Because our workout gear is designed for activity, sweat, and long hours at the gym or the studio, it is easy to assume that it’s just as durable when it’s laundry day.
Washing workout clothes actually calls for a little extra attention and care. How you wash and dry your gym apparel makes an enormous difference to how long it lasts and how well it performs.
You know how your workout gear is breathable? How it seems to magically wick away sweat from your body? It’s not actually a magic trick. It’s the carefully constructed fabric doing its job. Throwing that high-performance (and pricy) apparel in with the rest of your laundry can break down the elastic, destroy antimicrobial properties, and clog up the fibers so they’re anything but wicking.
“Garment performance… is dependent on how you care for your gear,” says Joanne Whiteside-Mayor, senior apparel developer at Reebok.
Washing Workout Clothes: A Little Extra Attention Goes a Long Way
We’re not going to lie: performance fabrics, whether sweat-wicking, antimicrobial, compression or ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), will be more high-maintenance than your basic T’s.
Here are your guidelines for washing workout clothes:
1. Get those stinky clothes out of your gym bag pronto! Lay them on the side of your hamper or over the shower curtain rod so they can dry. Leaving warm, sweaty clothes in a gym bag creates an incubator for stinky bacteria and rapid deterioration of the fabric.
2. Machine-wash them on cold or, better yet, hand wash them. Use a gentle detergent, like All Sport, which is specially formulated with enzymes to remove stink and stains. Add a splash of the detergent to your sink or tub. Fill with cool water and add your clothes, agitating them gently in the water. All to soak for 30 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
3. Tumble dry your gear on a low heat setting. Skip dryer sheets, as these are filled with chemicals that coat and clog the fabric. Instead, use Wool Dryer Balls. If you have space to air dry, lay your gear flat in a shaded area to dry instead. (Avoid air drying in a closed indoor space, however, as the moisture and warmth create perfect conditions for mold.)
Extra Tip: Always skip fabric softeners. Those ‘extras’ can get in between and clog the fibers of your fabrics, which limits their ability to wick away sweat and fight odors. Natural fiber dryer balls keep your workout clothes soft without damaging them.
What About AntiMicrobials and UPF Finishes?
Even with proper care, the antimicrobial qualities of your athletic gear will likely wear off somewhere around the 50th wash. You can’t expect topical finishes to last forever. But don’t worry — using a sports detergent with active enzymes (like our All Sport) breaks down bacteria to keep garments fresh, so the finish won’t be necessary.
UPF finishes are a slightly different story. Most UPF finishes last around two years of normal wear and wear. You’ll know when it’s starting to wear off if you notice you’re getting a tan under your gear. In this case, either retire the garment, wear sunscreen underneath, or just know you’ll soon be sporting a golden glow.
Know When It’s Time to Call It
Even with the best care, workout clothes wear out eventually. When you notice stretched bands and straps, faded tags, runs in the fabric, areas that show signs of chafing, or the ‘hairs’ of elastic that have snapped, it’s time to retire your gear.
In other words, time to toss out the old and bring in the new!
When choosing your new workout apparel, opt for high-quality garments made from long-wearing fabrics with good, comfortable construction. They may cost a little more initially, but you’ll find that they wear longer and better. Also, invest in a quality sports detergent. All Sport is our secret weapon for all smelly clothing (and sports apparel are at the top of the smelly-clothes list). All Sport is gentle on delicate fabrics while whisking away stink, sweat, oils, and tough stains.
Now — Get Back Out There!
Now that you know exactly how to care for your gear so that it wears better and lasts longer, it’s time to get back to the gym, the beach, the studio, or wherever it is that you workout best.
Remember, we’re always here to help, and our products are Always Safe for People & the Planet.
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