How to wash, dry, and maintain your swimsuit (not in the dryer)

To answer the most important question first:
Can you put your swimsuit or bikini into the dryer?

Quick answer: Most likely not!
Most manufacturers recommend to NOT put it in the dryer.

Read our recommendation for drying and how to speed up the drying process of your favorite swimwear without risking damage.

Understand the material

Carefully read the care instructions for your swimsuit first. The manufacturer knows their product and material best!

Generally speaking, most swimsuits are made out of synthetic material mixtures. Lycra (Spandex, elastane), polyester, and polyamide (Nylon) are used and those are especially sensitive to heat. Don’t be fooled by the type of processing, like a cute crochet bikini. Those often are synthetic, too. Of course, cotton exists but those are rare.

Wash before first use

You should always wash your new bathing suit before first use to remove any leftover chemicals of the colors or synthetic materials from the manufacturing process, just as with underwear.

Rinsing properly after every use and before storing

When you emerge from the pool or ocean, it’s advisable to shower every time.

The residues from chlorinated water, pool chemicals, salt water, sand, and sunscreen stains left on your swimsuit can harm the delicate fabrics. To prevent these substances from causing damage, such as discoloration and deterioration of the material, a thorough rinse is crucial. By doing so, you ensure that your cherished swimwear maintains its vibrant color and elasticity for seasons to come.

Important: Never leave a wet suit in your gym bag longer than absolutely necessary for transportation. Don’t ball it up. Leaving a wet swimsuit in a bag for too will most likely affect its form and can lead bacteria to grow. Those again can affect your health and the color and fibers of your suit, so you really want to avoid this.

When and how often to wash your swimsuit

Washing your swimsuit too frequently can lead to unnecessary wear and tear. Instead, gauge the need to wash based on usage. As a general guideline, wash your swimsuit after every third wear, or if it will be stored for a while after use. This approach conserves both water and the fabric’s integrity.

What detergents to use for swimwear

Use a mild laundry detergent for delicate fibers and colors. Avoid detergents that claim to whiten up, as these contain bleach or optical brighteners. Use a fluid detergent, as this dissolves better in cold water, especially when hand washing.

Do not use bleach, stain removal, or any chemicals to clean your swimsuit. This can damage the delicate synthetical fabric and colors.

Also, do not use fabric softeners. It can leave deposits behind, which might be particularly visible in darker colors, the spandex fibers might stick together.

Hand washing is best

The optimal method is hand washing. Especially if your swimwear has tiny applications, drawstrings, and sewn-on details this is the safest way.

Gently agitate your swimwear in a basin of cool to lukewarm water with a gentle detergent, designed for delicates and colors. This is the kindest approach to maintaining the swimsuit’s shape and color.

Immerse the swimsuit in the water and gently rub it without twisting.
Finally, get rid of the soap water and rinse the bathing suit repeatedly and thoroughly.

In the washing machine

Almost all manufacturers I researched recommend NOT to use machine washing!

The only situation I think might be ok is if your bikini is 100% cotton.

If you absolutely must resort to machine washing, ensure it’s on a low temperature and delicate cycle (30°C / 86 °F 1 dot ●)

Always use a mesh laundry bag to protect the swimsuit from getting stretched or snagged during the wash.

Turn your swimsuit inside out to minimize wear on the outside.

Drying your swimsuit in the dryer

Avoid the dryer! The heat can break down the synthetic fibers and cause the swimsuit to lose shape.
During my research I found ALL manufacturers do NOT recommend putting a swimsuit in the dryer.

As with machine washing, for 100% cotton it might be ok to use the dryer on lowest setting.
But as soon as it is 1% different material, I’d absolutely avoid it.

Drying outdoors

After washing, gently squeeze out excess water—avoid twisting or wringing, as this can damage the elastic fibers.

For outdoor drying, place your swimsuit on a flat surface in a shaded area. The heat and UV rays from direct sun can fade colors and degrade the fabric over time.

Don’t put it on a string. The additional weight of the water will pull on the shape of your suit. Clothespins will crush the sensitive material. Both is ruining the shame and material.

Drying indoors

Position your swimsuit on a drying rack or any flat, dry surface (like outdoors, do not hang it). A towel underneath can help absorb extra moisture.

Enhance drying by ensuring good air circulation; placing the rack near a well-ventilated area like an open window can facilitate this, just be cautious to avoid direct sunlight. In a pinch, a fan blowing room-temperature air across the swimsuit is a safe bet for speeding up the drying process without introducing heat, which can be detrimental to the fabric.

Drying towel method

The dry towel method can be an effective alternative to absorb moisture. Lay a towel out and place your swimsuit flat on it, then roll the towel up with the swimsuit inside to gently press out excess water. Roll it open again and lat your swimsuit dry laying flat.

Never iron your swimsuit!

As mentioned the materials are susceptible to heat and high temperatures. Ironing is one of the fastest ways to destroy your favorite swimsuit and make you cry. As before, an exception might be 100% cotton. Some crocheted bikini tops are 100% cotton but beware the bottom is almost always a different material. As soon as it is not 100%, DO NOT IRON IT.

Storing your swimsuit

Swimwear is best stored folded and lying flat on a shelf or hanging.
Make sure there is enough air ventilation.

Summary as DOs and DON’Ts


  • Carefully read the care instructions
  • Wash a new swimsuit before first use
  • Rinse thoroughly after every swim
  • Wash after every third wear
  • Use a mild, liquid detergent for delicates 
  • Hand washing is the gentlest method
  • Dry flat in the shade outdoors
  • Dry flat indoors on a drying rack
  • Store the swimsuit folded and flat or hanging


  • Do not use the clothes dryer!
  • Better not to wash in the washing machine
  • Do not use detergents with brighteners or bleach
  • Wash without fabric softener
  • Do not wring out the swimsuit
  • Do not hang the swimsuit on the line
  • Avoid direct sunlight when drying
  • Do not iron!
  • Do’t store in a bag to prevent mold growth


By following these care instructions, you not only extend the life of your swimwear but also save energy and maintain the garment’s look and feel.

Your swimsuit will thank you for the gentle, loving care with many more days of looking fabulous by the water!

White One-Piece swimsuit editorial

In this photo series photographer Dominic Pascal captured Kristina at the beach in Spain, near Alicante

Kristina is wearing a Polo Ralph Lauren “boyfriend” shirt and a white one-piece swimsuit

Photographer: Dominic Pascal
Model: Kristina