Swimsuits and what they're made from
A question I am often asked when people are enquiring about swimsuits is, “Is it chlorine resistant”.
So what should we expect from our swimsuits?
More and more people are swimming and exercising, often in hydrotherapy pools. Hydrotherapy pools have a higher operating temperature and an increased disinfectant level. This asks even more from our swimsuits.
The first thing is to understand what material swimsuits are made from and what to expect from them. Some materials used are:
New technologies in polyester have improved the feel of the material. Polyester holds its colour and is resistant to chlorine. It is quick drying, holds its shape, resists shrinkage and is durable.
This is a registered brand name for a polyurethane-based synthetic fibre that’s also called spandex or elastane. It’s prized for its strength and durability. Lycra is almost always mixed with another fabric such as cotton or polyester. Due to its ability to mould to the body, Lycra is ideal for swimwear. You can find it in swimwear as:
LYCRA® XTRA LIFE™ fibre which protects your swimwear against degradation up to 10 times longer than unprotected fibres. Or as LYCRA® BEAUTY which is the new standard in sculpting swimwear that combines shape retention with comfort.
This fabric has become very popular for competition swimwear. It is made of 100% polyester. It has stretch and is chlorine-proof. It offers breathability, high UV protection factor (UPF 50+) and is fast drying.
Nylon fabric is an alternative fabric to polyester. Nylon is lightweight and offers a smooth fit. Nylon fabric has its disadvantages, as it is not chlorine resistant and not as long lasting as polyester.
Combined with polyester yarns PBT has a natural stretch factor similar to Lycra. It is chlorine resistant and fast drying.
This is a synthetic fabric that contains sweat-wicking and water-repelling properties that make it an ideal material for sports clothing. These fabrics are comprised of several types of plastics, which have complementary chemical properties.
Many swimsuits are made up of a combination of these fabrics. With increased dosages of chlorine and disinfectants used in hydrotherapy pools, it isn’t any wonder that our swimsuits need replacing more often.
With the use of sunscreens, tanning lotions and the effect of body perspiration thrown in, our swimsuits can take a beating.
It is important to take proper care of your swimsuit to prolong its life expectancy. There is nothing more important than washing it well, as soon as you can after swimming.
Anita, a world leading swimwear company, advise the following:
“To enjoy your beachwear as long as possible, please consider the following care instructions:
Chlorine, sweat, sand and sunlight can harm the elastane fibres and make your favourite swimsuit stretch.
That's why it is important to always rinse off your swimming costumes after you have worn it, no matter if you have touched the water or not. We recommend to hand wash in clean water using gentle washing powder.
If you prefer to use the washing machine, please carefully read the care label attached to your swimsuit. It is recommended to always put any swimsuits in a laundry bag selecting the gentle wash cycle at a maximum of 30° Celsius and to avoid fabric softener.
To dry your swimwear please avoid tumbling dry and do not expose to direct sunlight. Swimwear dries best outside at a shady spot”.
I also suggest that you rinse the swimsuit before leaving the pool, beach etc if possible. Simply wear it as you rinse off. The quicker you rinse, the less likely it is to be damaged or smell of chlorine. Also avoid wringing your swimsuit as that may damage the fabric. Wrap it in a towel, roll it up and squeeze gently instead.
Most swimsuits have lycra/spandex in them, which is a memory fabric. After you remove your swimsuit it will go back to its original shape, which may take a day. So it’s advisable not to wear the same swimsuit on consecutive days but allow it to ‘rest’ and go back into shape. This will help to prolong its life.
So, if you want a swimsuit that is 100% chlorine resistant, purchase one that is only made from polyester. It will withstand the effects of chlorine the longest. Swimsuits that contain elastane will not last as long as the polyester ones but look out for ones with Lycra Xtra Life, Lycra Beauty or Lycra Sensitive in them as they will last longer than plain elastane.
Whatever the material, I think we need to be realistic and expect our swimsuits to have a finite life. With more frequent swimming, higher dosages of chlorine and disinfectants, increased usage of sunscreens and tanning lotions, our swimsuits have to cope much more than they used to.
So next time you choose a swimsuit, check out what it is made from. Consider purchasing a polyester suit for exercise and one with Lycra Xtra Life, Lycra Beauty or Lycra Sensitive for leisure. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed along with living well so if you find that perfect swimsuit, enjoy it!