Newsflash: stop washing your swimwear in the washing machine

With summer holiday season at its peak, how do you keep your bikini fresh without ruining it?

Gold Foil Bikini from Etsy
(Image credit: Etsy/PopsicleBeachwear)

We've had the bra washing controversy and the denim washing controversy, and now that it's peak summer holiday season, it's swimwear's turn. Do you wash it? Or just rinse it? If you do wash it, then how, and what do you use to get it clean?

The truth is, you shouldn't launder your bathing suit in the conventional sense, that is – don't put it in the washing machine, ever. Swimwear is made from fabrics that have very different properties from cotton and other natural fabrics we wear regularly. Polyamide (or nylon, as it's also known), spandex and lycra are soft and stretchy fabrics that restore their shape when not worn – up to a point. If they are stretched too much and too often, eventually the swimsuit or bikini will start losing its shape permanently. For that reason, even a delicate machine wash cycle is likely to be too harsh.

The best way to wash your swimwear is by hand, in lukewarm water, using only natural hand soap (without any moisturisers). Gently massage your bathing suit, don't rub. And – never wring your swimwear. Instead, gently squeeze out excess water, then wrap it in a towel and gently press. Then, dry flat in the shade.  

There's another reason why washing your swimwear in the washing machine is a bad idea. During every cycle, tiny amounts of fibre will be shed: these fibres are microplastics, and will enter waterways and eventually oceans. If you must wash your swimwear in the washing machine, the best thing you can do is buy a Guppy friend Washing Bag, which is made from a very fine mesh that prevents the microplastics from polluting waterways. 

For more tips on washing your clothes, read our guide on how to do laundry.

Lead image: Gold Foil Bikini from Etsy.