Summer is definitely time for a laid-back attitude: Responsibilities lighten, schedules open up, and the daylight drags on for hours. It’s positively delicious to be able to finally just chill out, but it can be all too tempting to use summertime as an excuse to not do things that, let’s be honest, really need to be done. Prime example? Not washing your bathing suit. Look, I get it: You’re on vacation, you wore it today, you’re going to wear it again tomorrow. It’s easy to believe there’s just no point. But what happens if you don’t wash your bathing suit? Let’s find out.
According to Real Simple, there are lots of reasons not to leave your swimuit unwashed after use, even if you didn’t put so much as a toe in the water. The ingredients in sunscreens can damage the swimsuit fabric and break down the material, the magazine pointed out, and some can cause it to yellow or become stained over time.
Swimming in a pool is even more reason to suds up your suit, because chlorine is worse for swimwear fabrics than lake or ocean waters and can fade colors particularly quickly. With the price of swimsuits seemingly rising every year, it’s painful to have to toss one that should’ve lasted twice as long.
This rule applies to your kids’ suits, too — even the boys’. Dr. Daniel Ganjian, a pediatrician based out of Santa Monica, tells Romper that in addition to the potential damage to a bathing suit from chlorine or sunblock, there is a possibility for mold to develop as well. Let that sink in. Mold in your or your child’s crotch. That’s a hard pass, thanks.
But how you wash your suit matters almost as much as whether you wash it. Washing your swimsuit by hand is widely touted to be the best method, since automated washing machines have been known to wreck havoc on delicate or spandex fabrics. The exception to this is men’s and boy’s swim trunks, which can be machine-washed since they contain less spandex than women’s styles.
Glamour reported that the best way to hand wash your swimsuit is to first rinse it to get the body oils off, then soak it with a neutral, mainstream detergent like a simple Ivory soap. Rub the fabric gently to suds it up, then be careful to rinse out all the soap and lay the suit flat to dry.
If you can’t hand wash it, put the suit inside a mesh laundry bag (the kind you use for your bras and fancy lingerie) before tossing it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. The bag will keep the fabric from stretching out or getting twisted and tangled up, possibly ruining the fit.
So now that it’s washed, what about drying? According to Glamour, you should never put your swimsuit in the dryer — the heat and spin is much too harsh on the delicate material. It’s best to lay your suit flat on a towel to dry, but never put it in the sun, or else the bright, fun colors will fade significantly. A shady spot will take a bit longer, yes, but will preserve the integrity of the bathing suit much better.
Even the dog days of summer come with some responsibility, and practicing common sense hygiene seems like a good place to start. If you find yourself tempted to let the rules slide, stop and think again about that moldy crotch thing. My guess is it’ll have you heading to the sink pretty quickly. (Even if hand washing something makes you feel like Ma Ingalls.)