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Home > Bikinis in the news > Caring for Swimwear and Summerwear

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Caring for Swimwear and Summerwear
Summer is nearly here and we will be spending more time wearing swimsuits and some of the newer performance fabrics. To get the most out of these items it really pays to know how to care for them.

Even if you follow all of the care instructions, swimwear has a limited life span. If you wear it in chlorinated pools or in hot tubs the life span is much shorter.

The amount of chlorine in any public pool or hot tub is difficult to assess. Chemicals are constantly being added as they are depleted by use. One day they may be very low and be of little threat to your swimsuit. The next day they may be very strong and able to do damage to your suit in just one visit.

Before purchasing a swimsuit, consider what your main uses of it will be. Will you be swimming laps three times a week, mainly lying in the sun working on your tan, or playing beach volleyball? Different suits are designed for different uses.

Endurance Suits:
You want an endurance suit if you are swimming regularly in chlorinated pools or spending time in a hot tub. Lap swimmers, those doing water aerobics, or anyone who spends most of their swimsuit time in chlorinated water should look for this type of suit.

Endurance suits are more chlorine resistant than regular suits and will last much longer than conventional swimwear. To do this they usually have a much lower amount of Lycra Spandex. It is the Lycra the breaks down the fastest in chlorine. A suit without Lycra is less stretchy and harder to get on and off, which is why they tend to be less popular.

Activewear suits:
If you will be running and playing in or out of the water you need a suit designed for these activities. Playing beach volleyball requires jumping and running. This creates bounce. You will need good support and strong straps to hold you. Don’t try to take a bandeau top or a strapless suit and expect it to give you the support a tank suit would.

This is also the style suit you will want if you are doing water aerobics, swimming laps or other water activities. A tank suit or tankini with good straps that will stay on your shoulders and hold up to vigorous activity is your best choice.

Sunning suits:
If you will be primarily lying in the sun, working on your tan, you can choose a suit with skinnier straps, or no straps. These suits may be cut low on top and high on the bottom. Sometimes they are made with metallic fabrics or metal grommets, buckles, or other fashion extras. A suit of this type is designed for sunning only, not for swimming.

Try to avoid oil based suntan lotions. Oils are harmful to swimwear elastic and will stain some fabrics. If you occasionally jump into the pool while tanning, try rinsing off under a fresh water shower after being in the pool. The heat of the sun will set the chlorine, eventually weakening the fabric's fibers.

Here are several tips to help your swimsuit to last longer.

  • Soak your new suit in a mixture of vinegar and water for 30 minutes (1 tablespoon vinegar to 1 quart of water) to slow down fading of bright colors.
  • Shower with clear water before going into the pool. If the suit is already saturated with clear water, it will absorb slightly less chlorine.
  • Rinse your suit in cool water immediately after swimming.
  • Hand wash in cool water with mild liquid soap (no Woolite). Rinse well.
  • Use a suit cleaner; it extends the life of your new suit by neutralizing the leftover pool chemicals that eat at the materials.
  • Wash your suits separately until any excess dye washes out. Most suits will bleed a little the first few washings. This is normal, the bleeding will stop.
  • Squeeze out excess water.
  • Roll up in a clean, lint free, and light-colored or fade resistant towel and squeeze again.
  • Hang to air dry. Do not line dry your suit in the sun.

Suit Don’ts:

  • Do not sit on the pool edge without using a towel to protect the bottom of your suit. Do not rub the front of your suit along the inner edge of the pool. The Lycra filaments will snag causing them to break. Your suit will begin to have that "pilled" look.
  • Do not bleach your suit, iron it, or wash it with whites.
  • Do not machine wash or dry. Washing machines and detergents are too harsh and will lead to premature suit breakdown. Excessive dryer heat will destroy your swimsuit.
  • Do not leave rolled up in wet towels or in gym bag. Moisture left in your suit for extended periods of time will lead to unwanted odor and suit failure.

Special care instructions:

  • Use extra caution with holographic and metallic fabrics, they are very delicate. These suits are for show only. The metallic will eventually wear off.
  • Wear only your oldest suit in a hot tub or Jacuzzi. They are the equivalent to putting your suit in a pot of bleach water on the stove and simmering it. No suit will hold up when used in hot tubs, Jacuzzis, or heavily chlorinated pools.
  • To remove a stain, work from the underside of the stain to push it out, not rub it in.
  • If a suit is spot cleaned, air dry the suit. Then, if the stain isn't gone, you can treat it again.

High Performance Fabrics
Many high performance fibers, microfibers and finishes allow the fabric to breathe and to transport moisture away from the skin to the outer surface of the fabric, where it can evaporate. This keeps the wearer dry and comfortable.

Examples include:

  • Under Armour
  • Wickers Underwear for Anywear
  • Moretz Sports: Kathy Ireland PowerSox for Women
  • Coolmax® is the industry leader when it comes to moisture management.
  • Search using the keywords ”high performance apparel’.

With any fabric, one of the best things you can do is read and follow the care instructions on the garment label. Keep aware of different procedures for any the finishes, linings, insulations, trims, and embellishments on the garment.
Clean regularly as needed,

Treat stains quickly, blot don’t rub, as rubbing can make the stain move deeper into the fabric. Check the stain after washing. If the stain remains, try rewashing. Once the garment has been dried in the dryer, the stain is most likely set by the heat.

Sort and launder items made of natural and manufactured fibers separately. Natural fibers can release oils which can be attracted to and stain manufactured fibers like polyester and nylon.

Use the delicate cycle for items with spandex (bike shorts, yoga pants, stretch tees, etc.) and for good knits (Tees, polo shirts, shorts, etc.).

Do not bleach items with Spandex Lycra. Bleach damages the fibers of the Spandex.

Use a low heat dryer. Fibers such as acrylic, nylon, polyester, and polyolefin dry very quickly, and should be watched closely. Polyolefin can actually melt if the dryer temperature gets too high.

Fabrics, linings, or insulations could shrink or be otherwise damaged from using too hot a temperature or from leaving garments in the dryer too long. Take items out of the dryer when they're slightly damp. If they are hot to the touch, you waited too long

If care instructions say no fabric softener, do not use it. The material in a fabric softener attaches directly to the fabric and makes the fabric feel softer. However, fabric softeners can buildup over time, and can reduce the ability of the fabric to manage moisture and breathe.

Some new high performance fabrics have been coming onto the market in the last couple of years. Here are some examples:
Sun Solutions sun protective clothing provides the maximum available protection from the sun's ultra-violet rays! Fabrics are treated with a UV inhibitor, blocking entirely the penetration of harmful radiation to the skin while eliminating the need for cosmetic sun care products.

UV Sungear offers a wide selection of the highest quality, hard-to-find sun protection items for infants through 12 year olds.
Splashskins UV protective swimwear for your children.
Coolibar Sun protective swimwear.
BUZZ OFF™ apparel Insect-repellent clothing.

Summer Clothing Stains The following stain procedures are for washable clothing

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