The Swimsuit Edition
My years on the swim team and as a lifeguard enhance my understanding of the effects of the pool water on my swimsuit. I know the sunlight plays a part in swimsuit color fading, but what about pool water? Swimming pools use chlorine to keep the water sanitary. I was always told to rinse my suit in cold water after a day at the pool to reduce the color loss in the suit. But I began to wonder how much rinsing actually helps the material maintain its color.
I did an experiment. First, I considered the characteristics of the chlorine used for sanitizing pool water, the types of materials often used for making bathing suits and manufacturer's recommended care for swimsuits. Then, I tested three swimsuit materials, all blends: polyester/spandex, cotton/spandex and most popular, nylon/spandex. I found that the polyester/spandex blend maintained its color and vibrancy most efficiently, while the most common material used for swimsuits, the nylon/spandex blend, faded the most, but still maintained its color. The cotton/spandex blend, changed color but maintained its saturation level.
Color also matters. I only considered 3 colors, red, green and purple. I found that the red polyester/spandex blend kept its color best in the pool water solution. In the nylon/spandex blend, the purple color changed color the least. The green color, in the cotton/spandex blend, faded the least; the amount of change was still significant. The red color in the polyester/spandex blend maintained its color-fastness throughout the length of the entire experiment, whereas the purple nylon/spandex blend and the green cotton/spandex blend did not.
I also had to test the theory that rinsing helps keep swimsuits from fading. Based on my research, not so much. Rinsing has very few positive effects. In fact, a few colors that were rinsed actually faded more. Rinsing the polyester/spandex blends and the purple and red nylon/spandex blends helped maintain color minimally. The cotton/spandex blends and the green nylon/spandex blend actually fared worse and lost more color when rinsed.
When buying a swimsuit, consider what you will be doing all summer. If you plan to spend most of your time in pool water, purchase a red or purple polyester/spandex blend swimsuit because they maintained their color most efficiently when exposed to chlorine. For a more stylish and attractive suit, purchase one in a cotton/spandex blend, but don't wear it in the pool very often because the chlorinated water will change its color. Unfortunately, nylon/spandex blend suits are the most available on the market, but the suit color will fade in chlorinated pool water after only a few uses.