You’re proud of yourself for completing that Tabata class or that three-mile run– but your clothes stink! Just toss them in the washing machine and add a heap of detergent, and that should fix the problem, right? Not so fast. Your workout gear needs special treatment to prevent damage and eliminate odor. Keep reading to find out exactly how to wash workout clothes properly.
Immediately after your workout: remove clothes from your gym bag and allow them to air dry.
One of the top tips for washing activewear: never let your clothes sit in your gym bag for hours or days. That’s a perfect recipe for a sweaty, musty odor! As soon as possible, remove your clothes from your gym bag. If you’re still wearing your workout clothes, get changed as soon as possible.
Then, hang the clothing up in a well-ventilated area. You could hang them in an empty corner of an open walk-in closet, or use a clothesline or clothes rack.
Allowing your sweaty workout clothing to air out before washing them prevents bacteria buildup; bacteria is what causes smelly odors in the first place. If, however, you aren’t able to immediately air out your clothes, don’t worry! Kayla Itsines recommends zipping up your clothes in a large Ziploc bag, and placing them in the freezer for a few hours. The extreme cold will kill any bacteria lingering on your clothes.
Before washing: soak your clothes in vinegar and remove any buildup
If you find that your workout gear still smells sweaty even after it emerges from a full wash cycle, you might need to pre-soak your clothes before washing them. Luckily, white vinegar can eliminate any remaining odor-causing bacteria. Simply soak any extra-smelly clothing in a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts cold water. Allow them to soak for 15-20 minutes before tossing them in the wash.
In addition: do you find that your deodorant tends to build up in the underarm areas of your workout tops even after you wash gym clothes? There’s a DIY trick to remove that, too. Grab an old toothbrush and a small amount of detergent or soap, apply the soap to the shirt, and scrub that deodorant clean.
Once it’s time to wash your activewear:
Turn your clothes inside out
Why should you always wash workout gear inside out? It’s simple: the sweatiest parts of your workout clothes are the parts that touch your body, thus, the insides. In order to get those sweaty bits of your tops, bottoms, and socks nice and odor-free, be sure to turn them inside out before tossing them in the wash.
Don’t use too much detergent
You may have made the mistake of using more detergent than usual when you wash workout clothes, in the hopes that it will eliminate any smells. This may actually make the odor problem worse. How? Excess detergent can build up in the material, causing breeding grounds of bacteria to bloom– and we already know that an overpopulation of bacteria equals smelly clothes! Thus, when determining how to wash sportswear: always use the recommended amount of detergent, and no more. If you find that your clothes smell extra bad, you can even use half of the recommended amount of detergent, and add half a cup of white vinegar to the wash, as well.
Wash in cold water on the gentle cycle
Be sure to always wash your workout attire in cold water, never warm. Warm or hot water will shrink and damage the material. In addition, it may also cause your workout gear to lose elasticity. This means that tights may slide down your waist, socks may slip off during a workout, or sports bras may not fit properly anymore.
You should be sure to wash workout clothes only on a gentle cycle, as well. Most workout gear is made out of synthetic fabric, which the agitation of a normal cycle may damage.
Skip the fabric softener
You may be in the habit of tossing a little fabric softener in with your regular laundry, but don’t do this when you wash workout clothes! If you regularly wash workout clothes with fabric softener, you may notice that your clothes gradually become more and more smelly, as fabric softener makes them less resistant to odor.
After washing: allow clothes to air dry
Try not to toss your workout clothing straight into the dryer after washing. Using a dryer may damage the clothes’ elasticity, which, again, may lead to workout clothes not fitting properly; remember, workout attire is meant to stretch and move with you! If you work out often, you may want to invest in a clothes rack. If you don’t own one yet, again, try hanging clothes in a well-ventilated area of your home.
How to wash workout shoes?
This article mainly covered ideal washing habits of workout tops, bottoms, underwear and socks, but what about your shoes, you may ask? They get dirty, too!
The good news is that your tennis shoes, running shoes, or cross training shoes can go in the washing machine. First, be sure to wipe off any mud or dirt from your shoes. Then place the shoes in an old pillowcase, and tie the pillowcase shut. Wash your sneakers in cold water.
To dry your shoes, never put them in a dryer– this will damage them! Simply allow your shoes to air dry; to speed up this process, you might try stuffing them with old newspaper.
Workout clothes can be expensive, and so of course, we want to keep our favorite pieces looking (and smelling) brand new. Luckily, you likely have everything you need already to wash your workout clothes the right way! Be sure to bookmark this page, and return to it as soon as you return from your next hot yoga class so that you can take care of your cute sportswear properly.