How to Wash Your Workout Clothes 101
It may seem easier to just throw your dirty workout gear in the wash with the rest of your laundry, but this isn’t the best-case scenario. Your workout clothes are often made of moisture-wicking material (think spandex, polyester, etc.), and they require special care and attention.
Here are some top tips and tricks to keeping those workout clothes clean, fresh, and long-lasting.
1. Give your workout clothes a breather and let them air out – Whether your clothes are soaked from sweat or it’s not quite laundry day, it’s best to let that material sit for a bit. Instead of leaving your gear tossed on the floor or bundled up in a laundry basket, try hanging them somewhere (over a door frame, on a clothes rack) to prevent build-up of odor-causing bacteria.
2. Soak and rinse, depending on level of wear and odor – This applies to clothing that’s built up an odor over time and is in need of a good soak. And the magic ingredient? White distilled vinegar. This low-acidity product breaks through and releases the body oils, grime, and dirt from the fabric. Mix one part distilled vinegar to four parts cold water and let your clothes soak for about 15-20 minutes. Afterward, rinse the clothes off with regular water and either toss them in the washer or let them dry out before washing.
3. Turn your clothes inside out – Let’s be honest. The smell is coming from INSIDE THE CLOTHING. After your exercise, bacteria, sweat, and dead skin cells get caught in the fabric of your workout clothes, creating a breeding ground for odor. Turning your clothes inside out allows the detergent in the wash to get straight to the source. Not only will this technique more thoroughly clean your clothes, but it will keep those colors brighter, keep the moisture-wicking material flexible longer, and prevent any snags during the cycle.
4. Don’t use too much detergent – It may be tempting to dump a little extra detergent in when washing your sweaty gear, but this is actually counterintuitive. Too much detergent is bad for elastic, synthetic fibers typically found in workout clothes. It can also cause a buildup in the clothes that could trap body oils and odors, dead skin, and dirt, creating the perfect environment for unwanted bacteria.
5. Skip the fabric softener – Fabric softeners will only damage your moisture-wicking material by creating an environment that allows buildup and will trap odors. It’s also damaging to the flexible fibers in most workout clothes.
6. For an extra clean, add an odor-eliminator – Whether that’s adding a bit of all-natural vinegar to your load or some baking soda, or a store-bought one, this will boost the smell of your clothes (in a good way).
7. Wash on a cold, gentle cycle – Hot water will damage the fibers of your activewear and significantly shorten its lifespan. Wash in cool water on a gentle cycle to keep your clothes intact. Some washers may even have a sportswear mode.
8. Air dry, when possible – If you can, air dry your workout clothes. The heat from your dryer may alter the shape, performance, flexibility, and fit of your high-performance wear. If you have to dry your clothes in the dryer, use the lowest heat setting available.