The new year brings new fitness goals, and maybe even some cute new workout clothes to cheer you up on your way to achieving those goals. But with these goals comes a whole new problem: Your gym clothes have to be washed, they have to be washed in a very specific way to ensure they last a long time, and most importantly, they don’t smell out of place. Like last week’s spin class.
We consulted experts to ask about the do’s and don’ts of washing sportswear, from the correct washer settings to use to the best detergents for the job — and what to do about dreaded clothes. always thinking.
Cleaning your gym clothes as much as possible starts when you take off those sweaty clothes.
It’s a good idea, if your setup allows, to let the gym clothes dry before putting them in the laundry basket or laundry bag; When wet clothes sit in a pile, they develop bacteria that cause odors. A mesh laundry basket that allows air to circulate can also help dry damp clothes, preventing odor-causing bacteria from taking root in the fabric.
“To keep prints and colors vibrant, it’s a good idea to turn workout clothes inside out before washing,” says Jennifer Shevcic, VP of design at Fabletics. The interior of exercise equipment is also where body soil such as sweat and dead skin build up which contributes to odor buildup, so washing clothes from the inside out allows water and detergent to provide a deeper clean.
Do not wash gym clothes along with towels, heavy sweating, wool and other woven fabrics. “We recommend that you avoid washing exercise equipment along with products with coarser fabrics such as denim or clothing that has hardware such as zippers or Velcro,” Chevchek adds.
- Let sweaty clothes dry
- Turning the inside out
- Avoid washing sportswear along with heavy, textured or woven clothing
How to wash and dry sports clothes
Washing workout gear is easy, and a little more — you might be surprised to discover that the biggest mistake people make when washing gym clothes is using too much laundry detergent.
“We recommend machine washing in cold water with like colors,” Chevchek says. Use the gentle or delicate cycle, and don’t overfill the washer drum so the clothes have room to move around, allowing the water and detergent to fully penetrate the fibers.
When it comes to detergents, you don’t need a special product to wash your gym equipment – but it can be nice to have one. While the type of detergent you use is not important, how much detergent you use is being Importance. “Don’t use too much detergent!” Cheryl Nelson, a lifestyle expert who shares her preparedness tips on her website, Prepare With Cher, says. “Too much detergent makes it difficult to rinse your clothes well, which can lead to more sweat and fungus building up.” Excess detergent will leave product buildup that will contribute to lingering odors in clean clothes, and give your workout clothes a sloppy look.
Likewise, there are products that should be completely avoided when washing gym equipment. “Be sure to avoid fabric softener or bleach,” Chevchek says.
Chevchek recommends using a mesh underwear wash bag to extend the life of sports bras, adding that “removing cups from sports bras will also help maintain their shape and stay in shape.”
While machine drying isn’t the best choice for exercise equipment, it’s the one most people use and that’s okay — as long as you’re using the correct dryer settings. Always choose the low or no heat setting to help maintain flexibility and avoid odors. “Hot air, like hot water, can break the elasticity of the fabric, causing shrinkage and shortening the life of the garment,” says Nelson. “Hot air can also amplify odors.”
The experts we spoke with agree that air drying is the best option for gym clothes. “We recommend hanging or laying flat to dry. We also recommend keeping bright-colored fabrics separate when wet,” says Shevczyk, to avoid transferring dye and smudging from brightly colored clothes onto lighter colored items.
- Wash your gym clothes in cold water using the delicate or gentle cycle
- Put the sports bras into the protective mesh laundry bags
- Don’t use too much detergent
- Avoid using fabric softener or bleach
- Air dry or machine dry on low or no heat
HOW TO TREAT – AND AVOID! The damned “permanent vent”
If you’ve followed all of these guidelines, you’ll never have a problem with endoscopy—the term for having your freshly washed gym clothes smelling like last week’s workout. There are a few factors that contribute to workout clothes leaving the laundry less clean, and a simple way to fix them when they do.
“It’s important to avoid leaving wet, sweaty clothes in a bag for too long,” Shevchik says. “Letting your clothes dry after a workout is key to not letting bacteria build up.” Taking care not to use too much detergent and avoiding fabric softener and drying on high heat will also help ensure that product buildup on the clothes does not trap the smell.
Fabric softener is especially important to avoid when washing synthetic fibers. Chevchek explains that “most fabric softeners contain silicone, which can clog fine pores in the fabric and reduce its ability to block moisture. Also, using too much detergent can block clean water run-off and contribute to build-up on clothes.”
When a bad smell is caused by product buildup, Nelson offers this simple fix: “Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup distilled white vinegar to the laundry, and use half the amount of detergent.” The vinegar will help loosen build-up and eliminate odors stuck in the fibers, and since you’re trying to wash away excess detergent, you’ll only need half a regular dose to clean your clothes.
- To avoid lingering odors in clean clothes, do not use too much detergent
- Never use liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets when washing your workout gear
- Air dry or use a low heat drying cycle
- Use white vinegar in the washing machine to treat lingering odors