After getting out of water, it’s common to strip out of your wet bathing suit and hang it to dry until it’s ready for your next swim. Rewearing swimsuits before you wash them means you can enjoy a summer full of swimming without owning a bajillion suits or doing laundry all the time. And since you wear swimsuits in the water, they’re technically kind of clean when you take them off, right? Sort of, says Lucky Sekhon, MD, a New York City-based fertility specialist and board-certified OB-GYN. Rewearing a swimsuit before washing it can be gross, but it depends on the circumstances.
“Bathing suits do not need to be washed every single time you wear them,” says Dr. Sekhon. “If swimming in chlorinated or salt water, however, it is beneficial to wash the bathing suit every time. If wearing the bathing suit while outside of the water, for an extended period of time, I would recommend washing it before reuse.”
So if you’re swimming in chlorinated or saltwater, or wearing your suit outside of the water for a long time, be sure to wash your swimsuit after every use.
“Unlike wearing a bathing suit in the water, wearing a bathing suit outside of the water for a prolonged period of time is akin to wearing underwear,” says Dr. Sekhon. “Build up of sweat, vaginal discharge after prolonged wear outside of the water, while dry, should be cleaned before the bathing suit is worn again. If not, this can lead to skin irritation and discomfort.”
Additionally, staying in wet bottoms for too long could lead to a yeast infection, especially if you’re prone to them. Jacqueline Ho, MD, MS, assistant professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at USC Keck School of Medicine, explains that “things like tight clothing, non-breathable fabric, and moisture can predispose you to having a yeast infection.” Change into dry clothing sooner than later, and remember that you have a higher risk of developing a yeast infection if you have diabetes, were recently on antibiotics, are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system.
If you’re taking a dip in freshwater or unchlorinated water and change right before and after your swim, you’re good to rewear it. This is also better for your bathing suits in the long run.
“Frequent washing may actually lead to the fabric wearing down and decreased longevity of the suit,” she says. “Most bathing suit designers and manufacturers recommend letting the bathing suit air dry and washing only every three to five wears.”
To prolong the life of your swimsuit (and keep your bits healthy and happy) Dr. Sekhon recommends using your usual detergent to hand wash your swimsuits.
Designer Yasmine Eslami tells The Strategist that there’s a right way to hand wash your delicates. First, fill your sink with room-temperature water, not hot. Add some soap to get the water nice and sudsy. Then instead of rubbing your swimsuit to get it clean, gently and repeatedly push each pair down to the bottom of the sink and let it float back up to the surface again. After letting them soak for an hour, rinse with cold water and hang to dry.
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