I’ve been trying to perfect my workout wear washing game for years. Since I spend a small fortune on moisture wicking, wind blocking, reflective performance gear that looks adorable, I feel it’s my JOB to keep it looking and smelling fresh.
This simple task, however, is not as easy as it sounds.
My running friends and I sometimes grab a coffee or breakfast after our morning workout. (Choosing the Starbucks parking lot as our meeting place makes this extra convenient.) Lately, as we sip coffee and chat post-workout I’ve noticed my sweaty workout wear smells ridiculous amounts of not-so-fresh.
Before my funky gear starts to ruin my running crew’s morale, or worse, throw off the Starbucks barista on duty, I immediately reassessed my washing situation and put Operation Get the Stink Out into effect.
Here are six tips to keeping your workout wear smelling fresh:
1. RINSE Immediately
Much like it helps to rinse chlorine and salt water out of your swimsuit as soon as possible, sweat and grime should be rinsed out of your workout wear immediately. After a particularly hard workout or humid day, I’ll just wear my clothes right in the shower to rinse them off.
2. NEVER Throw in the hamper.
Don’t leave damp workout wear in a heap, the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Instead, drape them over a towel bar or hang them up in the laundry room until you’re ready to wash them.
3. WASH Twice
Wash your workout wear separate from your other clothes and run them through the washer twice. The first time you run them through, don’t use any soap, just water and a half cup of white vinegar. This allows the moisture wicking performance fabrics to rinse thoroughly. The vinegar kills bacteria and helps to break down and neutralize odors. For extra tough stink, let the clothes soak in this cycle for about 30 minutes.
The second wash, add just half of your normal detergent or sport wash (I like to use Penguin Sport Wash) and wash on the hottest setting available.
NOTE: It’s very important not to overfill your machine. The soiled clothes need plenty of room to move around, so keep your loads small to medium sized.
4. AVOID Fabric Softener
The softening agent in fabric softener leaves a coating and will prevent technical fabrics from optimum performance. Using fabric softener means your moisture wicking gear might not wick moisture at all next time. Definitely skip this step.
5. NEVER Dry
Always hang your workout clothes to dry. The repeated hot air from the dryer breaks down fibers reducing the life-span of your expensive gear. If you must dry, use a lower heat setting and avoid dryer sheets.
6. ROTATE your clothes
We all have that lucky shirt or favorite pair of shorts that we like to work out in, but do yourself a favor and don’t wear them for every single workout. Give your favorites a rest and they will hopefully last you, stink-free, for years to come.