With spring break on the horizon and summer not far behind (yay!), bathing suit season will be here before you know it. Finding the perfect swimsuit can be challenging, to say the least — not to mention expensive. So rather than put yourself through having to replace your suits every season, make them last. How? It’s all in how you care for them. We turned to Sabra Krock, owner of swim mega-retailer Everything But Water (they have over 100 stores nationwide), to get the scoop on how you should really care for your suits.

Brit + Co: What exactly is the best way to wash your swimsuit?

Sabra Krock: Swimsuits should be washed as soon as possible after wear, even if you have not gone into the water — but especially if you’ve gone into chlorine or salt. Suntan lotions and other oils can damage swimwear so to maintain their beauty and longevity they should be washed right away. They should be hand-washed in cold water, never in a machine, with a gentle cleaner formulated for the special fibers of a swimsuit. No, do not use Woolite — it can damage Lycra. Everything But Water sells our own cleaner and protector specifically for this purpose! In a pinch, use baby shampoo.

B+C: How often should you wash with a cleanser? Can you just rinse with water?

SK: You should really use a cleaner formulated to remove sunscreen, chlorine, and salt after every use.

B+C: Is it bad to wring out your swimsuit?

SK: Yes. Gently press the water out of your suit — never wring — and lay flat out of sunlight to dry.

B+C: How can you make your swimsuits last a long time?

SK: If you wash as per the instructions above and take care to never put your suit in a washing machine or dryer, a good quality swimsuit will last for many years. Take care also to sit on a towel alongside the pool to avoid catching your suit on concrete and risk having it pill.

B+C: Any other swimwear tips to keep in mind?

SK: Invest in a great swimsuit. We believe very much in buying quality and enjoying it for many years to come. That’s why we created a cleaner and protector — because caring for swimwear is a fundamental part of making your investment last.

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(Photos via Everything But Water)