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Islamic Swimsuits Fabric Care Basics

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Islamic Swimsuit Fabric Care

A customer report goes like this; “I ironed the pants of my swimsuit, there is some visible damage to the fabric, what should I do now?!”  Or another; “After three months only, my swimsuit color started fading slighly, what gives?!”   

A handful of similar customer reports prompted us to write this article.  The topic of how to care for swimsuit fabric is an important one.  Some people know more than others, based on past experience, how to care for swimsuits.  Fabrics are fabrics, regardless of the swimsuit design being Islamic or not, the same care ideas apply.  But since the Islamic full-cover swimsuit concept is a recent one, many Muslim women are buying their “very first” swimsuits.  The topic of swimsuit fabric care, then, becomes a necessity.   

Swimsuit Fabrics

Before discussing how to care for the swimsuit, it may be best at this point to explain briefly the type of fabrics used in making the swimsuits.  At the time of writing this article in November 2010, all Islamic Swimsuit makers are using what is known as simple “Elastomers” to make swimsuits.  In simpler words, these are 100% polyester, or a mixture of polyester and spandex (or lycra.)  This composition provides varying degrees of water resistance, chlorine resistance, drying rate, and fabric compliance; i.e. amount of stretching.  The most popular mix is 82% polyester and 18% spandex – offering a great amount of 4-way stretching.  One important aspect about this fabric is also its soft and comfortable feel of the fabric, making it ideal as fashion swimwear and for the uses of the casual swimmer.   

The above fabric type also covers the bulk of non-Islamic swimsuits available on the market, from bikinis to full-body swimsuits, found at your neighborhood sporting goods or department stores.    

Pofessional swimming suits are a different story and they have a life cycle 20 times longer than the casual swimmer swimsuit.  Professional swimsuits are less comfortable, they feature less polyester, and feel rough when first worn.  They are also designed to be skin-tight (for performance) and are not as shiny.  The fabric is markedly different, it is designed for perforamnce and racing applications.  Such fabric characteristics make it difficult to use it to make Islamic swimsuits which observe modesty.   

Alsharifa.com is currently experimenting with fabrics that take the best features out of professional swimwear and casual swimwear fabrics.  If the results will produce new products, they will be made available in Spring 2011.   

Elasticity

Islamic swimsuits, not unlike regular swimsuits on the market,  are also designed to be stretchy, they contain some spandex or lycra.  This is a desired feature to get a wonderfully flattering swimsuit.  Like anything elastic - think of a loaded spring - the more you stretch it, eventually it will lose some of its elasticity and start deforming permanentaly.  This means the swimsuit (or bikini, etc.) may become longer or wider, or a bit looser around the body.  With proper swimsuit care, this desired feature of elasticity or “stretching” can perform its function for a long period of time.   

If you use your swimsuit a couple of times per week, whether the swimsuit is Islamic or not, so long that it is made from this traditional casual swimwear fabric, the suit will have a life cycle of one season only.  This means you will need to buy a new swimsuit every year.  If you are not using this swimsuit every week, it should last you 2 or more seasons (years), depending on your frequency of use, and how you take care of the fabric.   

Heat and Elasticity. 

The more the swimsuit fabric is exposed to heat, the more it will lose of its elasticity; i.e. it will deform to stretch permanently, so instead of having a perfect fit, it may become more loose around the body, or slightly longer since the fabric stretches in 4 directions.  What this means is that if you use the swimsuit periodically in a hot tub or sauna, its life cycle will be shortened.   

Face the Brutal Fact - Chlorine Will Be the Winner!

 When you buy a skirt, or a pair of pants, you would expect them to last for months, some for years.  Skirts and pants, during their life cycle, are exposed to wear and tear from friction sitting on chairs and other surfaces that can be rough or smooth.  Such environments these clothing items get exposed to are not as severe as the highly chlorinated public pools where swimsuits function.     

Today, chlorinating public swimming pool water is a necessary evil.  Germs and other pathogens can quickly travel from body to body in a swimming pool, and chlorine, dangerous as it is in other aspects, helps to protect our bodies from these pathogens.  While chlorine kills or damages bacteria and viruses, it does damage more than that.  More important to the focus of this article, chlorine damages swimsuits to an almost irreparable extent.  Swimming in a chlorinated swimming pool is effectively equivalent to soaking your swimsuit in diluted bleach for a couple of hours.  Needless to say, this is hardly a practice that encourages the durability and color-fastness of the swimsuit.  

There are a few steps you can take to prolong the life of your swimsuit. Chlorine will always be the eventual victor; it is too powerful of a chemical to vanquish entirely. Still, attentive care to the washing of your swimsuit can help to ensure that it maintains its life and vitality throughout the summer. The point here; you need to face the brutal facts - unlike your other clothing items, your swimsuit is used in a severe environment.  Sooner or later the inevitable will happen; the life of the swimsuit will come to an end, typically much faster than you would expect with your other clothing items.   

Steps for Best Care of Your Swimsuit Fabric

If you have accepted the ultimate demise of your beautiful swimsuit but are not yet willing to give up the fight, here is what you can do to prolong the life of your swimsuit, despite constant dippings in chlorinated water. 

1. You must truly accept the fact that your swimsuit is not meant to last forever. While there are fabrics that are treated for chlorine resistance, no fabric can entirely resist chlorine’s damaging effects. 

2. You should make a consistent effort to take care of your swimsuit.  

3. After swimming, rinse your swimsuit as soon as possible in cold water. This act will remove much of the chlorine before it has too much of an impact. 

4. When washing your swimsuit, be sure to hand wash in cold water. 

5. You should never put your swimsuit in the dryer; the dryer will tend to exacerbate any color fading that may occur.  A heated drying option will also affect the elasticity of the fabric.  

6. The Islamic swimsuit is a larger-than-average swimsuit made using 3-5 yards of fabric, you must never use a SuitMate machine to squeeze water out of it.  The use of other types of swimsuit spinners and wringgers will have a damaging effect to your swimsuit.  These machines are typically designed to handle smaller swimwear pieces.

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