How to Protect the Color in a Swimsuit

Don't let your swimsuit fade into the sunset.
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A new, brightly colored swimsuit can make you feel like the belle of the beach, but all that sun worshipping and frolicking in the sand can really take a toll on the fabric. Pool lovers risk swimsuit damage as well, since chlorine will prematurely fade most colors. Don’t let your beach towel outshine the shade of your suit. Take a few minutes to protect and clean the fabric so your swimsuit sparkles as brightly as the water.

Treat new swimsuits in vinegar before wearing them to set the dye in the fabric. Fill a sink with 4 inches of cold water and add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Insert the swimsuit into the water and submerge it completely. Wait 30 minutes and then rinse the suit in clean, cold water.

Rinse the swimsuit immediately after getting out of the pool or ocean. If possible, remove the suit and rinse thoroughly with fresh, cold water to remove the salt or chlorine residue. If you leave the suit on, stand under an outdoor shower to remove as much of the residue as possible.

Hand wash the swimsuit as soon as possible after wearing it. Fill a sink with cold water and add one capful of a detergent designed for delicate fabrics. Insert the suit into the water and agitate it gently with your hands for two to three minutes. Rinse in cold water to remove all soap residue. Do not use standard laundry detergent since these are too harsh and may further fade the fabric.

Open a white or light-colored towel on a flat surface and lay the suit on top of it to air dry. Do not lay or hang the suit in the sun to dry, since this will cause fading.

  • Do not bleach swimsuits, even with color-safe bleach.
  • Do not put swimsuits in the dryer.
  • Sunscreen and tanning oils can also fade or discolor swimsuit fabrics. Always wash your suit, even if you did not enter the water while wearing it.
  • When shopping for new swimsuits, look for fabrics that are fade resistant. These have a built in UV barriers that helps them stand up better to sun exposure.
  • Take a second suit with you to the beach or pool and change as soon as you get out of the water. Rinse or wash the original suit as soon as you come out of the water so the chlorine or salt has less time to damage the fabric.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.