You expect your workout clothing to become sweaty and smelly after exercise, but sometimes workout clothing retains its unique odor even after cleaning. One solution is to go out and purchase new clothing, but a more affordable solution is to change how you’re cleaning your clothing. You expose your workout clothing to a unique combination of sweat, dead skin cells, oils, friction and movement that can damage fabric fibers, but with a few helpful tips, you can freshen up even the most offensive shorts, tanks, and indispensable yoga pants.
Air out immediately
Leaving your dirty, sweaty clothing in your gym bag only makes matters worse, so air them out and hang them to dry as soon as you get home, even if you don’t have time to wash them right away. If you leave your dirty gym clothes in a damp pile, mold and mildew can form that remains trapped in fabric fibers even after you’ve cleaned the clothing.
Turn inside out
Before washing, turn your workout clothes inside out because a majority of the sweat and oils live on the inside of the garments.
Kill bacteria with soaking
Freshening your clothing and killing bacteria is as easy as giving it a soak in one part vinegar to four parts water. The soaking eliminates odors and breaks down the oils, dead skin cells, and other contaminants that accumulate in your clothing during a workout. Soak gym clothing for around 30 minutes before cleaning and pour some baking soda, vinegar, or lemon juice into the washing machine water for added bacteria prevention and freshness. For serious odor blocking, add a half cup of white vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle. If your detergent contains bleach, don’t add the previously-listed items as this can cause damage to clothing.
Adding extra detergent to combat gym clothing odors does more harm than good. Washing machines have standard cycles that can handle a set amount of detergent and any you add beyond that won’t wash out properly. That extra detergent builds up on the gym clothing, traps dead skin cells, and creates an environment where fungus thrives. You may remove the odor of sweat only to have it replaced with a funky mildew smell caused by the detergent feeding off dead skin cell remnants. For best results, use slightly less detergent than the bottle recommends for the chosen load size. There are also detergents designed especially for cleaning workout clothing and high-performance gear, and these can work well for eliminating odors and bacteria.
Avoid fabric softeners
Fabric softener damages any clothing that stretches and leaves behind a coating that’s difficult to clean and traps odors. Rather than locking in odors with chemical fabric softener, add a half cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle as it serves as an odor killer and natural fabric softener.
Use the right temperature
When cleaning and drying your gym clothes, use the warmest temperature your clothing label recommends as heat aids in the removal of bacteria and odors. Cotton garments hold up best to higher heat settings. Remember that hot water can lead to shrinkage in certain textiles so follow labels closely.
Tech fabric considerations
If your workout clothing features technological advances such as moisture wicking, clean the clothing in cool or warm water and hang to dry. Using cooler temperature water means you may need to add more lemon juice or vinegar to the wash to kill bacteria, but you’ll still maintain the integrity of the fabric.
Power of the sun
When possible, dry workout clothing that isn’t dryer friendly by hanging it out in the sunlight. The sun’s rays deter bacterial growth naturally while drying your clothing effectively and safely.
If you’ve tried all these tips and your gym clothing still appears dirty and has an unpleasant odor, don’t rush out to buy replacements just yet. Consult Embassy Cleaners to learn how we can restore your clothing’s freshness or if you’re unsure about the best procedures for cleaning your clothing.Professionally clean my clothing