You don’t have to break a sweat to understand why they call it the January gym rush. After all, following weeks of festive meals and oversized ugly sweaters — and emboldened by the fresh start of a new year — is it any wonder why people resolve to shape up and sweat it out? It’s estimated 12% of all annual gym sign-ups occur in January alone. So, if you’re one of these January joiners, it’s important to dress for success. After all, you’ll be putting more than just your body through the paces. Your clothes will also be bearing the brunt of the wear and tear that comes with all those high-intensity workouts. And if not cared for properly, your gym clothes will last about as long as most New Year resolutions do. Luckily, we have essential tips for washing workout clothes. Read on to find out the best ways to clean your gym wear, including sustainable tricks to help make them last.
Choose a detergent cut out for the job
Avoid the harsh chemicals found in regular laundry detergents. Instead, switch to eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets. Not only will they tackle stains and strong odors, but they are plant-based, hypoallergenic and biodegradable with zero toxins. Plus, they come pre-measured, so you’ll never have to guess how much detergent you need. We’ve done the math for you. For regular loads, rip a strip (two strips to a sheet) and toss it in the machine with your laundry. For heavy washes, use an entire sheet. For lighter loads, half a strip will do. Then select your wash setting.
Sort your fabrics and treat any stains
Start by sorting your workout gear by fabric type and color. High-performance fabrics like spandex, polyester, and nylon require special care. But before you throw them into the machine or hamper, first treat stains promptly. To do this, try a natural solution such as a mixture of baking soda and water or white vinegar. Apply the solution directly to the stained areas and let it sit before washing. For tougher stains, rip a strip from a laundry detergent sheet and add it to your solution. And refer to our guide on removing sweat, mud, and grass stains to simplify your post-workout laundry routine.
Select the best wash temperature and cycle
Hot water can damage technical fabrics, so opt for cold, which protects the material while still cleaning stains and extracting odors. Then, choose a gentle cycle to preserve the elasticity and the integrity of the fabric. Most athletic wear should be washed on a delicate setting but always refer to the garment’s label for wash instructions. Also, make sure the machine isn’t overcrowded. If it is, take a few items out. Otherwise, you’ll keep your gym clothes from enjoying a thorough clean.
Avoid fabric softeners and bleach
Don’t be fooled by the allure of synthetic fabric softeners — your athletic wear doesn’t need them. Go ahead and skip fabric softeners and bleach, as they can leave residue and degrade the performance and breathability of your workout wear. If you’d like to add softness and boost odor elimination, add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. It works like a typical fabric softener without the chemicals.
Hang it to dry it
Just like you, your workout clothes thrive in fresh air, So, after washing, air-dry them. High heat settings in the dryer can weaken fibers and affect moisture-wicking properties. To prevent this, hang or lay your workout gear flat in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Plus, most athletic clothes dry quickly, so you won’t have to wait long for them to be ready for your next workout.
Quick tips for specific workout fabrics
When washing workout clothes, you’re probably working with one of the following fabrics. If so, let us guide you through their care:
Spandex and Lycra: Wash inside out to preserve elasticity and avoid pilling.
Cotton: Use cold water and gentle cycles to prevent shrinking.
Nylon and Polyester: Turn them inside out and avoid high heat to maintain their moisture-wicking properties.
How to clean athletic gear
Specialty items like yoga mats, gloves, and resistance bands need occasional cleaning, too. For mats, wipe them down with a damp cloth and mild soap, then air-dry them.
Gloves and resistance bands can be hand-washed using eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets and then air-dried. Depending on how often they’re used and whether you share the equipment, you can wash your yoga mat and resistance bands once a month. Gym gloves, on the other hand, should be washed once a week, depending on usage.
Store away your clean exercise clothes
Once dry, store your clean workout clothes in a tidy place where you can easily grab them. Don’t leave clean or dirty clothes in your gym bag. This prevents mold and odor buildup. Of course, you’ll want to give your gym bag the occasional wash as well. Follow the label to ensure it’s washed properly.
By following these tips for how to wash workout clothes, you’ll help maintain the cleanliness and performance of your workout clothes while also being more eco-friendly in the long run. The better care you give your athletic wear, the less you’ll need to buy in the future. Now who’s up for a run?