How to Shrink a Swimsuit – Nifty Tips and Tricks for Different Fabrics

Christine Steuber
Jan 25, 2022
It's summer but your swimwear is out of shape? Read this article to find out how to shrink your swimsuit and make it fit your body.

So, imagine the following situation. 

You bought a swimsuit for the summer but lost some weight before you could even use it. Now, it’s too big and, frankly, unwearable. 

Should you throw it away? 

Of course, not! Whether you’ve lost weight or your bathing suit is just too big, there are ways out. And no, that solution does not sound like: “Get ready and go to the shopping mall!”.

The answers I have prepared for you will show how to shrink a bathing suit at home.

Let’s dive in! 

3 Best Ways to Shrink a Swimsuit

Sewing should be your last option if you want to fix a swimsuit, and here’s why.

Unlike other fabrics such as cotton, bathing suit materials (polyester, nylon, lycra, spandex, etc.) are not as easy to repair with a needle and thread. Of course, this is totally doable for a professional tailor. But, if you are an amateur, you better not try this at home. You don’t want to leave permanent holes in your swimsuit, do you?

That’s why I decided to introduce you to less “dangerous” methods of sizing down a swimsuit fast without a needle and thread. But keep in mind that all of them still bear some risks depending on the type of material and how it’s handled.

But, on the other side, what if your favorite suit’s too big and you really want to wear it to the pool party? I completely understand your struggle! That’s why I have selected brilliant and practical ideas on how to make a swimsuit smaller.

Option #1: Dryer

When it comes to shrinking clothes, the dryer is the first thing that comes to mind because most it often makes our garments smaller when we don’t want it to. But in this case, if the swimsuit becomes too big, using a dryer is a perfect solution!

Before you begin the process, it is crucial to turn the swimsuit inside out to preserve its color. Also, make sure to remove the pads if they exist. The dryer often deforms bra pads in swimsuits, so it is safer to take them out before drying. No worries, you can always put them back. 

Here, I’ve prepared the step-by-step checklist you can print and keep at hand:

Shrinking swimsuit with dryer step by step instructions

Now, let’s discuss each of these tips in more detail.

Step #1: Hand-wash your swimsuit thoroughly

Wash your bathing suit by hand in cold water to get rid of dirt, sunscreen stains and oil. Use a gentle laundry detergent; it should not contain any bleach. After washing the swimsuit, wring it out and rinse to remove any foam residue.

If there are stains on the swimsuit, do your best to clean them before drying. If the sunscreen or oil stains get baked in the dryer, it will be impossible to remove them later. 

Also, if you were thinking of avoiding hand washing by putting the swimsuit in the washing machine, I have to disappoint you. The washing machine is not a good choice as overturning and spinning can further stretch your swimsuit.

Step #2: Put your swimsuit in boiling water

The next step is to soak the bathing suit in boiling water until the water cools to room temperature. You can use a pot on the stove, a microwave, or a kettle to boil the water. 

When the water is at its hottest, put your bathing suit inside and leave it like that for about twenty minutes. Wait until the it cools down, and then wring the swimsuit out. If you are worried that hot water will fade the color of your bathing suit, it won’t.

Step #3: Set the highest temperature of the dryer

Now it’s time to put the swimsuit in the dryer.

Choose the highest setting and the longest drying time. I do not recommend drying in an overloaded dryer, as this will prevent the swimsuit from receiving enough heat. As the dryer keeps rotating, the fabric fibers in your swimsuit will start to reduce, sizing down your garment.

Step #4: Let your swimsuit cool off to room temperature

After the drying cycle is over, leave the bathing suit to cool down to room temperature. Never wear a bathing suit immediately after drying, as the elastic retains a lot of heat and could burn you. The cooling process will only take ten minutes, so be patient!

Try the swimsuit on after it dries to make sure it fits you. If it is still large, repeat the process of boiling and drying. You can skip the first step (washing the swimsuit) because the it is already clean.

If you notice that your bathing suit hasn’t changed the size after three attempts it’s time to consider sewing or buying a new swimsuit. I do not recommend repeating the dryer method more than three times because high temperatures can darken the color of your bathing suit and make the material less durable.

Option #2: Ironing

Due to its high temperature and direct contact with the garment, iron can play an essential role in shrinking a swimsuit. Below, you will find another handy template you can save, with tips on how to use ironing to shrink your bathing garments:

hrinking swimsuit with iron step by step instructions

Now, let’s discuss each of these recommendations individually.

Step #1: Soak a bathing suit in cold water

Wash your swimsuit, then rinse and wring it out. Also, as with the dryer method, use cold water and a mild laundry detergent without bleach. 

Start by filling a bucket or sink with cold water and rub to remove all dirt from the bathing suit. After that, rinse the foam from your bathing suit with clean water. Then squeeze the bathing suit until it’s damp.

It is necessary to remove all stains before using the iron. The high temperature of the iron will only make all the blemishes on the fabric stay.

Step #2: Set the lowest temperature of the iron

Place a damp bathing suit on an ironing board and cover it with a cotton cloth. Remember that you should not put the iron directly on the bathing suit – this will destroy it. If you have no idea what to use, my advice is to take a plain cotton pillowcase.

Next, turn the iron to medium or low temperature. High temperatures will damage the swimsuit, so avoid this option. If you use a steam iron, you don’t need to pour water in because the swimsuit is already damp, so it doesn’t need extra moisture.

Iron the swimsuit with firm movements. Keep in mind that since the ironing temperature is low, the ironing process will take longer. 

Start ironing from the top to the bottom of the bathing suit. Press each on section of the bathing suit carefully and wait until you see the water evaporating. Do not press on the iron for too long – you can burn the fabric.

Step #3: Iron both sides evenly

After ironing one side, turn the swimsuit to the opposite side to iron it proportionally. Otherwise, one side will stay larger than the other. If you notice too much moisture on the ironing board, wipe off the excess with a towel.

You must be wondering when you need to stop ironing. The answer is – when all water evaporates. The ironing process can take time because both sides must be completely dry. So, since the process can take more than twenty minutes, find something to speed up your time. Turn on your favorite music or a TV show and enjoy it until you finish ironing, but don’t get too carried away!

Step #4: Let your swimsuit dry outside

After you finish ironing, put your swimsuit outside to air-dry. But be sure to avoid sun-drying because the heat negatively affects the color and weakens the elastic. The sun has high-energy radiation, which is why clothes are getting bleached. The impact of radiation on various materials causes a chemical reaction, ruining the color.

After drying it on the wire, try on your bathing suit. If you have not reached the desired size, repeat the ironing process once or twice. You can also choose to dry the swimsuit in the dryer, but I still recommend air-drying because this way, the material won’t be overtreated within a short time.

Option #3: Preventing Stretching

Suppose you’ve finally found a swimsuit that fits you perfectly, and after a few times you wear it, you notice that it has become stretched and lost its beautiful original shape. 

I’m sure you’re familiar with this situation. The three biggest culprits of stretching a bathing suit are the sun, chlorine, and inadequate washing. Personally, I know how frustrating it is when your favorite swimsuit is ruined. That’s why I’ve prepared another downloadable template with tips, following which will prevent your bathing garments form stretching:

Tips to prevent swimsuits from stretching

Let’s discuss these recommendations in detail.

 Washing tips:

  • To keep the perfect shape of your swimsuit, it is important to wash it always after every use. And even if you don’t go to the pool, but you wear it for sunbathing, give your bathing suit a thorough rinse. Sunscreens, oils, sweat, and sand can significantly affect the look of a swimsuit. Too much accumulation of dirt can cause faster deterioration of elastic fibers.
  • I advise hand-washing in cold water with a mild detergent. Although a washing machine may be your favorite and more practical solution, avoid it when it comes to washing swimsuits. As I mentioned earlier, a centrifuge is the enemy of your bathing costume, and there is a high probability that it will stretch and destroy it.

Drying tips:

  • Instead of using the dryer, you should hang your swimsuit on a wire. Yes, a dryer is a great option to make a swimsuit smaller, but you shouldn’t practice it too often. Instead, opt for air-drying to prevent the fiber from stretching.
  • I believe you want to put your swimsuit in the sun to speed up the drying process but avoid it. As I mentioned earlier, the sun destroys the elastic and bleaches the color of your bathing suit. Instead, put the swimsuit in the shade and wait until it is completely dry.

As you can see, treating your swimsuit the right way is no rocket science, but these tips can save you a lot of money.

Extra tip:

When wearing a swimsuit, avoid sitting on rough surfaces that can damage it. Place a towel on the concrete, chairs, or floor first before you sit down. It will prevent the fabric fibers from stretching, saving your garment from unwanted damage that may occur.

How to Shrink a Nylon Swimsuit?

When it comes to the type of bathing suits, I prefer the ones made out of nylon because they are affordable and dry very quickly. They are also very comfortable to wear and come in various models, so everyone can find something for themselves.

The nylon material is soft and has a nice shine that gives it a dose of attractiveness. Combined with elastin, nylon swimsuits perfectly follow the body line. For this reason, one-piece nylon swimsuits are very trendy. I mean, look how cool it can look styled with just a few accessories:

Nylon swimsuit styling idea

You can shrink a nylon swimsuit in two ways I explained earlier: using a dryer or an iron.

Here, you need to pay special attention to a few things to keep the quality of your nylon swimwear high. 

  • Don’t wash nylon bikinis too often. Nylon swimsuits are usually long-lasting, but washing and drying them too frequently increases the chance of color fading. Don’t use too much fabric softener when washing a nylon swimsuit, as it is not easy to rinse it out completely from this kind of fabric.
  • It’s best too air-dry nylon swimwear. You can do the procedure with a dryer and iron once or twice, but do not overdo it. Hand-washing and air-drying will extend the lifespan of your nylon swimsuit.

Also, if you prefer one-piece suits, they achieve the best results for shrinking. The high temperature will fix saggy one-piece swimsuit bottoms, and you will notice how firmer and tighter they will be. If you want to shrink a one-piece swimsuit, you will have less problems than someone who tries the same with the nylon bikini.

How to Shrink a Polyester Bathing Suit?

I can say without a doubt that polyester is the most popular material for making swimwear for several reasons. 

For instance, one of the biggest advantages is polyester’s outstanding endurance. This fabric dries quickly, resists chlorine and UV light, and is quite durable – polyester swimsuits can last for several summers. There are also many models of swimsuits to hide your tummy. And, polyester swimwear is also very stylish:

How to style polyester swimsuit

The process of shrinking a polyester swimsuit is completely identical to shrinking nylon swimwear. But there is one important thing you need to pay attention to.

After washing, soaking in boiling water, drying in the dryer, and using the iron, make sure the swimsuit has reached the desired size. If not, you can repeat the process in the dryer two to three times, but do not iron again. The iron will damage the polyester and cause the fading of colors.

P.S. The good news is polyester is highly resistant to stretching, so there is a possibility that you will never have to do any of these steps at all!

Tips for Shrinking Bikini Swimsuits

The top of the bikini still fits you perfectly, but the bottom is stretched? Or maybe the other way around? Don’t worry; you won’t have to buy an entirely new bathing suit.

Instead, focus on the part that no longer looks good. Here are some steps you can follow for bikini tops and bottoms separately.

How can I shrink a swimsuit bottom?

Many swimsuits, especially those made for big thighs, have a stretching problem. So, tying is always a good idea to make bikini bottoms smaller. If your bikini bottom does not have laces, you can cut each side of the panties in the area of the pelvic bone. Then make small embroideries, knots, or bows yourself, depending on how much excess material you have. This is an easy way to resize bikini bottoms, but make sure it looks nice so that no one notices your alterations.

How to make a bathing suit top smaller without sewing?

The bikini top can be a little more demanding when it comes to alterations. If you go through the process of washing, drying and ironing, and the result is still not good enough, try some of these tricks.

For instance, if your bikini top has stretched laces, cut them to the appropriate size. If a bikini has a buckle on the back, you can cut it off. Before that, make sure you have enough material left to tie your swimsuit.

Also, the bikini cup size can shrink at high temperatures. So, I repeat once again – don’t forget to take out the bra pads before using the dryer!

Wrapping Up

If you’ve been thinking of throwing away your favorite swimsuit, I sincerely hope you gave up after this article. You need to arm yourself with patience and time, but it will be worth it. As you can see, it is possible to shrink a swimsuit in different ways, so be persistent and careful until you achieve the perfect result.

Now, let’s recap: bathing suits are mostly made of polyester, nylon, lycra and spandex. These materials are harder to shrink, but the mission is not impossible. Dryer, iron and boiling water are just some of the transformation options. 

To shrink the suit or maintain its shape and color, do not forget a few basic rules:

  • Handwash your swimsuit – don’t use the washing machine.
  • Remove all stains before putting the bathing suit in the dryer.
  • Do not leave the swimsuit directly on the sun.
  • Use a towel when sitting on a rough surface.
  • Be sure to remove the bra pads before using a dryer.
  • Don’t forget to put protective material over the swimsuit before ironing.

And that would be it! With enough attention and care, your favorite swimsuit will serve you for many years.

If you want more professional fashion tips to take your personal style to the next level, visit my blog!

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