Why You Shouldn’t Wear Normal Clothes in Swimming Pools


If you’re an avid pool-goer, you may have noticed that your local recreational pool has specific rules on what you can and cannot wear. Regarding this formal dress code, you will always find that street clothes are strictly forbidden. Why is that?

Normal clothes are not allowed to be worn in public pools because they absorb water and weigh swimmers down, which increases the chances of drowning. They are also detrimental to the pool water’s health, since clothing fibers can clog the filtration system and bring in external pollutants.

With all these negative effects, it’s fairly easy to comprehend why normal clothes should not be worn in public pools. Each of these negative effects will be discussed in greater detail below. Read until the end to find out what types of clothing fabrics are suitable for swimming in public pools.

Why Wearing Normal Clothes in Pools is Generally Prohibited

Most of you currently reading this have probably been to a pool at some point in your life. After all, swimming pools are the next best thing to the beach or the lake with respect to water-based activities.

That being said, you’ve probably noticed that public pools do enforce a particular dress code, whether it’s written or unwritten. These rules are enforced for good reason.

You can view the general clothing guidelines for public swimming facilities by clicking over to Dress Code for Public Swimming Pools (Easy Checklist).

If you’ve taken a closer look at these pool dress codes, you probably took note of one common denomination: proper swimwear is required to enter the pool water.

It appears to be a rather simple statement at first glance, but it’s loaded with many underlying tangential rules. This simple statement prohibits nude swimming, the use of revealing swimwear, and the use of normal street attire.

Truth be told, many people are under the impression that dressing in proper swimwear is merely meant for aesthetic purposes or promoting uniformity. This is far from the actual truth. They have been instituted to ensure your own personal safety, as well as the safety of the other people in the pool.

The exact details as to how wearing normal street clothes in pool water endangers people’s safety is analyzed below. After reading through these subsequent sections, you should have a thorough understanding of why normal street clothes aren’t allowed in public swimming facilities.

Normal Clothes Absorb Water & Weigh You Down

You may have noticed that swimwear dries much more quickly compared to normal street clothes. This phenomenon can be attributed to the types of clothing fabric used to design proper swimwear versus normal street clothes.

The types of fabric used for proper swimwear wick moisture away. Water beads off of the fabric, as opposed to being trapped within the fabric itself. These swimwear materials are far less absorbent than the clothing fabrics used for normal street attire.

Normal clothes, on the other hand, easily absorb water. In the presence of water, the fabric becomes completely drenched, which is why it dries up much slower relative to standard swimwear.

This can present a serious hazard to swimmers because all of this absorbed water can weigh a person down. It already takes a considerable degree of effort to stay above the water’s surface at the deep end of a pool. Burdening yourself with extra water weight adds another layer of difficulty that you don’t need, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer to begin with.

In severe cases, this extra water weight may even make a person more prone to drown. For less capable swimmers, there’s such a fine line between staying afloat and drowning that a small little factor like this can tip the balance. Consequently, public pool managers do away with normal street clothes in the water entirely.

Certain Clothing Materials Clog the Filtration System

Wearing normal clothes in the water may directly impact your safety by upping the risk of drowning, but it also indirectly impacts your safety by negatively influencing the condition of the pool water.

Keeping pool water at a safe, stable condition for swimmers is much harder than you think. With all the people constantly entering and exiting, there’s a high number of contaminants entering and leaving the pool as well. Pool maintenance workers must make sure the pool is safe for use at all times by monitoring chlorine concentrations and checking on the pool’s filtration system.

Even the slightest break from the normal swimming procedure can upset this delicate balance. A prime example of this is when a person decides to wear normal street clothes in the pool.

Swimming fabric is unlike any other in that the material does not fracture in the presence of water. With normal street clothes, tiny pieces of fabric break off in response to being drenched in pool water.

These seemingly insignificant clothing fragments can cause a blockage within the pool filtration system. As a result, this filter has trouble filtering out the impurities that the system was designed to extract, including (source):

  • algae
  • bacteria
  • natural debris

It is the goal of the pool maintenance crew and management team to keep everyone safe in the pool. For this reason, they pointedly stress that normal street clothes are forbidden. This way, the pool can be kept free of pollutants that may otherwise detract from other swimmers’ well-being.

Street Clothes Further Contaminate the Pool Water

Another factor that people typically do not think about is the sheer amount of contaminants your street clothes are exposed to on a daily basis. Your clothes are constantly coming into contact with harmful bacteria, viruses, and pathogens throughout the day.

Every time that you sit at your desk at school, use the break room table, or go to the restroom, your clothes are playing host to an unbelievable number of unseen, microscopic germs.

When you wear these same contaminated street clothes in a pool, you’re also taking these microscopic germs with you. Swimming pools may be treated regularly with chlorine, but this chlorine is not designed to fend off against so many contaminants at once. For this reason, more than a few of these contaminants will linger and potentially affect other swimmers within the pool.

By wearing swimwear that’s exclusively reserved for the pool, you limit the number of outside contaminants that accompany you in the water. It may seem tedious, but it’s a necessary safety precaution in the grand scheme of things.

Chlorine Causes Your Clothing Fabric to Appear Faded

As aforementioned, public pools are treated with high concentrations of chlorine to kill off bacteria, pathogens, and any other contaminants found within a pool.

While these chlorine levels do provide a number of health benefits to swimmers, these high chlorine levels may have an adverse effect on the fabric of normal clothes.

When dyed clothing experiences prolonged exposure to chlorine, the color tends to fade away. Since chlorine is a primary ingredient used in bleach, it’s no wonder that chlorine has a “bleach effect” on normal clothing (source). Clothes do tend to fade over time, but constant exposure to pool water will rapidly accelerate this process.

To make matters worse, chlorine also gradually weakens the integrity of your clothes. It compromises the fibers of clothing strands, to the point of fracture (source). The longer your street clothes are exposed to chlorine, the worse this problem becomes.

So if you like a particular outfit, don’t expose it to the high levels of chlorine within public pools! Follow the dress code rules and wear swimwear that’s meant for a pool environment.

Clothing Materials that Fare Well in Swimming Pools

Now that we’ve established that normal clothes shouldn’t be worn in public swimming pools, you might be wondering what kind of materials comply with basic pool dress code. In most cases, the most prominent types of swimming fabrics are polyester and nylon (source).

Polyester Fabric

Polyester is one of the most common materials used for swimwear. The reason why this material is so prevalent in the swimsuit industry is its long-lasting durability.

You can expect swimwear made from polyester fabric to last for a considerable time after purchase. It can endure the toughest of conditions when you’re out swimming in a closed water environment, like a pool, or an open water environment, like the ocean.

Aside from its durability, polyester is terrific at holding its color, which is a much-needed attribute when dealing with regular chlorine exposure. Without this functionality, your swimsuit’s color will eventually become faded. Not to mention that polyester can fend off the harmful UV rays from the sun.

Plus, polyester doesn’t absorb water nearly as much as regular clothing fabric. You can expect to navigate through the swimming pool with absolute freedom without being weighed down by the water.

Nylon Fabric

Nylon swimwear is also an excellent choice because of its durability. It’s also quite resistant to shrinkage, which means that you won’t have to worry about your swimsuit not fitting after repetitive washing.

In terms of absorbency, nylon swimwear holds a slight edge over polyester swimwear since nylon tends to take in slightly less water. Nylon swimsuits also don’t hold water for very long, drying up much faster in comparison to other types of fabrics.

While nylon may be superior to polyester when it comes to water absorbency, it’s not as resistant to chlorine and UV radiation compared to polyester. So if you’re trying to decide between a polyester swimsuit or a nylon swimsuit, it’s important to keep these ideas in the back of your mind.

Sources: 1 2 3 4

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of HydroPursuit. I enjoy kicking back and getting out on the water as much as I can in my free time.

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