So first of all: great work! You’re not a morning person, but you’ve been getting up early, throwing on your best workout clothes and crushing some daily HIIT workouts. But the (literally) dirty little secret we need to talk about is that, no matter how cute you look sweating it out in the latest athleisure collab, at some point your exercise gear is going to start smelling pretty bad — even after you wash it. (We know, it’s totally unfair.)
The thing is, all of those great sweat-repelling properties that wick away moisture while you’re working out can make it tougher for water and detergent to get through and actually deep-clean your clothes. And over time, the more your sweaty body oils and the detergent build-up compound, the harder it gets for water and suds to penetrate fabric fibers at all. So if you’re starting to notice a scent that’s definitely not that intoxicating fresh laundry smell (pew!), we have some tips to freshen up your workout clothes. You don’t want your beloved new Ivy Park gear becoming just another gross pile of spandex!
1. Don’t just throw your workout gear in the hamper post-sweat sesh. You may not love the idea of sweaty sports bras and yoga pants hanging up around your bedroom, but letting damp clothes sit in a pile instead of completely drying out will only allow smelly bacteria to fester. You should also turn your workout clothes inside-out before they go in the wash to prevent fading.
2. Try soaking your clothes in white vinegar. White vinegar is the go-to household hack for smelly clothes. Mix one cup with cold water, and allow your clothes to soak in a bucket for 20-30 minutes before they hit the washing machine. That should do the trick, but you can also add a cup of vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle if you’re feeling really hardcore. Things might smell a little salad-y going in, but by the time your clothes come out of the dryer, you’ll have a pile of fresh, stench-free gear.
3. Skip the fabric softener. Fabric softener doesn’t do anything to make your clothes cleaner and, in fact, it creates a barrier on your gym clothes that will prevent actual soap from getting through. Plus, it breaks down the stretch and fit of your clothes over time, and we know you love those spandex pants tight (or just really hate them slipping down over and over) for your treadmill run.
4. Throw in some baking soda. During your machine’s wash cycle, drop in a cup of baking soda. It’s another top odor-fighting household item (maybe you even have some sitting in your fridge right now for the same reason), but you’ll probably want to try this and the white vinegar trick separately. You’re washing clothes, not scrambling for ingredients on Top Chef.
5. Use less detergent. It sounds completely counter-intuitive, but the better your workout clothes, the less detergent you want to expose them to. You want to prevent that build-up issue we talked about earlier, so blasting them with full-on suds will only do more harm than good. Try using half the amount you would normally, and running them through a water-only cycle if you suspect they’re already suffering from detergent build-up.
6. Always wash in cold water. Too much heat is another way to break down the stretch in high-quality fibers. And there’s nothing worse than saggy yoga tights.
7. Dry on low heat or hang dry. Ready to picture something gross? Okay, here we go: Think of high dryer heat as “baking” the stench into your clothes. Yep, we warned you — gross. Don’t do it! Same as the cold water trick, drying on low will also prevent fabric from breaking down. Get that cute workout gear to work for you longer, girl.
How do you keep your gym clothes from getting smelly? Tweet us your tips @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)