of the fabric.

Gently agitate

Fully submerge your swimsuit in the soapy water and gently agitate it with your hands. Unless there is a stain, avoid excessive rubbing or wringing as this can damage the fabric and stretch out the elastic.


Empty the sink and refill it with cool water. Rinse the swimsuit thoroughly to remove all traces of detergent. Repeat this step if necessary.

Squeeze out water

Once the swimsuit has been completely rinsed of detergent, gently press down on the swimsuit to squeeze out excess water. Do not twist or wring the fabric as this can cause it to lose its shape.


Rinse it through with warm water at the end of the day in the shower and hang it out to dry.” unicornsarereal1

Are you drying it on something warm like a radiator? I hang mine on the door handles and one time the chest area had touched the radiator behind it and the elastic had broken down in that area.” Awalkintime

Lay a clean, dry towel on a flat surface and place the swimsuit on top. Roll up the towel and press down gently to absorb any additional moisture from the swimsuit. 

Then, lay it flat on a dry towel or hang it in a shaded, well-ventilated area to dry. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause fading. Don’t be tempted to throw it in the dryer as the heat can damage the fabric and elastic. 


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What to avoid

Sticking to the same swimsuit: If you swim frequently, it's a good idea to have multiple swimsuits to rotate. This gives each suit time to recover its shape and elasticity between wears.

Machine washing: While it may be quicker and easier than hand washing, the agitation and heat in a washing machine can damage the delicate fabric and elastic. If you absolutely must, make sure to wash on a delicate, cold wash.

Bleach: Harsh chemicals like bleach can degrade the fabric and cause discoloration.

Wrinkling: Avoid wringing, twisting, or bunching up the swimsuit, as this can deform the shape of your swimsuit.

Mumsnetters' favourite swimsuit brands:

Deakin & Blue

“Deakin & Blue. They do 3 size ranges to suit all body types. Cracking suits!claracluck1978

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The Speedo ones have various fancy chlorine resistant fabrics and I've not had a problem with them.” ItsAllGoingToBeFine


Zoggs have a chlorine resistant swimsuit that used to survive longer for me - I used to swim 5 times a week in the summer - but I don’t think they do underwired.” MaizeAmaze

Read next: Find the best bralettes and the top-ranking wireless bras

John Lewis

I'm 5'6'' and a size 10 but I tend to buy a 12 in one pieces to get the length and it usually works well. Last year, I went into John Lewis and tried on lots, even ones I didn't think I would like, and I ended up with three. I bought an Anyday one which is surprisingly good. 

Read next: Don't miss our guides to the comfiest loungewear for women and the best beach coverups 2023.


"Cupshe are decent quality.” Wallabyone

Read next: Find the best anti-chafing shorts with our essential guide.

Marks & Spencer

I have an M&S one with tummy control for the pool, and a bikini for holidays (also tummy control).” gogohm


Boden. I only ever buy sale pieces and order lots to try because swimwear seems to vary so much. Good quality.” Berolloreb

How we choose our recommendations 

Recommendations from real parents

With over seven million users on our forums, we always know this is a great place to start our research for the best advice and products to buy right now. This means that any swimsuits recommended will have been worn and washed at home and will cater for different sizes, shapes and budgets. 


We also consider experts and consumers reviews, on websites like Amazon, M&S and John Lewis, when compiling our list of tips and product recommendations. This helps us work out what features are important, such as the sizing, material and fit. We always take into account both negative and positive feedback to make sure we’re recommending the best products.

Celebrated best products 

Finally, we look at products that have received awards. This, combined with real parent recommendations, reviews and expert advice, helped us recommend a variety of the best swimsuits for combining quality and comfort.

Why you should trust us 

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.

About the author

Gemma Wilcock is a freelance writer and copywriter. At Mumsnet, she creates content providing useful parenting advice, information and top products to make life easier – as a mother of two children herself, Gemma knows how important it is to get the right advice.

After working on women’s weekly magazines for nine years, Gemma turned to freelance writing to fit around family life, writing for a range of online and print publications, charities and small businesses. She loves writing about subjects that will be helpful to the reader – and herself! - including recommending top products on Mumsnet that help parents in their day-to-day life. Whether it’s a purchase for herself or her family, she knows how important online reviews are when it comes to buying online, so she always makes sure to thoroughly research every product so we recommend the best ones on the market.