• Cleaning: 10 – 15 Minutes
  • Drying: 2 – 3 Hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Cost: Low

Swimming caps are essential swimming gear designed to keep your hair safe from the chlorine found in swimming pool water. They also help boost your visibility by keeping your hair out of your face, which may help avoid collisions with other swimmers in busy pools.

However, swimming caps tend to get dirty frequently as they are constantly in contact with hair. They also accumulate chlorine from pools and come in contact with oils from products used on hair. This and many other reasons like storage areas may cause swimming caps to develop mold over time.

The best way to clean your swimming cap is to first rinse it with fresh water, then spot-clean any dirt or mold visible, before hanging it to dry completely. You should then treat it with baby powder before placing it in proper storage. We’ll explore all of that and more in this guide!

1. Rinse With Fresh Water

To begin the cleaning process, you first need to rinse it with fresh water. You can use tap water or even bottled water, depending on whatever is available. However, be sure to use cold or room temperature water as hot water can break down your swim cap’s material and ultimately shorten its lifespan, as they are typically made of silicone, lycra, or latex.

While simple, this step is vital because it helps remove any chlorine or salt water left on or in your cap after your swim. Ideally, you should rinse your cap with cold water after each swim to prevent bacteria buildup.

2. Inspect For Dirt Or Mold

Next, inspect your swim cap and look for any dirt or mold on its surface. Dirt typically leaves brown or black streaks on the cap while mold appears as black spots. If you identify either of these on your cap, you will need to remove them through spot cleaning which we will cover in the next step.

3. Spot Clean Dirt Or Mold

If you spot any dirt or mold on your swim cap, there’s no need to dispose of it completely. This is because these contaminants can easily be removed using the right spot-cleaning methods. You can opt to clean dirt or mold with mild liquid dish soap, vinegar, or even borax. We’ll explain how to spot-clean your swim cap using each of these products below.

Using Mild Liquid Dish Soap For Stains And Dirt

The simplest way to remove stains and dirt from a swim cap is by using mild liquid dish soap. We recommend Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Dish Soap for this purpose. This dish soap is great because it is gentle on your swim cap’s material but is also effective at removing grease, stains, and other types of residue.

It is also made from natural plant-based ingredients, so you won’t need to worry about harsh chemicals damaging your swim cap.

Cleaning Instructions: 

Here’s how you can remove stains and dirt using liquid dish soap:

  1. First, fill up a bowl with 1 cup of cold or room-temperature water.
  2. Then, add 1-2 drops of liquid dish soap and mix to combine.
  3. Submerge your swim cap in the water and allow it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  4. If the stain persists, use a soft toothbrush to gently brush the stain away and repeat until the stain is gone. 
  5. Remove the swim cap from the bowl and rinse it with clean water from a tap or bottle.

Using Vinegar For Mold

Oftentimes, mold tends to grow on swim caps due to moisture left on the inside. This mold can irritate your skin so it is important to clean it off. One household ingredient that is incredibly effective at removing mold is vinegar.

Due to the fact that vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties, applying a small quantity of vinegar should be enough to get rid of the mold on your swim cap.

Cleaning Instructions:

Below, we provide a step-by-step guide on how to clean mold off your swim caps:

  1. Use a soft-bristle brush to brush off any visible mold from your swim cap.
  2. Place your swim cap in a basin and pour about a teaspoon of vinegar on any visible mold spots and allow the vinegar to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Separately, fill a bowl with 1 cup of cold or room temperature water and 2 teaspoons of vinegar. Stir to combine. 
  4. After 30 minutes, submerge the swim cap in the water and vinegar mixture and allow it to soak for another 15 to 30 minutes. 
  5. Once the mold has been fully removed, rinse the swim cap with clean water from a tap or bottle. Repeat steps 2 – 4 if necessary. 

Using Borax For Mold

Alternatively, you can also use borax to remove mold. Borax is a special compound that is often found in cleaning products and has a high pH, which helps to get rid of mold. It’s also easily found at most grocery stores, making it a convenient choice.

Cleaning Instructions:

Here’s how you can use borax to easily get rid of mold from your swim cap:

  1. Similar to the vinegar cleaning instructions, brush off any visible mold from your swim cap with a soft-bristle brush. 
  2. Then, fill a bowl with 1 cup of cold or room temperature water and 4 teaspoons of borax and mix until fully dissolved.
  3. Submerge the swim cap in this mixture and allow it to soak for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  4. If the mold has yet to be removed after soaking, you can take the soft-bristle brush and gently brush the solution onto the spot in a circular motion. Do this until the mold is completely gone. 
  5. Then, remove the swim cap and rinse it with clean water from a tap or bottle.

4. Hang To Dry Completely

Once your swim cap is completely clean, you should hang it up to dry. We recommend folding your swim cap in between face towels to soak up any excess moisture. This helps to quicken the drying process. 

However, you can also use a fan or a hairdryer on its cool setting to make the drying process faster as well. Avoid using a warm or hot setting when using a hairdryer, as this may melt and ultimately damage your swim cap. It’s important to ensure that your swim cap needs to be completely dry before proceeding to the next step.

5. Apply Some Baby Powder

Before placing your swim cap in storage, we recommend applying some baby powder inside your swim cap. What this does is it helps to absorb any moisture left inside the swimming cap and prevent its flaps from sticking together while in storage.

To apply the baby powder, you simply need to hold your swim cap open and sprinkle a small quantity of powder inside. Make sure to powder the entire inner surface of the swim cap. You can then leave your swim cap for 24 hours before using a brush to remove the excess baby powder from the inside.

6. Store It Properly

Now that the cleaning and drying processes are complete, you can place your swim cap in storage until you need it for your next swim. We recommend placing it in a cool and dry place so make sure it isn’t stored under direct sunlight or in a humid area. You can also choose to store it on a hat rack to help preserve its shape.

The Dos And Don’ts When Cleaning Swim Caps

Swim caps are made from a flexible material that also happens to be quite fragile. Such material can tear if it is handled incorrectly. For this reason, it is vital to know how to clean your swim cap properly if you want it to last for many months or even years. Below, you can find some important dos and don’ts to abide by when cleaning your swim cap.

  • Do Be Gentle When Cleaning – Avoid brushing or scrubbing your swim cap with force as this can tear its material. Even a tiny tear can spread and make your swim cap unusable, so it is best to be gentle during the cleaning process.
  • Rinse It Thoroughly – Rinsing your swim cap thoroughly ensures all the dirt, mold, and cleaning solution residue is washed off. Failing to rinse your swim cap properly can leave mold-causing contaminants or chemicals that could damage your swim cap.
  • Don’t Dry It Under Direct Sunlight – The material that swim caps are made from can degrade when exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods. For this reason, avoid leaving your swim cap in the sunlight to dry.
  • Don’t Wring Your Swim Caps – Avoid wringing swim caps as this action will stretch and can warp the material permanently.
  • Don’t Store Them When Wet – Storing your swim cap while it is wet will cause mold to develop. Therefore, you should ensure your swim cap is completely dry and treated with baby powder before placing it in storage.
  • Don’t Use Bleach To Remove Mold – Bleach is a very strong cleaner that will damage your swim cap material so we recommend avoiding it. Alternatively, we recommend using vinegar as it is less harsh but is still effective at removing mold.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve received a number of questions related to cleaning and maintaining swim caps over the years. Below, we answer some of the most commonly asked questions by our readers.

How Long Can Swim Caps Last?

Swim caps generally last anywhere from a few months to a few years depending on how often they are used and cleaned. If you use your swim cap daily then you may need to replace it sooner than you would if it’s used once or twice a month. 

A swim cap’s lifespan also varies depending on the water conditions it is used in. Swim caps used in chlorinated or saltwater tend to require more frequent replacements than swim caps used in freshwater.

Can I Wash My Swim Caps In The Washing Machine?

It’s not recommended to wash your swim caps in the washing machine as this can cause irreversible damage. Swim caps are quite fragile, and the harsh cleaning process of the washing machine may cause them to tear. So we highly recommend hand washing your swim caps instead.

Why Is My Swim Cap Sticky?

If your swim cap is sticky, it may indicate that it’s been left in a hot or humid environment. As mentioned, it’s recommended to avoid drying your swim cap under direct sunlight as it may cause it to break down and melt. Once your swim cap melts and becomes sticky, there’s no other choice but to replace it entirely. 

How Do I Know When It’s Time To Replace My Swim Cap?

You should replace your swim cap the moment you spot a hole or tear in its surface or any discoloration. Swim caps also get looser with each use. So you may reach a certain point where the material has stretched until it no longer provides a good seal around your head. If your swim cap no longer has a good seal, you should consider replacing it with a new one.

About Sirinan

Sirinan is a self-proclaimed cleanaholic and the editor-in-chief of Cleaney. Apart from coming with up creative ways to keep her living spaces clean and tidy, she loves to read on rainy days.