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Washing Workout Clothes: A Beginner’s Guide

Posted by Patricia Spencer on
Washing Workout Clothes: A Beginner’s Guide

Let’s face it – the clothes that we work out in can get pretty gross, pretty fast.  After all, we sweat in them, and that leaves them smelling less than pleasant.  Besides that, many of them get stretched out after a few uses, and require washing to get their shape back.  Of course, clothes also get visibly dirty if we don’t clean them regularly.

When it comes to workout clothes, a little more consideration is needed, in order to ensure that you’re washing them thoroughly, all while making sure not to damage them.  Workout clothes are typically made from fabrics that are different from the other garments that we wear regularly, and so you’ll really need to make a point to care for them in the right way so that they can last.

Should You Wash Your Workout Clothes After Each Workout Session?

Now, this is a good headliner question, and the answer is, it depends on what you’re wearing them for.  If you’re actually working out in them, you should clean them after each session.  How come?  Well, because sweat builds up in them, which doesn’t just make them smell, but can cause skin irritation, and even stain them. 

If you’re wearing workout clothes/athleisure clothes to, say, run errands, then you don’t necessarily need to wash them immediately.  You can probably get through a couple wears depending on how long you’re wearing them and what you’re doing when you’re wearing them.

How to Wash Gym Clothes in the Washing Machine

Like with any garment, you always want to read the care label before assuming that you can wash your workout clothes like the rest of your wardrobe.  The care label will tell you whether or not the garment can be machine-washed and/or machine-dried, and also give you more specific directions about which settings to use to keep your clothes looking vibrant and at their absolute best.

For clothes that can, in fact, be machine-washed, you’ll first want to check for sweat stains.  If there are any, we recommend a natural enzymatic stain remover that can break down the proteins in sweat.  Running your sweat-stained workout clothes through a standard washing and drying process without first pre-treating the stain can mean setting the stain permanently.

Again, when it comes to the washing cycle, look at the care label to determine what settings are best.  For instance, cotton sweatpants typically require different settings from a delicate nylon sports bra that has cups built in. 

Overall, we recommend putting your workout clothes in a mesh laundry bag, to prevent snagging and other forms of wear and tear.  It’s likely that you will need to use cool water to ensure that the materials don’t lose their stretch, and that the colors don’t run.

So, what about the detergent?  Good question.  We recommend using a gentle detergent, and of course, we always encourage you to choose a detergent that’s both environmentally friendly and nontoxic, as determined by the EPA.  Suggestion: Grab Green’s 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Pods, 3 in 1 Laundry Detergent Powder, and Bleach Alternative Laundry Detergent Pods (for white workout clothes).

Is it Better to Wash Gym Clothes in Cold or Hot Water?

Most workout clothes do better in cold water.  That’s because workout clothes tend to be heavily dyed, and they’re made from thinner materials that require gentler wash settings.  Besides that, most gym clothes use elastic to be stretchy, and hot water would ruin their stretch.

Do Gym Clothes Need to Be Air-Dried?

Again, you’ll want to refer to the care label when determining how to dry your workout clothes.  It all depends on the materials used, as some are more capable of withstanding the heat of a dryer than others.  Fortunately, most materials used to make workout clothes nowadays can handle a drying cycle just fine.  Still, you want to check the label to be extra sure.

What if the Odor Still Lingers?

Certain fabrics are more breathable than others, and workout clothes made from polyester may hold onto odors for longer than with other materials.  Once in a while, you may find that a typical wash cycle isn’t enough to get rid of what remains of the stench.

But, there is an easy solution, that happens to be environmentally friendly.  We recommend soaking the garment in 1 part water, 1 part distilled white vinegar for at least 2 hours.  Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that eats away at odors effectively and quickly. 

Why the Ingredients in Your Laundry Products Matter

When it comes to washing workout clothes, or any clothes for that matter, you do want to be mindful of the ingredients you’re using.  A lot of commercial laundry detergents contain harsh chemical agents that can wear down your clothing faster, while containing irritants and allergens that can cause skin problems.  In fact, commercial laundry detergents often contain carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, like formaldehyde and a variety of surfactants that ultimately have the potential to be damaging to our health.

At the same time, many of us underestimate the impact that our laundry routine has on the environment.  But, the harsh chemicals in many detergents are known to cause environmental harm, as they get washed away into the soil, streams, and lakes that feed all life on our planet.  Because of this, we really stress the importance of choosing laundry products that are EPA-certified, which means that they use formulas and packaging that do not cause harm to our ecosystem.

Keep Your Workout Clothes Smelling Fresh

Ultimately, our workout clothes take a beating, mainly through our sweat.  But, fortunately, the majority of modern workout clothes are made to handle washing machines and driers, so that you don’t have to put too much elbow grease into keeping them clean and odor-free.

The key is following the care label for each individual garment, using a mesh laundry bag, and using the best laundry products out there.  Remember, Grab Green Home has got your laundering needs covered with eco-friendly, nontoxic solutions.

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