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Is It Safe to Buy Second Hand Swimwear?

Because hygiene always comes first.

Last Updated on June 18, 2023

Buying secondhand swimwear can come with a certain hesitation. Even the savviest shoppers may hesitate to invest in pre-loved bathing suits. But is buying secondhand swimwear really something to worry about?

Wearing used swimwear can spark divided opinions, with some advocating its acceptability while others find it unhygienic and off-putting.

It’s hard not to notice the growing trend of secondhand fashion over the past year. More and more people are embracing the mission of sustainability and giving up fast fashion, rescuing clothing items from going to waste and making a positive impact on the world, one piece at a time. 

As these eco-fashion crusaders pave the way for a more sustainable and conscious approach to dressing, the search for secondhand bargains has become more convenient than ever, thanks to platforms like Vinted and Depop

I’m a sucker for vintage fashion, and as long as I’m not catching any disease, I’m going to continue thrifting.

Curiosity led me to a deep dive research of a definitive answer on whether shopping secondhand for swimwear is truly a concern.

Let’s delve into what I have found.

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Is it hygienic to buy second-hand swimwear?

The hygiene of secondhand swimwear can vary depending on factors such as the condition of the item, how it has been stored, and the cleaning practices employed by the previous owner.

Independent recently published an insightful article addressing this concern, featuring interviews with medical professionals who offer their expert opinions on the matter.

“By the nature of what they are for, swimsuits are not very breathable and hence an easy trap for moisture,” says personal physician and private home visiting GP Dr Suhail Hussain.

“The area it covers – your genital region – is particularly susceptible to reacting badly to prolonged contact with moisture.”

This raises concerns about the potential for the fabric to harbor fungal or bacterial growth, posing a risk of infection.

“It is unlikely that you will develop any serious infection from such pathogens, even if they do exist. And this phenomenon is not exclusive to used clothes – research has found that any/all of these bugs can exist on new clothes.”

He also points out the idea that you could catch a sexually transmitted disease via swimsuits is a myth. 

The risk of falling ill from secondhand swimwear is generally low, especially when the items are thoroughly washed and cleaned according to proper hygiene practices.

Find out Is ARKET Ethical and Sustainable?

How do you disinfect a second hand swimsuit? 

To disinfect a thrifted swimsuit, start by checking the care label for cleaning instructions. Then, soak the swimsuit in lukewarm water with mild detergent or antibacterial solution for 15-30 minutes. 

On the same Independent article, Dr Sarah Brewer, medical nutritionist and brand ambassador for Origins recommends the first wash should be at 60C or above. 

“That’s because fungal spores – such as candida albicans, which causes thrush – aren’t killed at lower temperatures. This higher temperature will also kill scabies.”

“While I’d personally draw the line at wearing someone else’s secondhand underwear, I’d happily buy a secondhand swimsuit,” says Brewer.

Learn more about ethical shopping, read on: What’s the Difference Between Ethical and Sustainable Fashion?

How do you disinfect a new swimsuit?

Disinfecting a new swimsuit is crucial as it may have encountered bacteria or viruses during manufacturing or shipping. Taking the time to disinfect the swimsuit helps prevent the potential spread of infections and ensures hygienic use.

For optimal disinfection, utilize a gentle laundry detergent and incorporate approximately 1 cup of white vinegar during the wash cycle. 

The vinegar acts as a potent antibacterial and antiviral agent, effectively eliminating any potentially present bacteria or viruses on the fabric.

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