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Do Swimsuits Shrink or Stretch?

Most manufacturers make swimsuits from tight materials that can stretch to give you a comfortable fit. When you purchase a swimsuit you might wonder if you need a bigger size in case the suit shrinks or a smaller size if it stretches out over time. However, before settling on a decision, you’d need to know the answer to this question: do swimsuits shrink or stretch?

Do Swimsuits Shrink or Stretch?

Swimsuits actually tend to stretch over time. A swimsuit stretches out because the elastane loses its elasticity and will no longer snap back to its original shape. Certain nylon swimsuits will stretch less, but all swimwear stretch over time. As a result, you definetly don’t want to buy a loose fitting suit, because it will only get looser over time!

Two swimsuits being compared side by side whether they're shrinking or stretching

Why Do Swimsuits Lose Elasticity?

A swimsuit loses its elasticity because the elastic fibers break down and become weak. The elastic fibers in any article of clothing will eventually stretch out and become loose-fitting. However, the elasticity in a swimsuit is more susceptible to stretching out quicker because of a few aspects such as:

  • Chlorine
  • Washing machines
  • Bleach and laundry detergent
  • Dryers
  • Hang drying
  • Wringing or twisting
  • Sunlight

Chlorine

Chlorine is a chemical in pools and hot tubs that keeps the water clean. What you might not know, is that it can ruin your swimsuit over time. Chlorine breaks down the elastic fibers and can fade the color in swimsuits. If you’ve ever had a white bathing suit turn yellow, chlorine is the reason why. 

Even though polyester fabric is chlorine-resistant, it won’t prevent the chlorine from breaking down the elastane in your swimsuit. The only way to avoid this is to either avoid chlorine or switch up swimsuits so they can last longer. 

Washing Methods

You should almost never use a washing machine to clean your swimsuit. A swimsuit is often small and full of thin strings. This makes it easy to get tied around other clothes in the washer which means it was being stretched a lot between clothes.

Various kinds of swimsuits hanging in a rail

The best way to wash your suit is to hand wash it with cold water. The most important thing to do is to rinse your swimsuit in cold water right after you’ve taken it off. This will get rid of some of the chlorine and sunblock that’s been soaked into your suit. 

Make sure to avoid hard scrubbing while hand washing your swimsuit and never use bleach or laundry detergent. Instead, use a mild hand soap that will be gentle on the fabric.

If you would like to wash your swimsuit in the washing machine, always use cold water and use a delicate detergent. It helps to add it to a small load of clothes to prevent the suit from getting tied around other garments. Or, you can purchase a mesh laundry bag to place your swimsuit in while in the washer.

Drying Methods

Never use the dryer to dry your swimsuit! This is something you should always try to avoid. The heat of the dryer will cause the elastic fibers to break down causing it to lose its strength.

Air drying your swimsuit is a much better option that won’t stretch out your suit. However, do not hang your swimsuit while it’s wet. This can pull down on the elastane in the swimsuit and weaken it over time. Instead, place it on a towel and leave it to dry.

Make sure to avoid the sunlight when drying. It’s better to let your swimsuit dry indoors in a warm environment, rather than in the sun. UV rays from the sun break down the fabric in the swimsuit and can even allow the color to fade. 

Woman wearing a two piece swimsuit at the beach

Another thing to keep in mind is not to wring out or twist your suit after washing. This can also stretch out your suit. Squeeze the water out and if it’s still dripping, once you place it on the towel, roll the towel with the swimsuit, squeeze it and then unroll and leave to dry. 

Should I Buy a Swimsuit in a Size Smaller or Should I Size Up?

Because a swimsuit can stretch over time you shouldn’t buy a swimsuit in a size smaller. This can, in fact, stretch your swimsuit out sooner because it will have to stretch to fit your body each time you put it on. Not to mention, a smaller suit can give you an unflattering fit. 

Sizing up isn’t a good idea either. Getting a size up in bathing suits won’t prevent the swimsuit from stretching over time. It’s true that it won’t have to stretch to fit you, though, other aspects such as chemicals in pool water and sunlight will ruin the elasticity over time. So if you get a bigger size, you’ll be left with an even larger suit after you’ve worn it out. 

It’s always best to stick with your correct size when buying your swimwear. A smaller suit can create bulges and a larger swimsuit can leave you with a saggy bottom and not enough support in the chest.

Conclusion

Swimsuits are often made with durability in mind to withstand these harsh conditions and prevent it from stretching out. Though, depending on how you care for your swimsuit and how much you wear it can determine how long the elasticity lasts. If you follow the advice listed above, you’ll be able to keep your swimsuit from stretching out for a long time!

Hi there, I’m Allena, Founder and Editor of The Better Fit. I’ve always had a passion for finding ways to help women improve various areas of their lives. I have researched and worked to create this website so women would have a place to come and be informed about an article of clothing they literally wear every day.