Swim caps are an essential item for swimmers of all skill levels and ages. Not only do they help streamline the head for increased efficiency in the water, but they also hold back hair, keep the scalp protected, and lock in small amounts of heat for a comfortable swim in any environment. But, because of bad habits and poor post-swim care, many quality swim caps peter out well before their time. If you find yourself replacing your cap more often than you’d like, perhaps you’re not taking the proper steps to ensure your swim cap’s longevity. Check out the short swim cap care guide below and see how you can save time and money by properly caring for a quality swim cap.
One of the most important – and not to mention easiest – things you can do to keep your swim cap going strong is to rinse it with fresh water after each and every swim. No matter if you train in chlorinated water, salt water, or even fresh water, it’s always a good idea to rinse your cap after your workout. Why rinse with fresh water? Minerals and additives found in water, such as salt or chlorine, can break down even the sturdiest materials over time. These chemicals attack silicone, latex, rubber, nylon and even neoprene to their cores. Rinsing a cap will help wash away these potentially-threatening chemicals and will help your cap retain its natural elasticity and strength.
After you’re done rinsing your cap with fresh water, be sure to properly dry the cap, both the inside and out, before tossing it into your gear bag. While most materials are mold and bacteria resistant, ensuring that your gear is dry before storing it will help it keep all harmful growths at bay. This is especially important for latex swim caps. Fully drying a latex swim cap will prevent the inside surfaces from sticking to one another. Porous materials such as Lycra and neoprene caps should be hung to dry. To ensure that any material cap is fully dry when in storage, try sticking a small towel within the cap to help keep it protected in your bag. Or, bring along a bottle of baby powder and sprinkle a bit inside your rubber, latex, or silicone cap before storing. This will help absorb any remaining water residue and keep your cap stretchy and malleable.
Direct sunlight is one of the biggest contributors to swim gear break down. It’s important to keep all your swim gear, especially your swim cap, away from direct sunlight when not in use. After rinsing and drying your cap, be sure to store it in your swim gear bag or any where else shaded from harsh UV light. Because most swimmers’ bags typically house a multitude of training products, you might want to keep your swim cap tucked away in a special compartment. This will help protect it from sharp items and keep it intact for longer periods of time.
Even when you take all the necessary steps to keep your cap looking great, accidents can always happen. That’s why it’s recommended that you always have at least one extra cap on hand during any race day or training session. While swim caps are made from high quality, durable materials, rips, snags, and tears can always occur. You’ll be able to keep a level (and streamlined!) head when you have a spare cap on hand.