How to Wash Gym Clothes

Sweat is good for us.  It helps to regulate our body temperature and it can be healthy for our skin, too.  It’s a necessary and vital function that some of us also use to gauge how successful our workout has been.  But sweat can also be embarrassing and difficult to clean out of fabrics, so it’s important when you exercise to know how to wash your gym clothes effectively.

How Often Should You Wash Your Gym Clothes?

We’ve probably all done the sniff test with gym wear, but there’s more than just smell when it comes to knowing how often you should wash your kit.  Sweat can get trapped between the fabric of activewear and our skin, and if you’re not regularly washing your kit then you could be at risk of developing ‘an acne-like rash called folliculitis’ says an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA, quoted on the Readers’ Digest website.  

Writing on the Net Doctor website, Dr Lisa Ackerley recommends that you wash your gym kit after each use. This may seem a little extreme to some people but it’s echoed by many health and cleanliness professionals.  Teen Vogue posed the same question to Mary Gagliardi who works for Clorox and whilst she said it was best to wash active wear after each workout, she also said that at a pinch (and if the exercise was low-impact), then you can probably get away with wearing something twice.  Except for socks. You shouldn’t re-wear socks.

Men’s Health furthers the importance of washing a gym kit regularly by warning that dried sweat can react with oxygen to leave unsightly (and hard to remove) yellow sweat stains —  eugh.

What to Do with Gym Clothes After a Workout

Balling up your sweaty kit and throwing it into the bottom of a gym bag is one of the worst things you can do.  You should hang up your clothing as soon as possible to allow the air to get to it. This reduces the smell and prevents damp or mildew from forming.

Man exercising with weights in gym wearing headphones

How to Wash Gym Clothes

Always wash your gym clothes inside out.  This not only protects the colour and design of your clothing but it is far more effective at getting bacteria and smells out —  both of which form on the inside of a garment.

Follow any washing instructions printed on the label.  It’s easy to be a bit slap-dash when it comes to this but it’s one way to ensure that you’re washing your clothes efficiently.  Synthetic fibres in your gym kit may require additional care when cleaning. The manufacturer's advice is always a good starting point for washing sportswear.

Quite a few websites and professionals recommend using either white vinegar or baking soda as a pre-soak.  Vinegar is effective at removing odours, restoring whites and getting rid of sweat stains from active wear.  White vinegar is inexpensive and it’s likely you already have it in your cupboard. Writing on the Jezebel website, Jolie Kerr recommends pre-soaking your gear in 1 cup of vinegar and four parts cold water for around 15-30 minutes before putting your kit in the wash.

Air dry your kit whenever you can as elastic won’t hold up for very long if it’s put in the dryer.

Use a small amount of detergent. This may seem counterintuitive but too much washing powder can actually trap bad smells into clothing.  Avoid using fabric softener, too, as it doesn’t play well with synthetic fabrics.

You could try freezing your smelly kit.  Cleanipedia says to put your clothes in a bag and then pop it in the freezer as this method can be effective for particularly stubborn smells.

Washing Workout Clothes with Baking Soda

Remember the trick about cleaning your gym wear with white vinegar?  Baking soda works just as well, too. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and will help lift stubborn odours from clothing and also helps brighten your whites.  The Spruce website recommends that for sweaty clothes you should mix half a cup of baking soda into the sink and let the gym wear sit for several hours or overnight.


How Often Should You Replace Workout Clothes?

Running trainers and sneakers won’t last forever, and it’s important that you keep a log (even just a rough one) to track how many miles you’ve run in your shoes.  This isn’t just purely for appearance’s sake but both the cushioning and support will start wearing down over time and that could leave you vulnerable to injury.  The advice is to replace running shoes every 300-500 miles.

You’ll notice with women’s gym leggings once the elastic starts going around the waist that they’ll feel a little baggier.  That goes for around the knees, too. Men’s gym leggings go much the same way. Although, as men tend to wear gym leggings under shorts it may not always be so obvious.  Once you’ve had your clothing for a few months then check that they’re still fit for purpose.

Pay attention to your sports bra around the 6-month mark.  You may get another year’s support out of it but when you feel there’s more bounce than before —  it’s time for an upgrade.

Cosmopolitan says that most sports tops are fine until you start noticing that they’re looking tired and worn or when sweat stains start to form and are too difficult to wash out.

Washing my Sweat-Proof Headphone Covers After the Gym

Sweat is corrosive and can damage and discolour your headphone earpads.  If you’re keeping the rest of your kit clean, then it makes sense to keep your cushions hygienic and fresh, too.

It’s far simpler to wash a moisture-resistant headphone cover than it is to replace a headphone earpad or cushion.  EarHugz are super easy to clean because they’re machine washable.  Just pop them in with your regular laundry and you’re ready to go. You can add the EarHugz wash pouch to your order, too. It’s 3 layers of soft nylon mesh offer excellent water permeation and protection during a machine wash.

How do you wash your gym clothes?  Do you *really* wash after every wear or are you guilty of the sniff test, too?  Drop us a message in the comments below.


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