7 Ways to Wrangle Post-Beach Day Laundry, An Expert Shares

A day at the beach can be so fun and relaxing, but dealing with sandy, salty post-beach laundry can quickly dampen your mood. As an expert in laundry and fabric care, I’ve got some tried-and-true tips to make tackling beach day laundry a breeze. Follow these 7 expert-recommended ways to wrangle post-beach day laundry and restore your favorite beach essentials.

1. Shake Out Sand Immediately

As soon as you get home from the beach, shake out sandy beach towels, suits, hats, coverups, and blankets outdoors before bringing them inside. Giving fabrics a good shake and holding them up by the corners allows excess sand to fall right off before it gets ground into the fibers.

Do this shaking motion over a garbage can or bag so the sand doesn’t end up all over your floors and furniture. If sand has caked onto fabrics, give them a quick rinse with the hose outside as well. Getting rid of as much sand as possible right away prevents extra wear and tear on your washer.

2. Soak in Vinegar Water

Once beach items are freed of excess sand, let them soak in a bath of vinegar water before washing. This helps dissolve salty residue and other buildup like sunscreen that can stain fabrics.

Fill your tub or a bucket with warm water and 1-2 cups of white vinegar. Allow salty, sandy items to soak for 30-60 minutes, then wring them thoroughly before washing. The vinegar soak helps release deep-set grime.

I recommend this pre-wash soak for:

  • Sandy beach towels and blankets
  • Swimsuits and rash guards
  • Hats, visors, and sunglasses cases
  • Mesh/nylon beach bags
  • Sandy towels or blankets for pets

3. Wash in Cool Water

Washing your post-beach laundry in cool water helps prevent stains from setting and fading of swimwear. Hot water can actually bond salt, sunscreen, and other grime to fabric fibers.

Wash beachy fabrics separately from your regular laundry using the gentle or delicate cycle along with a mild detergent. I advise against using bleach since it can degrade stretchy fabrics in swimwear over time.

Set your machine to the highest spin cycle available to remove as much residual sand and saltwater as possible. You can also add a few towels to the cycle to help scrub off stubborn sand granules.

4. Use Color-Safe Bleach if Needed

For tough stains like grease, sweat, and sunscreen on white fabrics, adding an oxygen-based color-safe bleach can help remove buildup that regular detergent misses.

Look for color-safe bleaches containing sodium percarbonate or sodium perborate. Pre-treat heavily stained spots, then add the bleach to the wash cycle according to package directions.

Be mindful that it can lighten the color of fabrics over time. Test color-safe bleach first in an inconspicuous area and avoid using it on prints or delicate swim fabrics.

5. Disinfect with Borax

Since bathing suits and coverups come into close contact with your skin, it’s a smart idea to disinfect them after a beach day. This helps eliminate bacteria that can cause odors, stains and fabric degradation over time.

Add 1⁄2 cup of borax along with your usual detergent to kill bacteria and give fabrics a deep clean. For best results, use the hot water setting. Borax is an all-natural disinfectant safe for most fabrics.

6. Air Dry Thoroughly

Never put sandy beach items or swimsuits in the dryer! The sand can scratch the interior drum and get stuck in the dryer filter, causing damage over time. Chlorine in swimming pools and saltwater can also degrade elastic and accelerate deterioration of swim fabrics.

Instead, thoroughly air dry beach laundry on a drying rack or clothesline. Direct sunlight naturally helps bleach and disinfect fabrics as they dry. Check seams, creases, and closures for hidden sand before storing beach items away.

7. Maintain Swimsuits

Follow these extra tips to extend the life of swimwear and help fabrics retain their shape:

  • Hand wash suits in cool water after each wearing using a gentle cleanser. Dry flat.
  • Avoid puttng wet suits in beach bags or hampers where they’ll sit compressed for hours.
  • Use lubricating conditioner for swim fabrics after every 3rd wash, focusing on areas prone to sagging.
  • Rotate between multiple suits instead of wearing the same one repeatedly.
  • Store suits flat instead of hanging to prevent stretching of straps and necklines.

With my handy post-beach laundry tips, you can restore your favorite seaside garments and accessories to like-new condition. No more scratchy, salty towels or stinky, discolored suits! Let me know if you have any other beach laundry dilemmas I can help solve.

Frequently Asked Questions About Post-Beach Day Laundry

Laundering clothes, towels, and swimsuits after a beach trip comes with its own unique challenges. Here are some common FAQs about handling post-beach day laundry:

How do you get coarse beach sand out of clothes and towels?

Shake out items vigorously before washing. Soak in vinegar water first to help dissolve gritty sand particles. Wash in cool water on a gentle cycle with extra rinse cycles. Add towels to the wash to scrub off sand. Check seams before drying.

What is the best way to remove ocean saltwater smells?

Soak items in diluted vinegar before washing. Add borax or bleach alternative to the wash along with detergent. Wash in the hottest water safe for the fabrics. Make sure to thoroughly rinse out all detergent and additives. Air dry in the sun.

Why does beachwear fade faster than regular clothes?

The sun, saltwater, and chlorine are very damaging and can degrade dyes. Wash swimsuits in cool water with a color-protecting detergent. Avoid using bleach. Air dry suits inside out and away from windows to prevent sun exposure.

How do you disinfect bathing suits after wearing them?

Wash suits after each wear in hot water using detergent plus borax or bleach alternative. Dry thoroughly – bacteria thrive in damp environments. Store suits fully dry and allow 24 hours between wears. Rotate suits regularly.

Can you put a sandy beach towel in the dryer?

No, the sand can damage the dryer over time. Always air dry sandy items fully before placing in the dryer – check seams and pockets thoroughly. Shake out towels outside first.

Why shouldn’t you use fabric softener on swimwear?

The waxy coating left by softener and dryer sheets can degrade stretchy swim fabrics over time. Residual softener film also traps bacteria and odors. Softeners reduce absorbency of swimsuits and towels.

What’s the best way to clean stinky mesh beach bags?

Hand wash mesh bags inside out using a vinegar/water solution and gentle cleanser. Rinse thoroughly. Air dry fully in direct sunlight to disinfect and help eliminate odors from bacteria buildup.

How can you extend the lifespan of your swimsuits?

Rinse suits after wearing and air dry fully between wears. Hand wash gently after each use. Apply conditioner every few washes. Avoid hanging suits or pulling straps tight. Rotate suits regularly and don’t wear the same one repeatedly.


A day spent soaking up the surf and sand often leaves behind soggy, sandy laundry that seems impossible to restore. However, taking the right approach means you can easily resurrect your favorite beach essentials. Shake off excess sand immediately, soak in vinegar, wash separately in cool water, air dry fully, and take extra care with swimsuits. With this beach laundry 101, you’ll be prepared to clean even the sandiest, smelliest post-beach piles with ease.