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While activewear made from performance fibers is ideal for exercising, it can trap bacteria that causes odors in sports bras, yoga pants, and other types of workout clothes.
We spent hours researching laundry detergents that promise to remove odors and protect the finishes of performance fabrics, assessing formulation, effectiveness, and value. Our top pick, the Hex Performance Fragrance-Free Laundry Detergent, is biodegradable and safe for use on synthetic nylon, cotton, and even wool.
Here are the best detergents that will eliminate odors once and for all.
Best Overall: HEX Performance Advanced Laundry Detergent, Free + Clear
One of the best detergents to cut through tough grime, sweat, and odors is the HEX Performance Advanced Laundry Detergent. The unscented formula is eco-friendly, yet it works wonders on smelly, sweaty clothing.
This detergent comes in 32 ounce containers, and its special formula actually eliminates odors instead of simply masking them—even on synthetic fabrics. It also effectively eliminates stains, and the formula works with all temperature cycles and in high-efficiency washing machines. Plus, the detergent contains no dyes, fillers, perfumes, optical brighteners, or phosphates.
Once you try HEX Performance Laundry Detergent, you’ll never go back to regular detergent. Many buyers say it’s a total game-changer for workout and athletic clothing, as it removes all traces of sweat odors and leaves garments looking and smelling clean.
Best Laundry Booster: OxiClean Odor Blasters Odor & Stain Remover Laundry Booster
You can give your laundry detergent a helping hand at eliminating odors and stains with the OxiClean Odor Blasters Laundry Booster. You can use it either as a pretreatment for smelly clothes, in the wash along with your detergent, or both.
The OxiClean Odor Blasters Booster comes in a 40.5-ounce bottle, and the formula is specially designed for use on smelly socks, musty towels, and sweaty clothes. It’s color-safe and can be used in all washing machines, including high-efficiency models. The laundry booster helps get out stubborn stains and odors, even from pet beds and sports clothing, making it a must-have in busy households.
Best for Body Odor: No Sweat Laundry Detergent HE Sport by No Sweat
Do the armpits of your favorite shirts retain a stale odor? If so, you can get them clean with No Sweat Laundry Detergent, which is specially designed for athletic clothing. The formula actually kills the bacteria that leads to body odor smells, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean once more.
No Sweat is a hypoallergenic, antibacterial detergent that you can use on all laundry, from your undergarments to your workout clothes. It comes in a 32-ounce bottle and contains a combination of cleaning enzymes that bond to bacteria and dirt, removing them from the fabric. The detergent can be used in all washing machines, including high-efficiency models, and it doesn’t contain any dyes, fillers, or optical brighteners.
No Sweat works wonders on gym clothing, work uniforms, undergarments, and even smelly pet beds. Many buyers say it removes musty smells that other detergents left behind and you only need a small amount of detergent for good results.
Best Pod: Tide PODS 4 in 1 HE Turbo Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent pods are undeniably convenient, as they save you from having to measure out detergent. If you’re looking for a pod that’s good on odors, one of the best options is Tide PODS Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense, which comes with 61 pods per container. As its name suggests, this product is ideal for workout and athletic gear, since the pods pack six times the cleaning power of regular detergent.
These 4-in-1 pods include detergent, stain remover, color protector, and odor defense in their unique multi-chamber design. The pods can be used in all temperatures and don’t produce excess suds. This detergent is ideal for getting the smell of sweat out of clothing.
Best for Sweat: WIN Sports Detergent
If you exercise frequently, you may find that your workout clothes have lingering sweat odor or sweat stains. The Win Sports Detergent is formulated to combat sweat smells on workout clothes, making it ideal for fitness enthusiasts and athletes.
Win Detergent comes in a 32-ounce bottle and is ideal for synthetic fabrics like spandex and polyester—typically what workout clothes are made from. However, it can also be used on cotton and other common materials, and it is compatible with high-efficiency washers. The detergent works by breaking down the sweat oils lingering on your clothes, so it removes them instead of just covering up the smell.
This detergent is one of the most effective ways to combat the smell of sweat, making it ideal for sports uniforms and athletic clothing that is usually tough to freshen up. However, several note that it is quite expensive, so they only use it on workout clothes—not their regular laundry.
Best Stain Remover: Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid Laundry Detergent
Got odors and stains? Then you need a detergent like Tide Ultra Stain, which is widely acclaimed for its stain-removing abilities. This popular laundry detergent comes in extra-large, 138-ounce containers, and it boasts six times the cleaning power of normal detergents.
This stain-fighting formula helps to remove 99 percent of everyday stains, including grease, food, and more. It even includes a unique pretreatment cap that has scrubbing bristles to help you loosen up stains before the cycle. This detergent can be used with high-efficiency washers, and reviewers say it truly does a better job than other detergents at removing both old and new stains, as well as odors.
Best Green: Method Free + Clear Laundry Detergent
If you prefer “clean” products, the method Free + Clear Laundry Detergent is known to be effective on lingering smells. This naturally-derived formula comes in 53.5-ounce bottles, and it’s dye-free and cruelty-free, so you can feel good about using it.
The concentrated formula works in both standard and high-efficiency washing machines, and the plant-based ingredients are effective at removing stains like coffee, red wine, and chocolate. There’s no added fragrance, so you can really trust that the detergent works to remove stains, not just mask them with added fragrance. This formula is ideal for anyone with sensitive to fragrance, and many love that you just need to use a small amount since the formula is so concentrated.
If you're searching for a powerful all-in-one detergent that will eliminate stains, sweat, and body odor from fabrics without harsh additives, then the HEX Performance Advanced Laundry Detergent (available at Amazon) won't disappoint. But if you're looking for a detergent that can be used as a pre-treatment, stain remover, and laundry booster all-in-one, then pick up the OxiClean Odor Blasters Laundry Booster (available at Amazon).