What Not To Wear in a Pool

Take a peek into the history of swimwear, and you’ll see it’s changed a lot! Swimwear isn’t only fashionable and a great way to express yourself: It’s also designed with comfort and safety in mind. That said, there are things you shouldn’t wear in a pool.

In a pool, you should not wear baggy clothes or those made of heavy materials like denim and wool. These materials absorb and hold water, making it difficult to swim and float. Also, most everyday clothes can damage a pool due to the debris and chemicals that come with them.

Read on to know more about what not to wear to a pool, and what to wear instead. I’ll also talk about other things you need for a great swimming experience overall.

Why You Should Not Wear Certain Items in a Pool

In general, you shouldn’t wear baggy and dense clothing in a pool. These items include, but are not limited to:

  • Leggings
  • T-shirts
  • Pants
  • Joggers
  • Athletic shorts
  • Coats
  • Jeans

If you’re swimming in a community pool, there are likely to be regulations on the type of clothes you can and cannot wear. The reasons you can’t wear the above named pieces of clothing are as follows.


Swimwear is designed to be lightweight and to dry quickly. On the other hand, most “normal” clothes absorb water and make it difficult to move freely and stay afloat. When this happens, not only will you get pulled down, but you’ll also tire more quickly as you work against the pull, increasing your risk of drowning. Even good swimmers can drown if they swallow enough water or are fatigued. 

If you’re having a hard time swimming, you could inadvertently impact the safety of those swimming near you as well. After all, they’re going to have to pull you to safety and endanger themselves in the process. 

Pool Functioning and Health

Swimming pools are constantly exposed to contaminants from people (due to their bodily fluids getting into the water) and clothes (due to loads of chemicals used to treat them). 

That’s why swimming pool personnel need to perform constant and consistent maintenance for all swimmers’ safety. 

Specifically, they monitor chlorine concentrations and check the filtration system throughout each day of use. However, there’s only so much chlorine and filtration systems can do to keep out contaminants — like those from clothes, for example.

Think about anything going through a dryer and what it leaves behind in the lint trap. Normal clothes “shed,” and if you put them in the swimming pool, they can contribute to clogging up the filtration system.

Also, you bring residual pollutants to the water on your clothing. Normal clothes are exposed to the environment, picking up bacteria, viruses, and pathogens from whatever they come into contact with. These pathogens can come from restrooms, public seats, etc. 

Chlorine alone is not strong enough to fight off all of these contaminants. Likewise, when the filtration system doesn’t work properly, it makes the water more vulnerable to algae, bacteria, and other debris. Therefore, wearing normal clothes in a pool compromises every swimmer’s safety due to the debris and microorganisms that stick to those clothes.

Damage to Clothing

Using normal clothes in a pool doesn’t only harm other swimmers; it also harms the clothes themselves. Chemicals in pools (e.g., chlorine) can fade the dyes and colors in the fabric of normal clothes. The chlorine also breaks down the fibers, weakening them enough to fall apart at the seams or make them more prone to wear and tear.

What You Can Wear in a Pool

Swimwear is specially designed for use in pools and other bodies of water. The fabric used to make swimwear wicks moisture away from it (as opposed to other fabrics that absorb moisture), allowing swimwear to dry much faster. 

Swimwear styles may come in any of the following styles:

  • One-piece
  • Two-piece
  • Skirted bottoms
  • Swim shorts
  • Trunks
  • Briefs

You can also use wetsuits, which are typically thicker but don’t absorb water as easily as the above. 

If you don’t want to show too much skin, you can buy leggings and long-sleeved tops that are safe for use in pools. In fact, competitive swimmers often wear full-body swimsuits to stay warm in cold ocean temperatures.

Swimwear Material

Generally, swimwear is made of polyester and nylon and is form-fitting for your safety. Both of these materials have properties that boost their ability to wick away moisture, protect you from the elements, and keep everyone in the pool safe.


Polyester is a highly durable material, making it more cost-efficient (since you don’t have to replace your swimwear as often). It can withstand the otherwise damaging effects of chlorinated water or saltwater. Also, polyester retains its color well, protects your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays, and isn’t likely to become water-laden. 


Like polyester, nylon is a highly durable material. It’s shrink-resistant, meaning it will hold up well after multiple items of washing. Nylon doesn’t absorb water easily and dries faster than other fabrics, reducing the likelihood of it becoming waterlogged after use. 

However, nylon isn’t as resistant to damage from chlorine or sun exposure as polyester. Its color can fade more rapidly, warranting a replacement sooner than you like. It also doesn’t offer protection from ultraviolet rays, so if you’re going to swim outdoors in nylon swimwear, it’s best to put on pool-safe sunscreen for extra protection.  

What To Bring When You Swim

Now you know what you should wear when swimming. It’s also important to bring other essentials to the pool such as:

  • Towels. Look for towels that are great for pool use and dry quickly. For example, the Flow Microfiber Quick-Dry Swim Towel from Amazon.com is made from a polyester and nylon microfiber blend for faster drying. Different colors and sizes are available, making it easier to fit the towel to your personal preferences.
  • Goggles. Although you don’t necessarily need goggles, they help with underwater visibility. Also, they can keep chlorine out of your eyes.
  • Water-Friendly Footwear. Flip-flops and other water-resistant shoes can protect your feet from poolside germs and hot swimming pool tiles.
  • Water Bottle. Swimming expends a lot of energy, after all. Even though you’re in the water, you can still be dehydrated since you can’t drink pool water. Instead, drink clean water from your water bottle.
  • Toiletries. If swimming somewhere other than your home pool, you might want to bring the likes of shampoo, conditioner, body soap, and lotion. All of these can keep chlorine off your body — not to mention hydrate your hair and skin.
  • Sunscreen. If your swimwear doesn’t cover all of your skin, protect it with water-resistant sunscreen to stay safe under the sun’s rays.


Overall, you shouldn’t wear everyday clothing to swimming pools. Not only can it put you in danger of drowning, but you can also risk the safety of other swimmers in the pool with you. Instead, wear swimwear that wicks away moisture, is made out of polyester or nylon and has form-fitting, quick-drying, and lightweight properties.


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