For most of us, the entire purpose of a workout or exercise routine is to break into a sweat. But once the workout is over, no one wants the sweaty smell to remain in the clothes.
Today's high performance active wear can be quite expensive. Taking care of it correctly can make your investment last. These are not your plain old cotton t-shirts and sweat pants. With just a few tips, you can keep gym clothes smelling fresh and looking good.
Tip 1: Soak Before You Wash
The bacteria that gets trapped in your body soil is the culprit behind workout clothes odor. Body soil is oily and salty and stinky bacteria loves it.
The key to breaking the bond between the body soil and the fabric is white distilled vinegar. This inexpensive product has a very low level of acid that cuts through the body oil and releases the bacteria.
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 and allow to drip dry before tossing the clothes in the hamper.
Tip 2: Wash Workout Clothes ASAP
Wash gym clothes after every wearing. Allowing sweat soaked clothes to dry and then wearing them again only builds up layer after layer of body soil and bacteria. If you can't wash them the same day, allow the clothes to air dry before you toss them in a hamper to prevent the growth of mildew that only adds to the problem.
Tip 3: Go Easy On the Detergent
Fight the instinct that if a little detergent is good, a lot of detergent is better. It doesn't work that way with high performance workout fabrics.
Most active wear is made of microfibers containing Lycra and Spandex that repel water. That's great when exercising because it keeps you dry. But when washing, they repel water and hold onto petroleum-based detergents that can contain the encapsulated soil.
So, pay no attention to the recommended detergent levels. Use no more than two teaspoons of liquid laundry detergent per full load. While you can use the same laundry detergent you regularly use for your family, there are detergents specifically formulated for active wear.
If you see a waxy build-up of deodorant or yellowing on underarms, dip an old soft toothbrush in the detergent and scrub the area to loosen the soil before you wash the clothes.
Close any zippers and turn the clothes inside out before you toss them in the washer to prevent snags. Do not overload the washer and don't wash with cotton towels that produce lint balls that cling to synthetic fabrics.
Tip 4: Fabric Softener Is the Enemy
Never add liquid fabric softener to a load of workout clothes. Fabric softeners coat fibers to create the silky touch. That coating of fibers locks in the odor and bacteria and removing the coating takes many, many washings.
Fabric softener also breaks down the elastic fibers that give workout clothes their stretch.
You'll end up with smelly, baggy clothes.
To be sure your clothes are soft to the touch, add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar to the final rinse cycle to strip away any detergent residue that might cling and leave clothes feeling stiff. The vinegar can be added to your washer's automatic fabric softener dispenser.
Tip 5: Use the Right Water Temperature
High performance fabrics should always be washed in cold or warm water. If handled correctly, these water temperatures will do the job.
White cotton socks, towels, and cotton t-shirts should be washed separately in hot water for best results.
Tip 6: Skip the Dryer
Allow workout clothes that are made of high performance fabrics to air dry. If you must use an automatic dryer, choose the lowest heat or air-only cycle. High temperatures can damage fabrics-even melt them-and cause shrinkage.
Final Tips for Work Out Gear
Don't forget to your shoes, gym bag, and exercise mats. All of these need regular cleaning as well. These articles should help: