Fresh To Death: How To Wash Your Workout Clothes [Hint: It’s Not What You Think]

One of the best things about working out? The clothes [*hearteyeballz emoji*]. As athleisure wear continues to be one of the top fitness trends in 2016, we, fitionistas, can’t get enough! But more cute VSX sports bras, patterned running tights, + CHAARG tanks also means one, big thing — more [sweaty] laundry.++ while it’s easy to just throw it all in with the rest of the load, our activewear actually requires special care + attention — sometimes making laundry day a workout of its own. Follow along as we discover exactly why our workout clothes still don’t smell super fresh after a normal wash + how to truly deep-clean our favorite activewear, all in prep for that next #sweatsesh.

So, What’s The Big Deal?

We know what you’re thinking… what do you mean *I can’t just wash my gym clothes normally*? Except for the basic cotton tee, most workout clothes are made of special sweat-wicking materials, like Lycra//Spandex, to give us the ability to move quickly + absorb sweat. You know — everything that’s *Dri-FIT*. When you really think about it, it’s definitely harder to wash your activewear, as it’s specifically designed to repel water [so you’re not drenched + distracted during a hard workout!].

The fabrics used to make our gear both stretchy + supportive [which also sometimes give it that high price tag…] do not react well to laundry detergent + fabric softener. Many of us might add more detergent to particularly smelly workout clothes — but this can make things worse, as most standard washers are only set to handle a certain amount of soap. Any additional detergent that does not get washed out of your gym clothes will remain trapped in the fibers — locking in that mildewy smell. Another important thing to note is that fabric softener damages anything that stretches! ++ when used to wash your sweaty workout clothes, it also provides a coating that traps odors, causing our workout clothes to never come out smelling fresh + clean. *Ew* is right.

How *Should* We Wash Our Workout Clothes?

If you really want to give your activewear *the good clean* it requires + help those threads last even longer, try out this routine during your next laundry day:

1] Remove your sweaty clothes ASAP! With athleisure wear, it’s easy to go from a HIIT class to the coffee shop, but wearing the exact same outfit throughout the day actually harbors bacteria + makes everything a little bit sweatier + dirtier. Bring another cute workout outfit + switch into it right after class — no one will notice! ; )

2] Always allow items to air-dry [especially the super sweaty ones!] before tossing them into a hamper or laundry bag.

3] Turn your workout clothes inside out. Most of the sweat, dirt, + oils accumulate on the *inside* of our outfits.

4] Before washing, soak all activewear in a mixture of cold water + a half cup of white vinegar [your new secret weapon against workout odor!] for about 15-30 minutes. The white vinegar will help break down any sweat, dirt, etc. that have built up during your #sweatsesh, while also removing those bad odors. If you think your workout clothes need a serious deep clean, add another half cup during the wash cycle!

5] Use less soap! Aim to use a little less than the laundry detergent bottle label recommends.

6] Wash your activewear in a cold-water setting. Heat will contribute to shrinkage!

7] Air-dry your workout clothes or use the lowest heat setting on your dryer. Air-drying in sunlight can also help in eliminating any lingering odors. Also, if you’re using a dryer, skip out on the dryer sheets too, as they can also clog up your gym clothes.

8] Consider using additional ingredients to help boost your laundry routine + even sport-specific detergents! Adding in Borax, a cup of baking soda, ++// the juice from a large lemon to your load can also help break down any build-up + leave your workout clothes bacteria + odor free. ++ finally, detergents that are specifically designed for activewear can be perfect for anyone who’s sweating hard on a daily basis. Check out Hex Performance, Win Detergent, + Tide + Febreze Sport.

Work hard, play hard, ++ stay fresh + clean! : )

++ Jessica [@jessicasmith_inchaarg] // VirtCHAARG NYC

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  • Carli Taylor

    This is going to save my workout clothes!! Already tried this today and I can feel the difference from before when I was washing them. Thank you 🙂

  • Rebecca rose

    Thank you for the useful knowledge and I will wash my workout clothes as you said and the new thing that to wash workout clothes with cold water.

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