How to Shrink a Swimsuit

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There are several options to shrink a swimsuit.
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Have you ever had that nightmare where you're walking through your high school or workplace naked? Coming out of the water without your bathing suit can be the real-life equivalent of that nightmare. When a suit's too big, it's impossible to enjoy your day at the pool or by the water. Shrinking a swimsuit isn't quite as easy as you might hope, but there are a few tricks that may help you get and keep that perfect fit.


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Options for Shrinking a Swimsuit

The problem with shrinking swimsuits is that these garments are made to keep their shape. Bathing suits are typically made with synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon. They're designed to stretch to the wearer's body shape without being damaged, so these fabrics are resistant to shrinking. A suit made primarily of nylon and/or polyester won't become a size smaller through any special laundry hacks.

There are some bathing suits made of more easily shrinkable fabrics, though these suits tend to be designed to be more fashionable than functional. If you're trying to make a cotton blend suit fit you better for a photo shoot, for example, it may be possible to shrink the fabric slightly. Throw the suit in the washer on warm and then in the dryer for a full cycle and let the heat and tumbling action do their best. As long as the suit hasn't been washed more than a few times before, the fabric may shrink noticeably.


Altering a Too-Big Swimsuit

Because shrinking isn't feasible for most suits, alterations could be the best way to save your favorite bikini or trunks. Tailoring a bathing suit isn't easy, however. The suit's stretchy fabric and the elastic thread used to construct the suit are both difficult to work with, so a novice sewer shouldn't attempt this project. A local tailor can make alterations to a suit that you really want to keep.

Alternatively, you may be able to do some quick and dirty fixes at home to make an overly large swimsuit better fit your body. In a pinch, use safety pins to fold the material over and keep it in place. A needle and thread can also be used to quickly take in the seams of a baggy suit. This stitching may leave permanent holes in the fabric, though that may be preferable to climbing out of the pool without your bottoms on.


Preventing Swimsuit Sagging

It's hard enough to find one bathing suit that fits you perfectly. To find that suit and then have it turn baggy and saggy after just a few uses is a huge disappointment and a waste of money. Chlorine, heat and sunlight can do a lot of damage to elastic fabrics. Instead of tossing the wet suit somewhere and forgetting it until the next pool day, take care of the fabric after every wearing to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.

Rinse the suit in cold water after every use to remove any chlorine or other substances. When you want to launder it, skip the washing machine and gently hand wash with soap, being careful not to pull or stretch the suit in the process. Lay the bathing suit flat to dry instead of using a dryer.


Even with some precautions, anything made of elastic tends to get looser the more it's used and washed. The best strategy to prolong the life of your suit is to buy one that fits you snugly from the start. Don't buy a size up to minimize the appearance of lumps and bumps; it may be flattering on the first wearing but can end up gaping or sagging later on.