Toes are almost out of sight.


Great swim this morning!  DadHTP and I headed to the pool bright and early and did 0.5-mile.  We’ve figured out that we have to work around the water aerobics schedule – they close down one of three lap lanes to accommodate the old ladies and gents doin’ their thang near one edge of the pool (not stereotyping water aerobics; that’s just how these classes are).  If we show up while a class is in session, it’s tricky.  Happily, I like lane sharing – getting water splashed into your mouth is good triathlon practice, right? – and it usually works out. 


I was thinking about this earlier – how do other swimmers wash their swim gear?  Chlorine eats swimsuits for breakfast; my last suit was so saggy after a few years of us.  I just bring my wet swimsuit home, toss it in the shower with me, and rinse it under warm water.  Sometimes, I squirt body wash on it, but not very often.  Then, I hang it up to air dry on the showerhead.  I never rinse my cap or goggles; I’ve had both for well over four years, and they’re holding up well.


I did some quick Googling and discovered opinions about washing swim gear vary widely.  A few suggestions:


  • Some people recommend laying your swimsuit out flat to dry so it doesn’t stretch.
  • Others use a special detergent made just for swimsuits and hand wash it in the sink.
  • Liquid hand soap can be used in lieu of detergent.
  • Latex swim caps should be rinsed, dried with a towel, and dusted with baby powder.  Lycra, silicone, or neoprene caps should be rinsed and allowed to air dry.
  • Goggles should be rinsed and allowed to air dry.
  • Taking a shower in your suit before getting into the pool may prevent it from absorbing some chlorine <— not sure I believe this…. sounds like an urban legend.


I buy my suits on deep sale at Dick’s or Sports Authority, so if they last me two years before breaking down, I think my shower-rinse method is acceptable by my own standards.  If I had pricier gear, though, I might do things differently…


Lunch included more lentils and cheese. Can’t get enough.



Salsa salad.


And watermelon.


So – how do you take care of your swim gear?  And, as an extension of this issue, are you really careful with your workout gear in general?  I must admit that I’m not – I toss my bike into the back of my car without a care; I pull off my running shoes without untying the laces (bad because it stretches out the shoes)



  • deva by definition May 21, 2012, 1:05 pm

    I untie my shoes, and 90% of the time, don’t put any of my lycra workout stuff in the dryer. The other 10% of the time, it’s because I need it dry for an event.

  • Victoria (District Chocoholic) May 21, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Oh man, a latex swim cap is like $1.50. No way am I wasting any time “taking care of it.” That’s like disposable price.

    For swimsuits, just rinse with plain water and hang to dry. And get some made with part polyester fabric, it will last much, much, much longer and take all sorts of abuse without fading.

  • Lindsey May 21, 2012, 1:10 pm

    I air dry most of my workout gear–especially my Yoga clothes! I just bought swim gear, and so far I’ve gone with the rinse and air dry method. But I almost always just pull off my running shoes without untying them!

  • Kris @ tryingtotri May 21, 2012, 1:13 pm

    I wash my swimsuits with all my other workout laundry, then hang to dry. But I bought my last four suits (I find one I like and buy 2 identical) for less than $40 each – 2 at Costco, 2 at Walmart. The Costco ones were $23 and lasted about a year. The Walmart ones are polyester training suits, I’m hoping they last longer!

  • Kristin May 21, 2012, 1:14 pm

    I have a speedo polyester swim suit for training – polyester is less stretchy, but lasts much longer and keeps its shape in chlorine! I always rinse my suit, goggles, and cap in clean cool water after every swim.

    I take pretty good care of my stuff – mainly because they’re expensive and I want them to last. I wash my clothes (nearly all of them) in cold water and hang dry. I find that even if the label says otherwise, they last much longer, don’t pill, and look better for years if I care for them this way. I also keep my sunglasses in the hard case whenever I’m not wearing them – It would be so sad to accidentally sit on a pair of $200 sunglasses and break them…

    • CaitlinHTP May 22, 2012, 12:14 pm

      I only buy $9 sunglasses for this exact reason.

  • Brigid May 21, 2012, 1:14 pm

    I have always used the same care method as you for my swim stuff, except that I do rinse my caps and occasionally baby powdered them in the past when I was competing. The most important thing is NEVER putting them in the dryer!

    For other stuff, I let them air dry and reuse a few times before washing. I’m sure that makes me kinda gross, but I don’t have that much running/yoga gear and have to use precious quarters for laundry.

  • Courtney @ Translating Nutrition May 21, 2012, 1:17 pm

    I swam on a team for many years, and there is just no way to avoid suit breakdown if you swim often. I do as you do (rinse in shower and let dry), but inevitably they will stretch out or breakdown overtime. Just a fact of life with swimming!

  • Eleonora May 21, 2012, 1:20 pm

    After a swim I usually get in the shower with everything on and rinse myself and the swimming gear with water. Then I wash swimsuit, cap and goggles in the basin with just a little of laudry detergent. Rinse well and air dry. My current suit (a polyester one) has been in use for the past 2 years, twice a week, and it’s still holding well.

  • Alyssa @ Don't Look Down May 21, 2012, 1:26 pm

    I always hop in the shower after I swim and rinse the chlorine out. Then I let it hang air dry. I try to avoid ringing it out because I heard this breaks down the fibers faster. And I always try to avoid using the spinny dryer thing at the gym. Although if I know I won’t be able to go home and hang it up for several hours I will use it.
    I’ve heard you are not supposed to put them in the washing machine either? Anyone know if this is true?

    • CaitlinHTP May 22, 2012, 12:15 pm

      Yeah, definitely do not ever put ANY swimsuit into the wash.

  • Anne Weber-Falk May 21, 2012, 1:33 pm

    I’m sure to wet down before the pool. Then after I rinse all the gear off well. I avoid the spinner. That thing will kill your suit fast. Every few weeks I’ll wash the stuff with soap. Always hang to dry. I also buy from H2O Wear. The suits are so long lasting. I’ve had mine over two years and the only thing that’s worn out are the cups of the built in bra. I’m in the pool every day and on some days for over three hours. I have to have quality gear that lasts and holds up.

  • Sara May 21, 2012, 1:38 pm

    hey caitlin,
    i’m not much of a swimmer, but I was always taught to rinse my suit out in Woolite (or alternatively, dish soap) in the sink as soon as possible. Cheap and easy…hope that helps!

  • Lindsay May 21, 2012, 1:43 pm

    I always did the old rinse and air dry method when I swam competitively in high school and college. Then when our suits got all old and saggy, we’d wear them over our good suits as “drag” suits– makes for a great workout! 🙂

  • Jo May 21, 2012, 1:45 pm

    I do the same thing as you and it’s worked fine for me. As for the showering first, I always did because it was a rule at my pool (and it made pool water less cold upfront) so maybe it did have something to do with my using a suit for 2-3 years.

  • Ellen May 21, 2012, 1:47 pm

    I’ve heard the same thing about your hair absorbing chlorine: if you get it wet in the shower before you get it in the pool it will absorb less chlorine. I guess it makes sense. Your hair can only absorb a certain amount of water. And if its already saturated with clean water, the chlorine won’t have any place to go.

  • Ruby Leigh May 21, 2012, 1:50 pm

    As an engineer (or at least I have the degree)… I’ll put my two cents in on the showering with the suit before pool use. I think that it would prevent chlorine absorption because of the dilution. However, it wouldn’t be 100%, this could also be said for hair.

  • Justine May 21, 2012, 1:52 pm

    I’m a swimmer…would recommend that you get a polyester suit (get one that fits because it will not stretch). I don’t buy lycra suits unless it’s for racing because they do stretch and don’t last very long; but what you can do to prolong it’s life is to rinse it in fresh water after use.

    I would advise to never wash your suit in a washing machine with all the soap and especially never use the dryer or goodness forbid, the “dryer” that some pools have in the locker rooms. Those things can tear your suits to shreds after a few times, especially the lycra ones.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats May 21, 2012, 1:54 pm

    I hand wash suits in the sink, although I haven’t been swimming in ages!

  • Carolyn @ Eat.Live.Be Well May 21, 2012, 1:57 pm

    I always shower after swimming, and I buy the durafast fabric not the lycra (TYR makes it, but Speedo has a similar long lasting fabric).

    If you are swimming a few times a week I think getting 2 years out of a swimsuit far exceeds it’s lifetime. Think, a pair of $100 running shoes will last you 6 months if you are running decent mileage. A $60 swimsuit will last you 8-12months if you are lucky. I’d say swimming is a pretty cheap sport to get started with.

    Two years using the same lycra suit is reeeaallly pushing it. That material starts to wear down very easily and becomes see through and saggy.

  • Army Amy* May 21, 2012, 2:10 pm

    Your lentils look so good!*

  • Kailey May 21, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Not a swimmer, but I am terrible at taking care of my running clothes…its kind of embarassing how many times I’ll wear the same jersey/shorts.

  • Lindsay @ Running the Windy City May 21, 2012, 2:24 pm

    I usually shower at my pool, so I’ll just wear my suit in the shower and soap it up before I take it off (still in the shower). I’m also lucky that my pool has a swimsuit drier that takes about one minute to dry a suit. Its pretty awesome!

  • Courtney Leigh May 21, 2012, 2:39 pm

    I love the spinner at the gym! I’ve never had a problem with it eating any of my suits. Actually the only way I lost a suit to it was that I left in inside of it and someone either took it or threw it away instead of putting it in the lost and found.

    I also have never rinsed out caps or goggles. But I’ve been through several because I – you guessed it – left them at the gym. I joked to my boyfriend that I don’t really have to worry about stuff breaking down because I’m just going to lose it before then anyway. He was less amused than me.

  • Laura May 21, 2012, 2:43 pm

    I just get in the shower w/ my suit on and wash it with water (sometimes soap) while its still on and then just hang up to air dry. I slip off my running shoes while still tied but I always untie them to put them on-I heard putting them on while tied will stretch them out-never thought about slipping off while tied. I also always air dry my sports bras and running shorts-my fiance has learned to check all the laundry before putting in the dryer!

  • Megan May 21, 2012, 2:57 pm

    Buy a polyester blend suit. I promise you will not regret it! I’m a lifelong swimmer (competitive through college and now swim 4+ times a week with a master’s team) and these suits completely changed the way I shop for suits. I’ve been wearing the same suit for 5 years now and haven’t had to replace it. Try Speedo Endurance+, but TYR and Nike also make great fitting suits. I never do more than rinse it in the shower after practice and hang it to dry when I get home.

    Does anyone have a good way for removing or preventing mold in a silicone cap? I switched from Lycra caps about 6 months ago, but my new cap is covered in little black dots, even though the cap itself is still wearable.

    • Lauren May 21, 2012, 3:25 pm

      The only real way to prevent your cap from getting moldy is to let it dry before shoving it into your swim bag. You can remove mold on your cap with hydrogen peroxide and water. I’ve used a nail brush to rub the spots off with soap and water and then let it soak for a few minutes in HP and H20. Ultimately, I just buy a new cap when they get moldy as mine tend to rip rather quickly shortly after.

  • Nicole May 21, 2012, 3:01 pm

    Wheb I used to swim regularly I invested in a speedo (~$50) made of chlorine resistant fabric. I’ve had it for years. However, I’ve always taken my swim gear in the shower with me post workout and given everything a scrub down with shampoo.

  • Bec May 21, 2012, 3:11 pm

    As a former swim teacher, getting your suit wet before hopping in the pool does help. Whenever I had a long break I would hop in the shower with my suit on and suds up before taking it off so it would get a good rinse! The other key – buy a swimsuit that the main material is spandex (usually Nike has them) as they will not get as stretchy as speedos or tyr suits do. Save an old stretchy suit to throw on OVER a new tight one to create drag if you want a slightly harder workout. Then when you go to do a race with just a single layer, you will fly!

  • Megan@therunningdoc May 21, 2012, 3:12 pm

    I swam competitively for 10 years and I took care of my swimming gear in much the same way as you. I would honestly usually shower in my bathing suit at the pool and then throw it over the side of the tub when I got home to let it dry and my suits always lasted many years! I never took special care of my goggles because I always ended up misplacing them before they could get messed up!

  • DadHtp May 21, 2012, 3:32 pm

    Back in the day one of my dealers also owned a swimsuit company, and he agreed with one of your other readers – in a pool, a year is a long time for lycra to last. It’s evidently a worse problem for men than women –

  • Sonia the mexigarian May 21, 2012, 3:36 pm

    Guilty as charged. I generally just rinse suit and gear with water and hang on the clothesline to dry. Once I forgot to take my silicone cap out of my bag and mold grew in it and the bag. Cleaned them off and good as new. Except my goggles which just so happened to snap off my head in the middle if a flip turn last week. Need to buy new goggles now and my 4 year old suit is hanging nnthere pretty well. I try to take special care of my bike since it cost me an arm and a leg and granted I only have ridden it once.

  • Sara May 21, 2012, 3:46 pm

    Well, since my swim wear only consists of laying out in my bikini for the moment I wash and hang dry. I plan on swim lessons this summer as a step towards Tris.

    My actual workout/running gear I follow the wash instructions. Especially my sports bra. I gasped when you said you don’t untie my laces. I remember the first time my husband took me to Luke’s Locker to get fitted for running shoes, the sale person and my husband gave me a talking to about my shoes when I slipped out before unlacing. Lol. I never take them off before untying now.

  • Ashley May 21, 2012, 3:55 pm

    The shower thing isn’t an urban legend. It works for both swim suits and hair. By getting wet, both the suit and your hair absorb water. The chlorinated water will not displace all the fresh water, so you’ll get less chlorine.

    Think about a glass of water. Fill it up, then place the full glass until a running faucet. The running water won’t displace ALL of the water in the glass, right?

    At least that’s what my swim coach taught us…

    • lynne May 21, 2012, 5:30 pm

      I’ve heard the same thing about hair/chlorine!

      • CaitlinHTP May 22, 2012, 12:17 pm

        yeah but how can the water from the shower ‘replace’ the water from the pool if you swim for 30 minutes?! i just dont understand.

  • Sammy May 21, 2012, 3:56 pm

    I’m so glad you did a post about swim gear today – I just ordered a new suit and signed up at my local YMCA to take a stroke clinic next month!

    I was hoping you might be able to offer me some advice: how should a good pair of goggles fit? I’ve bought and returned several pairs because they were incredibly uncomfortable, but maybe I’m just not used to wearing them. What brand do you use?

  • Joyce May 21, 2012, 4:58 pm

    I usually shower with my suit on afterwards. I will stop using the spinner thing-a-jig after reading these comments, thanks for the tip ( my last suit lasted only 6 months after 2 or 3 workouts a week)

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See May 21, 2012, 5:10 pm

    Admittedly, I’m not the best at taking care of my workout gear. After swimming in the ocean or pool, I normally just rinse my suit in cool water or take a shower with it on. Oops 😉

  • Coco May 21, 2012, 5:16 pm

    Being a competitive swimming for years, I have gone through more suits than I can really even keep track of. I honestly never washed them, and would just jump in the shower for a quick rinse and then squeeze them out the best I could (some places even had they machine that would do it for ya) roll them in a ball and be on my way.. Same with the cap and goggles, though I use swedish goggles that have no eye gaskets so they last forever and ever.. I never got long wear for suits by themselves, but as soon as they would become see thru I just used them for drag suits ( doubling or even tripling the suits worn at the same time during practice swims) so I would wear them for much much longer.. However I did swim 3 hrs a day 5-6 days a week so that’s probably why!!

  • Jenn May 21, 2012, 5:43 pm

    Unfortunately the pools near where I live aren’t great (if I have one bad experience with cloudy water I don’t go back) so haven’t been in a while but I would put it in with the regular clothes to wash after a few uses.

    Question – how do you prepare your lentils? They look delish!

    Enjoy the disappearing toes! Not much longer 🙂

    • CaitlinHTP May 22, 2012, 12:17 pm

      They are precooked ones from Trader Joes!

  • Lisa May 21, 2012, 6:22 pm

    I have an expensive swim suit but worth it. I forget what it’s made of, but it’s made of materials that last longer so it’s ideal for lap swimmers who are in the pool several times a week (like me).

    I use swimsuit cleaner for my suit and hang it in my shower. I’ve never had it stretch out.

    As for my caps, I replace them every month or so because they stretch out or break. It’s ok, they are like $2.

  • Andrea May 21, 2012, 6:25 pm

    I’m pretty meticulous about rinsing and towel drying my cap and goggles after a swim. As for my bathing suit, I usually hang it over the side of my laundry basket (so it doesn’t soak everything) and wash it on the hand wash/delicate cycle of my washing machine when I do my weekly laundry, and then hang it to dry.

  • Maura @ My Healthy 'Ohana May 21, 2012, 6:29 pm

    I’m just like you, I shower with my swimsuit on and then just hang it to dry. When my old suits get stretched, I sometimes wear it on top of my new suit to give a little bit more drag and add difficulty to my workout!

  • Hillary May 21, 2012, 6:33 pm

    My mom used to always wash our bathing suits in Woolite. Now I just give mine a quick soak in cold water and detergent and lie flat to dry!

  • Kelly @ Femme Fitale May 21, 2012, 6:45 pm

    Those lentils w/ cheese look delicious and so simple- great idea.

    I take the worst care of my ski gear. I’m usually so tired by the time we get back from the hill that it’s never put away or cleaned out properly 🙁

  • Annette@FitnessPerks May 21, 2012, 7:01 pm

    Great ideas! I usually lay ’em flat to dry too. And I always keep my goggles in their special case!

  • Anna D May 21, 2012, 7:34 pm

    Speedo Endurance is all swimmers wear! I know it’s probably not possible when pregnant–they barely have anything outside of the 26-32 range–but ever since that technology came out when I was 10 or so, swimmers have never worn anything but!!

  • Rae May 21, 2012, 7:53 pm

    You need to get your next suit at….$20 for a grab bag and they are hilarious! 9Think wonderwoman and sherrif suits) I have one that looks like a tuxedo!!

    • CaitlinHTP May 22, 2012, 12:19 pm

      Awesome website.

  • Christina May 21, 2012, 10:11 pm

    I dunno… if your suits last you 2 years you must be doing something right. Like $30 for all those workouts. Seems worth it!

  • Kara May 21, 2012, 10:32 pm

    I know I’m behind here and lots of people have already said this, but you should definitely invest in an Endurance suit post-baby 🙂 I never buy anything else anymore — as a full-time swimmer, anything other than the polyester suits fade out in a matter of months. But the Endurance suits, although they don’t have much stretch to them and they cost a bit more, last forever. (I’ve been wearing the same two suits for about three years now, and I swim just about every day haha)

    Best of luck in your swimming endeavors 🙂

  • Kim @ Spoonful Of Sass May 22, 2012, 10:05 am

    If you have not seen it yet, you have to check out the SNL 50 Shades of Grey Amazon parody. Hysterical! It’s on YouTube.

  • Joy Meece May 22, 2012, 11:33 am

    While in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this year, I had the pleasure of swimming in an indoor salt-water pool. Being a Floridian who enjoyed the ocean for years, I must say I loved it. Has anyone else had an opportunity to use a salt-water pool – if so, did you notice a difference and which do you prefer?

  • Amanda @ AmandaRunsNY May 22, 2012, 11:52 am

    I follow the same regimen as you. One thing I do as well is put baby powder in my caps to keep them from sticking together and then ripping/stretching out the cap.

    Also, as I saw some other people commented, layering the old suits over the new ones makes for great drag while swimming. I’ll literally let the old suits disintegrate before throwing them away.

  • Alett May 25, 2012, 9:12 am

    I shower in my suit after my swim then “spin” it in the suit spinner at the gym to dry it. As long as I remember I will wash it in the laundry and hang to dry. I try and rinse my goggles and cap. Having said that I occasionally forget to take my swimsuit out of my gym bag -> what a pleasant surprise I get when I discover this (NOT).

    The swimsuits at are awesome. I noticed that they are associated with -> I’ve gotten great deals on swim suits there (regular TYR suit) on grab bag for both hubby & myself.

    happy weekend!

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