Work out clothes get stinky. It’s a fact. And, they can hold on to smells even after washing. Fabrics like Spandex and Lycra actually repel water so the fibers don’t get fully penetrated by the wash water. It’s made worse when the fabrics contain a build up of body oil, detergent and fabric softener.

So here’s how to property wash your work out clothes.

  1. First, either wash your sweaty gear immediately after wearing or hang them to dry so they can air out.  Don’t wad them up and toss them into the hamper while still damp or they can become mildew-y.  If they are super, super sweaty and you can’t wash them yet (like –  if you’re changing at the gym and tossing them into a gym bag), hand wash them to stop stains and smells from setting.
  2. Turn garments inside out when you launder.  For high tech fibers, wash with cold water to preserve the integrity.  For other fibers, like cotton, wash in the hottest setting they will allow.
  3. Use less detergent to prevent build up.
  4. Skip fabric softeners as it can leave a coating that blocks your tech shirt or pants’ ability to wick sweat prevents the clothes from getting fully cleaned.
  5. Add a 1/2 to full cup of white vinegar or baking soda to the wash to keep odors at bay.  (Vinegar does better in the rinse cycle, while baking soda is best used right up front in the wash cycle).
  6. For sports bras, soak them in the sink with either 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water or a cup of Borax mixed with water and let them sit for an hour before running through the wash.
  7. Hang to dry to help spandex and Lycra workout clothes maintain elasticity or if you must dry, make sure the dryer is on the lowest setting.
  8. Sunshine is a great odor neutralizer.  Turn items  inside out to prevent fading.
  9. Shoes can be spruced up with a toothbrush.  A machine wash can loosen glues and leave the shoes with less bounce.  After working out, shake two or three tablespoons of baking soda into each sneaker.  This eats up excess moisture and odor.  If you’re a runner, give the shoes 48 hours to recover from a run and use a second pair on alternating days.  Vigorous exercisers should replace workout sneakers every three to six months.
  10. Lastly, we have read you can freeze your gym clothes to kill smells.  Has anyone tried this??