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/ Source: TODAY
By Ragan Clark

Whether at a pool, beach, lake or park, putting on a swimsuit can be a highlight of the summer, but don't let the laundry aspect scare you. There's no reason to stress about how to wash your swimsuit after a day in the sun.

TODAY Style spoke with the experts to get some tips for how to keep your swimsuit clean as you enjoy your summer.

Washing your suit correctly will help it retain its shape and color.suman bhaumik / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Can you put a bathing suit in the washing machine?

The short answer is: It depends. Most bathing suits will tell you on the label that hand washing is preferable.

According to ProSwimwear, an international competitive swimwear retailer, the wash cycle can damage the swimsuit's fabric. Outdoor clothing company Recreational Equipment, Inc., commonly referred to as REI, also recommends washing by hand.

Hand washing not only ensures that your bright coral swimsuits stay bright (and coral), but it also gives your suit more longevity and helps keep its shape.

Detergent company The Laundress suggests washing swimwear by hand in a bath of warm water.

But there are also some companies that intentionally use machine-friendly fabrics.

Jake Danehy, CEO and co-founder of sustainable swimwear brand Fair Harbor, says that his company’s wares are made so that they can be machine washed, so be sure to check the label on your specific swimwear.

Should I use baking soda?

If your swimsuit does require hand washing , baking soda is a perfect product to use.

Tyler Mulholland, clothing sales lead for REI, calls baking soda an "excellent means of cleaning all types of swimwear."

Baking soda brand Arm & Hammer recommends using half a cup of baking soda to “brighten,” “freshen,” “remove odors” and “give new life” to laundry. Just fill the sink with cool water, add the baking soda, let your suit soak, rinse it out and hang it to dry.

Not only is baking soda great for a general clean, but it also does the trick for pesky stains. Arm & Hammer also recommends pre-treating stains, such as coffee or wine, by mixing 6 tablespoons of baking soda with 1/3 cup warm water to create a paste. Test it on the swimsuit in a discreet area, to make sure there is no color bleeding or fading, and then apply the paste to the stain. Once the paste dries, wash it out and hang to dry.

Sometimes, your suit just needs a water rinse, rather than a full clean.Getty Images

So, what is the best way to wash a bathing suit?

Using mild or even no detergent at all is the best way to clean your suit. Corey Simpson, PR and communications coordinator at Patagonia told TODAY that washing in cold water without detergent is recommended, while Danehy recommends using mild detergents for machine-friendly swimsuits.

The Laundress recommends using a small amount of detergent in a warm bath, agitating the water to incorporate the soap and letting the swimsuit soak for 30 minutes before rinsing clean.

When should I wash my suit?

Representatives from Patagonia, REI and Fair Harbor all agree that suits don’t need to be washed every time you wear them.

“Let them air dry,” said Danehy. “And only wash them when need be.”

Mulholland suggests washing swimsuits roughly every three to five wears.

There is one occasion when it's beneficial to wash immediately. The ProSwimwear site suggests using a mild soap as soon as you're out of chlorinated water. Chlorine that is not washed away with soap can eat away at your suit, degrading the fabric.

Simpson agrees that removing excess salt water and chlorine is essential to improve longevity, and recommends rinsing the garment in fresh water as “minimum best practice.”

What if I need to machine wash?

It is important to consider fabrics when buying swimsuits, especially if you are someone who prefers to machine wash. Look for longer-lasting materials, like polyesters and nylons, when possible.

Always hang dry your suit. Getty Images

What about drying?

The one thing emphasized by all our experts? Always, always hang dry your suit. Simpson says that dryers significantly decrease the lifetime of a suit, especially those with materials such as Spandex or Lycra.

If you want your bikini to last through the years, make sure you hang it to dry.

Now that you know how to keep your suit clean, you’re ready to hit the beach in style!