Sweating through a workout is great, but once the workout is over, however, no one wants that sweaty smell to remain in their clothes, especially expensive high-performance activewear. Taking care of your garments correctly can make your investment last.
Workout gear requires washing after every use. Allowing sweat-soaked clothes to dry (such as in the bottom of your gym bag) and then wearing them again only builds up layers of body soil and bacteria. If you can't wash the items the same day, air-dry them before tossing them in a hamper to prevent mildew.
Washing high-performance gear takes some extra care. These are not your plain cotton T-shirts and sweatpants that can tolerate hot washes and machine-drying. Each piece of activewear requires examination and preparation before and after washing, and be sure to set enough time aside to let them air-dry.
Equipment / Tools
- Washing machine
- Drying rack
- White distilled vinegar
- 2 teaspoons mild or detergent specific for high-performance fabric
|How to Wash High-Performance Activewear|
|Detergent||Mild or detergent for high-performance fabrics|
|Drying Cycle Type||Low-heat or air-dry|
|Special Treatments||Wash in small loads|
|Iron Settings||Do not iron|
Soak and Rinse
Workout clothing often builds up unpleasant odors, even after washing. The key to breaking the bond between the body soil and the fabric is white distilled vinegar. This inexpensive product has a low level of acid that cuts through body oil and helps release soil and bacteria to be flushed away in the wash.
Mix one part white distilled vinegar to four parts cold water. Submerge your workout clothes and let them soak for 15 to 30 minutes before washing. If wash day is several days away, place the clothes in the vinegar/water solution for a 30-minute soak. Rinse with plain water and allow to drip dry before tossing the clothes in the hamper.
Turn Clothes Inside Out
The grime on your workout clothes is mostly on the inside, not the outside. Close up any zippers and turn the clothes inside out before you put them in the washing machine. It keeps the colors brighter and helps avoid snags during the cycle.
Add the Correct Detergent
No matter how bad the clothes smell, stick to the specified amount of laundry detergent—about two teaspoons. Too much detergent will build up in the clothing fibers creating a perfect environment for the breeding bacteria and fungus that cause odors.
If you’re dealing with very bad smells, try a sportswear-specific laundry detergent that’s designed to clean moisture-wicking synthetic materials. Options include Hex Performance and Nathan Power Wash.
Set the Washing Machine Properly
Air-Dry Workout Gear When Possible
Ideally, let your high-performance workout clothes air-dry on a drying rack. If you must put them in the clothes dryer, use the lowest heat setting possible to avoid damaging the fabric. Before putting clothing into the dryer, do a sniff test, and rewash if the odor is still in the fabric. Machine-drying tends to bake the odor into the fibers.
What Is High-Performance Activewear?
Workout clothing can be made of high-performance and stretchy activewear fabric that is designed to keep you cool during exertion by wicking moisture away from the body. This type of fabric is typically made from blended synthetic fibers, including nylon microfibers and spandex. These fibers are highly engineered to be breathable and many brands have built-in UV protection. Since the fabric repels moisture, it's tougher to get them clean and fragrant in the wash.
Storing High-Performance Activewear
Some people find it helpful to sort their workout gear by type, such as bottoms, tops, and sports bras. Others like to put matching outfits together to make it easy to grab a set of clothing that goes together. These fabrics can be hung or folded. Make sure the clothing is clean if you're storing them away for a long time. Though bugs or larvae won't eat synthetic high-performance activewear, they will be attracted to any lingering organic stains on the clothing.
Rips in seams are simple to repair by hand with matching thread and a needle. Rips in the body of the garment can be stitched the same way but will leave an obvious seam. High-performance fabrics will not unravel but holes can become bigger if stretched.
Treating Stains on High-Performance Activewear
If you see a waxy build-up of deodorant or yellowing on the underarms, dip an old soft toothbrush in detergent and scrub the area to loosen the soil before you wash the clothes.
For other types of stains, follow the stain removal guidelines for the specific type of stain before washing.
Tips for Washing High-Performance Activewear
- Never add liquid fabric softener to a load of workout clothes or you'll end up with smelly, baggy clothes. Fabric softeners coat fibers to create a silky touch, lock in any remaining soil, bacteria, and odor, and can also break down stretchy elastic fibers.
- For extra odor-busting power, add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the washing machine when cleaning your workout clothes.
- When air-drying items, keep them away from heaters or direct sunlight because high heat sources can degrade the fibers.