Let’s be honest. Workout gear is the best thing to wear on the regular, but the worst to take off and clean after a sweaty run or yoga class.
Sure, it’s an amazing feat of textile technology – it keeps you cool and dry, protects from chafes and rashes, and gives you motivation you just didn’t have in your PJ’s. Not to mention, we’re known to pay a pretty penny for those Lulus and Nike. So, washing them excessively and chancing that they’ll only get a few good wears in before being stretched out, shrunk or just feeling old is something we’d like to avoid.
The benefits of high-priced performance gear are usually worth it. Athletic gear is very carefully designed to wick away moisture and keep your skin temperature at a comfortable level. That is, until you have to wash it several times. Washing and drying your active wear the wrong way can make your apparel do the exact opposite of what you paid for: destroy antimicrobial properties, clog fibers, and cause breakdowns that lead to wear and tear.
In addition to the depreciation of your clothes, sometimes your favorite workout gear keeps a lingering odor that you just can’t get rid of. We know how easy it is to just spray a little freshener on those clothes and pray, but here are some better ways to get the stink and sustainability out of your most-used performance gear:
1. Turn everything inside out before washing. After all, that’s the part that’s closest to your sweaty skin.
2. Hand wash if that’s what the care tag says. We know, it’s not fun. But it’ll extend the life of your most expensive pieces.
3. Use less detergent. Just a little less than you normally would. Too much detergent coats clothing, making it less likely to come out completely clean.
4. Your mom was right – soak! Soaking your particularly dirty gear in a mixture of 1-part white vinegar to 4-parts water for 15-30 minutes prior to washing will help loosen up any gunk and reduce the smell (white vinegar is really cost-effective and it’s a natural odor-eliminator too!).
5. Eliminate fabric softener from your washing regimen. Like detergent on a tougher scale, it sticks to breathable clothing, making them harder to clean thoroughly.
6. Keep it cold. Athletic fabrics are often delicate, so to extend their lifespan, wash them in cold water only.
7. Dryers, beware. Along the same lines as washing cold, your textiles will do much better if they’re air-dried. If you absolutely have to use the dryer, put it on the lowest heat seating. Otherwise, hang them on felt hangers in a place that gets fresh air (i.e. not your closet).
8. In extreme cases, use sports-specific detergent. Here’s a great list of detergents that will be friendly for your active wear.
9. Wash ASAP. Letting your dirty gear pile up isn’t doing anyone any favors. The longer it sits, the more mold and mildew has a chance to infest, making your already dirty gear even dirtier.
10. Don’t wash your gear with jeans, towels, or anything with zippers. Apparel with zippers can have an adverse effect on the delicate athletic fabrics as they rub up against each other in the washing machine and can even cause rust stains.
It’s quite alright to spend your hard-earned money on nice fitness apparel, knowing the benefits it can bring your fitness regimen. Just make sure you’re treating your gear with as much care as you do your body and you’ll be in good shape.