Hooray, workout over! So…. those lycra tights, runners, sports bras… just chuck them in with the regular wash, right? Wrong. Sports gear takes a beating and it doesn’t come cheap, so it’s worth taking the time to give it a little extra TLC. Nothing like a seam coming lose at the wrong time during Pilates to make you wish you had!
Don’t how to properly care for your sports clothes? Don’t sweat it: we’ve got your ultimate guide right here.
Lots of people add extra detergent to the wash with smelly gym clothes. But more is actually worse. Why? Your washing machine has a standard cycle that is set to handle a certain amount of detergent. Any excess doesn’t get washed out, it just builds up on your clothing trapping dead skin cells and creating an ideal environment for fungus. Ew.
Strong, stretchy… but still delicate!
Your lycra bike pants might seem made to withstand a hurricane, but sports tech materials, as a rule, should be treated as “delicates”. Choose a gentle detergent – Bosisto’s Wool & Delicates is perfect. Ensure that your detergent doesn’t contain fillers, which can get trapped in fibres, and react with sweat to cause more smells. Harsh chemicals and bleach are also a big no-no as they can cause fabric fade.
Say no to softener
Fabric softener is workout clothes’ arch enemy. It damages anything that’s stretchy, and also leaves a coating on clothes which can lock in odours. To naturally soften and freshen your workout gear, try adding half a cup of white vinegar to your wash cycle instead (bonus: it’s also a great odour killer).
Never put sneakers in the machine
Okay we’ve probably all done it – but shoe manufacturers strongly advise against washing runners in the machine, so if you’ve spent serious bucks on your joggers you might want to pay attention. Here’s how Nike advises to clean your shoes:
- Remove excess dirt first, and use a soft bristled brush (like a toothbrush) to clean the outside.
- Mix warm water and a small amount of gentle laundry detergent (like this one) to create a slightly soapy mixture.
- Apply a small amount of the mixture with a toothbrush or sponge, to clean affected areas.
- Use clean warm water with a separate sponge to wipe away the detergent.
- Air dry at room temperature.
- Follow the same steps above to clean the insoles of the shoes, or if odour persists, buy new insoles (available at your local sports store).
Wash in Cold
Hot water can break down textiles and lead to shrinkage. Use cold where possible.
Use the sun, not the dryer
Sunlight is a natural antibacterial, so unless the label says otherwise, dry your gear in natural sunlight to avoid shrinkage and overheating that can occur with dryers. To avoid fading, always turn your workout gear inside out before you wash – the worst odours are on the inside, after all!
Hang it, don’t stuff it
There isn’t always time to wash your workout gear straight away – that’s understandable. But rather than stuffing it in the washing basket or worse, leaving it in your gym bag, immediately hang your sweaty gear out to dry. Outside over a rack is perfect, until you have time to do a full load. Otherwise mould or mildew spores can accumulate – and they don’t always wash out.
For really tough odours, or gear that’s dried while waiting to be washed (like above), try this natural germ killing pre-soaker: to 2 litres of lukewarm or cold water, add half a cup of vinegar and 2 capfuls of Bosisto’s Eucalyptus Oil or Bosisto’s Tea Tree Oil. Soak for at least ½ hour before washing as normal.
Disclaimer: Please follow manufacturer's directions for washing your sports gear and if unsure, spot test first. Always read the label and use only as directed.