Workout Clothes Stink?  Here is How to Clean Them!

If you workout, then you have probably encountered this situation: you finish your workout in a gym or hot yoga session and shove all your workout clothes into a plastic bag to take with you to the office.  When you arrive home later in the evening and open the bag, there is some serious stench. Not just office goers, but also people who return home from a workout session or long run, encounter the same funky-smelling clothes.

Sweat buildup and bacteria from your body are known to be the main causes of the foul smell in your workout clothing. Leaving sweaty clothes in a closed area, such as a gym locker, desk drawer, or plastic bag, can result in an increase in those odors as well.  No matter how well or how many times you wash them, the smells somehow set into your workout clothes.

The main reason for this is that the water in your washer does not get through the fibers completely.  This is just the nature of the clothes’ fabrics.

Yes, the water-repelling qualities of the fabrics are great during a massive workout and prevent waterlog from your excessive sweat, but the same qualities could be a problem after washing. Detergent, deodorant, and even our own body oils can also prevent water from penetrating the fibers.

But, there is good news! Though you will need to invest a little more time and effort, you can certainly get rid of the stench from your workout clothes and make them fresh, fragrant, and ready for your next workout.

Before we begin discussing specific washing tips, here are some general points to remember:

  • Body oils, sweat, and bacteria tend to accumulate on the inner side of your workout clothes; always turn them inside out before washing.
  • Be sure to wash your clothes as soon as possible after a workout. If you do not have the time to wash them immediately, simply hang them up to dry. Do not throw them inside the washer or leave them in a pile on the floor.
  • Never use fabric softener for gym clothes, as it creates a barrier that can prevent the clothes from getting thoroughly cleaned. This can also lock in those fouls smells.
  • Only use the recommended quantity of detergent. If you are not aware of any quantity, use just half the amount of what you usually use for washing your regular clothes.
  • Do not overstuff the washing machine.

Best Washing Practices

The following tips are a few easy practices to get rid of the stench from your workout clothes: 

  • One of the quickest and easiest ways to rid of bacteria and make your gym clothes smell fresh again, is to soak them in vinegar. For manual soaking, mix one part of vinegar with four parts of water and soak the clothes in the mixture for a good thirty minutes.
  • If you prefer using your washer for soaking, do so on the delicate cycle with cold water. Add one cup of vinegar to the water.  After the soaking period, wash the clothes like you usually do, with detergent and warm water.
  • Baking soda is an excellent natural deodorizer. Simply add a cup of baking soda to your washer along with the regular detergent. You can also follow this procedure on a regular basis to prevent your clothes from getting too smelly after a workout.  
  • Instead of using your regular detergent, choose a specialty detergent formulated specifically for washing activewear. You can find specialty detergents from various brands in the supermarket. Two of the most popular products include Win Sports Detergent and Tide Plus Febreze Sport. 
  • Apart from the natural laundry boosters like baking soda and vinegar, you can also use detergent boosters. Products like Charlie’s Soap and Borax are known to do a great job at removing odor and cleaning workout clothes.
  • After you wash your workout clothes using one of the techniques above, you should then focus on the drying process. If you choose to use the dryer, go for the hottest setting the clothing fabric will withstand. Another effective option is to dry outside. Heat from the sun acts as an excellent odor neutralizer. Try hanging your workout clothes outside in the sun for a few hours.

Don’t let smelly clothing keep you from feeling good while being active. Following these simple yet effective procedures will help keep those clothes clean, letting you feel refreshed and ready to exercise each time you put them on!