Skip to Content

How do I stop my bathing suit from bleeding color?

Having your bathing suit bleed color can be frustrating and ruin your swimwear. However, there are some steps you can take to help prevent color bleeding and keep your suits looking vibrant for longer.

Why Do Bathing Suits Bleed Color?

There are a few key reasons why bathing suits tend to bleed color and stain other fabrics:

  • Dyes – Many bathing suits use cheap, low quality dyes that are more likely to run when wet. These dyes do not bond as strongly to the fabric.
  • Fabric – Some fabrics like rayon and cotton are more prone to holding dye than synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. The looser weave allows dye to escape.
  • Wetness – When a bathing suit gets wet, the fibers relax and open up, allowing dye to be released. Chlorine and saltwater also strip color from fabrics.
  • Friction – Rubbing and friction against other materials when wet can cause the dyes to break free from fabric and transfer.

How to Stop Color Bleeding Before Wearing Your Suit

The best way to prevent color bleeding is by pretreating a new suit before wearing it. Here are some tips:

  • Soak in vinegar: Add 1 cup of white vinegar to a sink or bucket full of lukewarm water. Submerge the suit and soak for about 30 minutes prior to washing. The vinegar will help set the dyes.
  • Use salt: Dissolve 1/2 cup of table salt in a sink of cold water. Soak the suit for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly before washing.
  • Spray with hairspray: Lightly spray white hairspray all over the suit before washing. This seals in the dyes.
  • Wash with color catchers: Add a few color catcher sheets to the first wash to absorb any excess dye.

Washing Methods to Prevent Color Bleeding

It’s important to always wash and care for bathing suits properly to avoid color transfer. Here are some tips for washing:

  • Turn the suit inside out before washing to minimize abrasion between fabrics.
  • Wash suits in cold water using a gentle cycle or hand wash if possible.
  • Avoid overloading the washer. Give suits room to move freely.
  • Use a mild detergent without bleach, which can strip color.
  • Don’t let suits sit wet. Transfer to the dryer immediately after washing.
  • Line dry suits or lay flat if possible to extend the life of the fabrics.
  • Wash suits separately from other clothes the first few times.

How to Remove Color Bleeding Stains

If you notice color bleeding from your bathing suit onto your skin or other clothes, don’t panic. Here are some tips for removing stains:

  • Rinse immediately: Flush the stained area with cold running water. This prevents the dye from setting.
  • Use salt water: Make a solution of 2 tbsp salt per 1 cup of water. Sponge this onto the stain and rinse.
  • Apply lemon juice: Use fresh lemon juice to pretreat the stain. The citric acid removes dye.
  • Try whitening toothpaste: Gently rub non-gel toothpaste onto the stain. The abrasives lift color.
  • Soak in milk: For fabric stains, soak in milk for 20 minutes. The proteins bind to loose dye.
  • Use color catcher sheets: Place stain face down on a damp color catcher sheet. Press and rinse thoroughly.

Preventing Color Bleeding Long-Term

To avoid having issues with color bleeding over time, here are some habits to get into:

  • Turn suits inside out before swimming and put on a clean rinse afterward.
  • Rinse with cold water after each use to remove chlorine and saltwater.
  • Wash after each use to remove oils, sweat, and grime that can loosen dye.
  • Avoid leaving wet suits sitting in a ball for long periods.
  • Store suits flat or on wide hangers to prevent creasing.
  • Keep suits out of direct sunlight, which fades colors faster.
  • Hand wash printed or bright colored suits separately.
  • Don’t use fabric softener as it coats fibers and prevents dye bonding.

Choosing a Bathing Suit to Prevent Bleeding

The dye method, fabric content, and construction of a swimsuit can impact color bleeding. Keep these tips in mind when shopping:

  • Choose reputable brands that use quality dyes like Speedo, Lands’ End, Athleta.
  • Fabrics like polyester, nylon, and polyamide hold dye better than cotton.
  • One-piece suits bleed less than bikinis due to less surface area.
  • Darker colors like black, navy, dark green are less likely to bleed.
  • Avoid neon, electric, or vibrant colors which use more prone-to-bleeding dyes.
  • Look for suits made of a single fabric/material instead of blends.

When to Discard a Bleeding Suit

If a bathing suit continues to bleed dye every time you wear it, even after proper washing and treatment, it may be time to retire it. Signs it’s reached the end of its lifespan include:

  • The color looks faded, washed out or uneven overall.
  • You notice pills, snags or holes starting to form.
  • The fabric feels thinner or stretched out.
  • Your swimsuit is over 5 years old.
  • The lining is deteriorating and you feel less comfortable wearing it.

While it’s disappointing to have to toss a favorite suit, worn out swimwear loses its shape and function over time. Retiring bleeding suits also prevents continued laundry frustrations.


Bleeding bathing suits can be a nuisance but there are steps you can take to stop or minimize color transfer. Pre-soak and wash new suits before wearing. Handle and launder gently using cold water. Treat stains right away. Look for quality constructed suits in darker or solid colors. With some care and caution, you can ensure your swimsuits stay vibrant summer after summer.

Problem Solution
New suit bleeding dye Soak in vinegar or salt water before washing
Color transferring to other clothes Wash suits separately in cold water
Stains on your skin Rinse with cold water, use lemon juice
Repeated color bleeding issues Discard old, damaged suit