Should You Wear Polyester in The Pool? Everything You Need to Know

When planning to go swimming (and, thereby, picking a swimsuit/swim apparel)  one has to consider what is proper swim apparel (i.e., swimsuit/swimwear). The options available are seemingly endless and can be dizzying. Not to mention, many public pools have rules/regulations regarding appropriate swim attire (i.e., what’s allowed and not allowed to be worn). Most public pools do not allow the wearing of everyday (“street”) clothes for health and safety reasons. 

If one is not properly dressed for the [public] pool, indeed, they can be denied entry and/or asked to remain out of the water.

Thus, it is safe to say that most anyone enjoys finding the perfect swimsuit- you know the one- it has the perfect color and pattern and will hold up well [in the water], especially after several hours in the water. 

Polyester is a very common fabric used in making clothes today (i.e., “street clothes”) mostly because of its durability and ability to resist fading- it’s a long-lasting fabric. Thus, one may be wondering if polyester can be worn in the pool. 

Yes! You can, indeed, wear polyester in the pool. In fact, swim apparel made from a polyester blend is one of the best options to wear in the pool. A polyester blend will resist the chlorine (i.e., maintain its color longer/won’t fade as quickly; colorfast),  hold its shape, resist abrasion and pilling (i.e., the fuzzball look), and have a soft and comfortable fit/feel. 

While a polyester blend is a great choice for swim apparel (your swimsuit), 100% polyester swim apparel/swimsuits may not be such a great choice. One hundred percent polyester swim apparel/swimsuits are not very breathable, the seams (which are often rough), fibers, fastenings, and thread can all be irritating (i.e., itchy), especially if you have highly sensitive skin. 

11 Reasons Why Polyester Is Suitable to Be Worn in Pools?

Here are some things that polyester (or, more accurately, a polyester blend) is and does that make it suitable to be worn in the pool (and, thereby, why it’s a great choice for swim apparel/swimsuits).

1- Polyester is Chemical Resistant 

Pools, particularly public pools, regularly use chlorine to keep the water free of harmful bacteria and algae. Chlorine is not the only chemical used to keep pool water safe and “clean”.  Many clothing materials suffer adverse effects when they come in contact with chemicals, especially many chemicals at once. Polyester, however, is quite resistant to chemicals. Thus, one can wear polyester in the pool without the clothing being harmed by the different chemicals used in the pool water. 

2- Polyester is Soft and Comfortable 

A swimsuit should be and feel comfortable while being flattering to the individual. When blended with elastane (better known as Lycra and/or Spandex)a polyester (i.e., polyester blend) swimsuit maintains its shape while having a softness to it. Thus, it has a soft and comfortable fit making it a perfect choice for the pool (or beach). 

3- Polyester is UV Resistant 

Ultraviolet rays (UV rays) have been shown to have several harmful effects (not just on hot and sunny days, but on an overcast and/or cool days too)- not only on hair and skin but on clothing as well. Thus, particularly if you are swimming outdoors, one will want their swim apparel/swimsuit to possess this quality. Polyester is very resistant to UV rays, thus, it is one of the best fabrics for swim apparel. 

4- Polyester has Stretch Options: 2 Way and/or 4 Way 

Typically, for swimwear, polyester is blended with a stretchy fabric such as Lycra/Spandex (elastane). This blend is what gives it its stretchiness. Depending on what exactly the polyester is blended with the swimsuit will have either a 2-way (from edge to edge)  or a 4-way stretch ( edge to edge as well as along the length of the grain). This 2-way or 4-way stretch is part of what makes a polyester swimsuit comfortable and a great choice for the pool (or beach). 

5- Polyester has Good Breathability/is (relatively) Breathable 

Polyester is not as breathable as natural fibers, but it breaths well enough that one’s polyester blend swimsuit will be comfortable. Because polyester blend swimsuits are still breathable, they are suitable for the pool or the beach. 

6- Polyester is Highly Durable 

One’s swimsuit needs to be durable, especially if they are swimming regularly/consistently (i.e., often/a lot). Unlike some other fibers, polyester is very durable and not easily ruined by water (or chemicals). Thus, a polyester swimsuit can be worn in the pool regularly and it will hold up well. 

7- Polyester is Easy to Clean 

Polyester does not absorb stains (i.e., stains don’t soak into polyester) as it is stain resistant. Because of this stain-resistant quality, polyester is extremely easy to clean (one of the easiest, in fact).  Another quality that makes the case for polyester (polyester blend) swim apparel. 

8- Polyester is Resistant to Pilling

Pilling, that fuzzball appearance that clothing can get, is never flattering. A quality swimsuit should resist pilling. Luckily, polyester is resistant to pilling. Thus, a polyester swimsuit is great not only for the pool but also for the ocean, particularly for those that partake in water sports such as surfing. 

9- Polyester Dries Quickly 

If you swim regularly, you’ll want a swimsuit that dries quickly. Thus, your swimsuit will need to be made from material that dries quickly. Polyester, a synthetic fabric, dries quite quickly. One can wash, rinse, and dry their polyester (polyester blend) swimsuit (i.e., make it ready for their next swim) in a matter of just a few hours. 

10- Polyester is lightweight

A swimsuit should be lightweight so that it is not uncomfortable and/or does not weigh a swimmer down. Polyester is lightweight with a bit of a silky feel to it. This is another thing that makes polyester a great choice for the pool (or beach). 

11- Fade Resistant 

Polyester is a synthetic fabric that is resistant to fading. Though most pools have several chemicals in the water to keep it sanitary, polyester fibers will not fade when exposed to those chemicals (even if regularly).

Also, polyester won’t bleed in the water as some other fabrics may (e.g., nylon). Being UV-resistant also helps polyester resist fading. This fade-resistant quality is the last thing on our list that makes polyester okay to be worn in pools (or at the beach). 

As we can see polyester fabric has many pros (and very few cons). It is one of the best fabrics (materials) that a swimsuit (swim apparel) can be made out of. Furthermore, because polyester has different characteristics than other fabrics it is allowed in [public] pools.

Though polyester is allowed in [public] pools, and is, in fact, a great choice for one’s swimsuit material, it is important to note that 100% polyester is not ideal for swimming. The best polyester swimsuits will be a polyester blend (i.e., polyester and a stretchy fabric such as lycra/spandex/elastane). (Source A) (Source B)

Can Polyester Be Used for Swimming?

Swimsuits are made from many different materials. The choices range from spandex to polyester to polyester blends (a mix of polyester and stretchy fabric such as spandex) and nylon- even nylon blends.  With all the different material options out there, picking the best swimsuit material can be tricky (a little daunting, even). 

Selecting the best swimsuit material for you and your needs will make a difference in your swimsuit’s longevity (durability) and comfort. The selection of one’s swimsuit should be reflective of one’s goal as a swimmer- do you need the best fit, durability (longevity), stretch, or a combination thereof? One’s budget will also be a factor in determining the best swimsuit material for them. As such, one may be wondering if polyester can be used for swimming (i.e., swimsuits/swim apparel). 

Over the past couple of years, polyester has become a popular material choice for swimsuits (swim apparel), particularly in the world of competitive swimming. Polyester swimsuits are known for being durable (i.e., they last a long time) and chemical-resistant (they won’t fade as quickly, even with being in the water regularly). Also, polyester swimsuits hold their shape and help protect against UV rays.   

Some characteristics of polyester and polyester blend fabric(s) that make it(them) suitable for swimming include 

  • Strong, resilient fibers 
  • Soft and comfortable fit
  • Durable (longevity)
  • Abrasion/pilling resistant (snag-resistant)
  • Dries Fast 
  • Chlorine Resistant
  • UV Resistant
  • Holds its shape (resistance to shrinkage)
  • Breathes well 
  • 2-way or 4-way stretch
  • Easy to clean + care for/maintain 
  • Lightweight
  • Matte finish (i.e., it isn’t shiny/doesn’t have a sheen) 
  • Repels water (hydrophobic) 

Selecting the best swimsuit can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when looking at swimsuits to make your selection process a little easier. 

  1. Is the material chlorine-resistant? (remember, polyester is chlorine-resistant)
  2. Does the fabric composition contain Nylon, Elastane, or Lycra/Spandex? (if so, fading will most likely occur sooner vs later when used in chlorinated and/or salty waters) 
  3. Does the fabric provide UV ray protection? (polyester has a UPF rating of 50+. This means it provides the highest level of UV protection- blocking over 97.5% of UVA and UVB radiation.)

A polyester or polyester blend swimsuit can be a little more expensive up-front, but, due to its durability under nearly all conditions, it’s more cost-effective in the long run (especially for those involved in competitive swimming/triathlon or other water sports-i.e., that are in the water regularly). (Source A) (Source B)

Can I Wear a Polyester Shirt in The Pool?

Not everyone that goes swimming likes to bear so much skin. Some prefer to cover up a bit more; typically, by wearing a shirt (t-shirt). But, for health and safety reasons, clothes of certain materials (i.e., most “street clothes”/regular t-shirts) are not allowed (i.e., they’re banned) at public pools. With that in mind, one is probably wondering what kind of shirt, then, could they wear to cover-up?  Or, more specifically, if they can wear a polyester shirt [to cover up] in the pool? 

Though one’s everyday clothes (“street clothes”) may be banned from public pools, there are still suitable options out there. Also, find out “Can You Wear a Rash Vest in a Swimming Pool & the Ocean? Complete Guide!

In fact, there are shirts designed specifically for this- they are called swim shirts. 

Most swim shirts are made from lycra, nylon, polyester, and/or spandex as the materials tend to do well in pool water.  Namely, these materials do not absorb water (unlike materials such as cotton, denim, flannel, and wool), and, thus, do not weigh a swimmer down (like one’s everyday clothes would). 

While swim shirts can be made from lycra, nylon, polyester, or spandex.

The most popular fabric choice is generally polyethylene terephthalate (PET)(a polyester blend material). This synthetic material can be used for anything from swimwear to polo shirts.

The softness of this material makes it very comfortable lending to it being a great material choice for a swim shirt. 

So, if you are one that prefers to wear a shirt when you go to the pool, a polyester (polyester blend) swim shirt can be worn in the pool. In fact, a polyester blend is one of the best materials that can be used for a swim shirt. (Source A)

Does Chlorine Affect Polyester?

As warmer temperatures start moving in (i.e., as summer nears) many will start looking for new swim apparel (i.e., a swimsuit). When looking for swim apparel (a swimsuit) one will want to consider not only the design, color, and shape of the suit but the material as well. Concerning the material, one will want to be aware of the health effects that some materials can have on the skin, particularly when in the heat and/or salty or chlorinated waters. 

Most pools, whether they are indoor or outdoor, use chlorine to keep the pool water sanitary (i.e., free from bacteria and algae) so that it is safe for swimming. How much chlorine is used in a pool depends on its size and how much water it is filled with.  Many already know that while chlorine has its benefits it also has some downsides. 

One of the chlorine’s downsides is its harsh effects on fabrics. It often causes fading and breakdown of the fibers which, ultimately, results in a swimsuit that has lost its shape (i.e., a swimsuit that doesn’t fit well) and color. Thus one may be curious if chlorine affects polyester like it does other materials. 

Polyester is chlorine-resistant, and, as such, chlorine has minimal, if any, effect on polyester or polyester blend swimsuits (swim apparel). A microfiber polyester (polyester blend/PBT) swimsuit is not only resistant to chlorine, and, thereby, fading, but it is also hydrophobic (i.e., it won’t absorb water) and dries fast. 

Ultimately, the effect that chlorine has on one’s swimsuit, and thereby, the life of one’s swimsuit depends on the care one takes of it. You’ll want to be sure you gently wash your suit with mild soap (i.e., a baby soap) and lukewarm or cold water, and then let it air dry or tumble dry/”air fluff” on a very low heat setting after each swim. (You’ll probably want to have a couple of swimsuits, at least, if you are in the pool regularly so that your suits can fully dry before you wear them again.) (Source A) (Source B)

What Fabric Is Allowed in Pools?

As we mentioned earlier in this article, most public pools have rules and regulations regarding appropriate (and not appropriate) swim apparel (swimsuits). And, believe it or not, while the exact guidelines may vary just a little from one pool to another, they strictly enforce those [respective] rules and regulations. 

Those that fail to comply with a public pool’s guidelines (rules/regulations) for swim apparel (swimwear/swimsuits) are, most often, prohibited from using the pool. This is done to keep the pool water sanitary. And, right about now, one may be wondering something to the effect of- what fabric types/materials are allowed in pools then? 

When choosing swim apparel/your swimsuit, you’ll want to consider that public pools put in place and enforce the rules and regulations regarding clothing to ensure the safety of swimmers and the water. So, you’ll want to assure the fabric will be safe for the pool water (i.e., that it will fall within the rules and regulations for the pool you are swimming at).

So, then, if our everyday clothes are not allowed in pools, what are the fabric types that are allowed in pools? The materials that are going to be allowed in pools will be synthetic (human-made) versus natural (i.e., cotton, wool, etc.). Here are some fabrics that are allowed in pools

  • Lycra/Spandex (elastane): While lightweight and stretchy these materials do not hold up to the chlorine. The chlorine breaks down the fibers, destroying their elasticity, and making them dry. This leads to the suit losing its shape.  
  • Nylon: Though this material does dry fast, it does not hold up well to UV rays or chlorine. Thus, swimsuits made of nylon will fade rather quickly (usually within one year if swimming in a pool regularly). 
  • Polyester: Polyester is a very popular choice for swim apparel (swimsuits) these days. It is hydrophobic so it absorbs very little water. It also offers a UPF rating of 50+, thereby protecting you from UVA and UVB rays. While polyester does offer more resistance to the harmful effects of chlorinated and salty water, chlorine and sunshine will still cause fading eventually. (Just later rather than sooner.) (Source A)(Source B)

Can Polyester Go in Saltwater?

Polyester blend swimsuits (i.e., swimsuits that are a blend of polyester and stretchy material such as lycra/spandex/elastane, or nylon) are the most durable. And, as we’ve read here, polyester is very popular due to its chlorine- and water-resistant properties (i.e., concerning chlorinated water, polyester blends are durable and hold their color well). As such, one may be curious if polyester can go in salty water, or if saltwater has an effect on polyester. 

While Saltwater doesn’t cause a breakdown in the material fibers like chlorine does, it can cause colors to fade.  So, yes, polyester can go in saltwater. Just keep in mind that while it won’t affect the shape of the suit, it can cause fading over time; so, it will lose its (vivid) color over time (i.e., with regular swims in saltwater). (Source

Is Nylon or Polyester Better for Swimwear?

By and large, polyester(polyester blend) seems to be the more popular material among the two- nylon(nylon blend) and polyester(polyester blend). But, does that mean that polyester (polyester blend) is better for swim apparel (swimwear/swimsuits) than nylon(nylon blend)?  

Nylon (and nylon blend)  is comparable to polyester (polyester blend) concerning cost and dry times- both are inexpensive materials and both dry more quickly than other materials such as cotton or wool. It is also lightweight (much like polyester). However, nylon does not stand up well to UV rays. As such, when nylon is exposed to UV rays, over time, the colors of the swimsuit fabric will fade and its elasticity will lessen. 

In fact, nylon and polyester have remarkably similar qualities when combined with stretchy materials such as lycra/spandex/elastane. While polyester is the seemingly more popular choice with nylon being a close second, let’s take a look at how each material performs concerning swimsuits. 

  • Nylon (also known as Polyamide)
    • Water-resistant and dries quickly
    • Typically found in fashion swimwear type swimsuits as it is a super comfortable fabric to wear
    • Soft with a slightly glossy sheen
    • When mixed with elastane nylon can be form-fitting, which can help one appear more shapely
      1. Pros: Durable, launders easily, soft and comfortable, high elasticity 
      2. Cons: Not UV resistant, does not hold up to chlorine
  • Polyester 
    • Soft material and extremely durable 
    • Dries quickly 
    • Can withstand regular exposure to chlorinated water (Resists fading/longevity)
    • UV Resistance
      1. Pros: Durable, UV- and chlorine-resistant (won’t fade), hold its shape well over time, launders easily, hydrophobic (moisture resistant/doesn’t absorb water)
      2. Cons: quality could suffer depending on the specific blend of polyester, not environmentally friendly/sustainable

As we can see both nylon and polyester have their pros (and cons). They’re quite comparable, in fact. Nylon has become quite popular for swim apparel (swimsuit) material- whether it’s for lounging by the pool or on the beach. But, probably because it does not hold up to chlorine or UV rays (i.e., it isn’t as durable), nylon is still not as popular as polyester. Polyester, due to its durability and colorfastness, is still one of the most popular fabrics for any type of apparel, but particularly for swim apparel (swimsuits).

Polyester, or rather, polyester blend, swimsuits are especially popular amongst competitive swimmers. As such, a swimsuit made from polyester or a polyester blend is the most likely to be seen in the pool or on the beach. (Source A) (Source B

Melissa Frank

My passion, outside of animals, is helping people and adding value to their lives…I strive to leave the world a little better than I woke to it each day. The first part of my career, for a total of about 15 years, was spent in the public safety field as a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT-B and 9-1-1 Operator. In 2019 I obtained my personal trainer certification (ACE certified) as well as many group fitness certifications and certification as a Corrective Exercise Specialist.

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