How to shrink a swimsuit - tips and tricks to fix a bathing suit that’s too big

We’ve asked the experts to save you investing in a new one-piece this summer

M&S and Bravissimo Swimsuits
(Image credit: M&S and Bravissimo)

There's nothing more frustrating than slipping into your favourite swimsuit only to find that it’s stretched out and baggy. Whether it's from frequent use, exposure to the sun and chlorine, or just over-time wear, a loose swimsuit can be a confidence-killer by the pool or beach. So we've put together an expert guide on how to shrink a swimsuit.

Finding swimwear for your body shape that fits and flatters can feel like a daunting and never-ending task. And after recently trying on a well-loved piece I wore last summer, I quickly realised the piece was too baggy and felt immediately disheartened. However, there is supposedly a brilliant solution, so I'm trying out these expert tips and tricks on how to shrink a swimsuit. And if, like me, you're also wondering how often you should wash your swimwear, she also offers some advice on this too!

Hyacinth Tucker, the Laundry Lady and CEO of The Laundry Basket, has offered her expert tips to help you tackle those loose swimsuits, letting us know that with the right techniques, you can bring your swimwear back to a flattering and tight fit!

How to shrink a swimsuit - The boiling method

She suggests that one of the best ways to shrink your swimsuit is the boiling water method, "fill a pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil," Hyacinth advises, then "carefully place your swimsuit into the boiling water and let it simmer for about 10 minutes." This process helps to tighten the fabric, reducing its size. However, make sure you always use tongs to remove the swimsuit from the pot to avoid any injury.

Once removed, rinse it off under cold water immediately to stop the shrinking process. This method is ideal for swimsuits made from natural fibres or blends that can handle the heat. However, be mindful of the specific material of your suit, as some fabrics don't respond well to high temperatures such as elastane, a quality material which usually makes the best tummy control swimsuits.

A gentler approach

If you’re hesitant about boiling your swimsuit, Hyacinth suggests a more gentle approach. "Wash the suit in cool water with mild detergent first," she recommends. "Then submerge it in boiling water for fifteen minutes." This method starts with a gentle cleanse to ensure your swimsuit is free from any oils, or chlorine, which could impact the shrinking process.

After soaking in boiling water, rinse the suit with cold water, this step helps to set the new size. Gently squeeze out the excess water, but avoid wringing it out, as this can distort the fabric. Place the swimsuit in a dryer on a low setting, and keep an eye on it. "Check on the suit often to avoid over-shrinking," Hyacinth says. This careful monitoring will help you achieve the desired fit without making it too tight.

Specific problem areas

Sometimes, it's not the entire swimsuit that needs shrinking, but specific problem areas, like the bottom of your swimsuit, for instance. In this scenario, Hyacinth offers a solution that includes soaking those specific areas in hot water. "Shot water helps relax the fibres, allowing for shrinkage," she explains. Meaning that you can target saggy spots by dipping only those parts into the hot water to create your desired effect.

For saggy bikini bottoms, Hyacinth offers a DIY fix, suggesting, "Try attaching matching straps to the sides of the bottoms with a needle and thread." By doing a simple alteration, such as adding your own straps to transform your regular bottoms into tie-up bikini style, you can tighten the fit. Or create knots in the straps for another quick and easy way to reclaim the tightness without going through the whole shrinking process.

And if you are wondering how to (or how often to) wash your swimsuit once you've shrunk it, then she suggests washing your suit with water after each use to remove chlorine, salt, and oils (such as suncream) that can weaken the fibres. Make sure you hand wash with a mild detergent and avoid using harsh chemicals, which can damage the piece. Allow it to air dry away from direct sunlight to ensure it keeps its elasticity or put it in the dryer on a low tumble.

How tight should a swimsuit be?

Your swimsuit should be closely fitted against your skin, and any bunching or excess material usually indicates that it may be too big. Of course, you should be able to move freely in the piece, and you should never feel uncomfortable. However, there should be a slight feeling of compression, and often swimsuits that have a ‘’held in feeling’’ are some of the best swimsuits for women over 50, offering support that flatters your silhouette.

Should you size up in swimwear?

Ideally you should choose your exact size, however, if you have a larger bust or longer torso you should consider sizing up. It is always essential to choose based on comfort and feel, so, if you are unsure, order multiple sizes to try on, or head to the store to compare.

Can you shrink a swimsuit in the washing machine?

If you are wondering how to shrink a swimsuit, the washing machine is not the answer. It is not recommended to shrink or even wash your swimsuits in the washing machine, as the impact of it can cause the piece to stretch out, and this may loosen the fibres. Follow the steps above instead of opting for the machine, and this should help tighten your swimwear.

Hyacinth Tucker Owner & CEO at Laundry Basket LLC
Hyacinth Tucker

Hyacinth Tucker, known as the Laundry Lady, is the founder of The Laundry Basket, LLC, and lives by the motto, "No laundry left behind." Hyacinth’s passion for laundry shines through her engaging approach, making every aspect of laundry care both entertaining and educational. She is dedicated to making laundry day smoother and more enjoyable—one sock at a time.

Molly Smith
Fashion Writer

Molly is a fashion writer for woman&home, whose journalistic career began with her enthusiasm for fashion. Having always been an avid writer, she has contributed to publications covering a variety of topics.

After graduating from her master's in Fashion History and Cultures, she transitioned to teaching at London College of Fashion, where she taught in fashion studies. Now, passionate about writing on the significance of fashion, she is dedicated to inspiring others through the power of dress.

Molly loves staying in the know with the latest fashion trends, and following celebrities for inspiration. Outside of work, she enjoys browsing vintage markets, reading a good novel, or trying new restaurants around London.