Stop Ruining Your Fitness Clothes in the Washer

| Fitness

When you throw your new workout gear in the wash for the first time, do you cringe at the thought that it may be stretched, shrunk, stained or smelly when its spin cycle is over? Buying quality fitness clothing can get pricey and even the best tanks and tights can deteriorate if they aren’t washed properly. To keep you feeling and smelling clean, check out these tips for washing your favorite workout styles.

woman getting clothes out of dryer

Hang it up. If you work out every day, it’s difficult (and impractical) to wash your outfit as soon as you get home. But throwing your sweaty gear in a hamper may cause them to form mildew or mold and the stench may make its way to your work or street clothes, too. Instead of tossing your workout gear in a laundry basket, hang them up in your laundry room so they’ll dry thoroughly.

Follow the tag. For street clothes, it may be OK to ignore the hand wash instructions on the tag of your t-shirts. Following the tag on your fitness gear, though, is crucial to keep them looking fresh. If the tag on your running tights says to hand wash them, that's probably because the fabric is too delicate to be put in the washer or because it's been treated with something that isn't washer-friendly. (via Daily Burn)

Wash it inside out. Even in cooling or sweat-resistant clothes, the moisture and smell of sweat builds up in the fabric of your fitness clothes, as do dead skin cells that you shed during exercise. This less-than-pleasant stuff builds up on the inside of your gear, so wash them inside out. This also protects the colors in your bright tanks from fading or the print on your motivational running tee from cracking.

>> Shop: Bright-Colored Workout Clothes

Take care of the girls. If your sports bras seem to lose their elasticity or shape pretty quickly, it's because the material is being broken down in the wash. Ideally, you should hand wash and line dry your sports bras after each wear, but if that's not practical for you, buy a lingerie bag like these by Fuse Essentials so these delicate pieces can get clean without being destroyed.

lingerie bag for laundry
(Photo: Amazon)

Be stingy with the soap. Hanging your clothes while they wait to be washed may help, but it won’t prevent the stench from taking over your sweaty gear. When they finally make it in the wash, you might be tempted to overload the washer with detergent to give your clothes the best clean; don’t! Your washing machines presets are only meant to wash out a certain amount of detergent. The extra soap don’t get rinsed out of your clothes and instead it builds up on the fabric, creating more of a germy mess and dewy smell. It’s best to use a little less detergent than recommended to best clean your workout attire.

Buy sport detergent. Regular detergents may not be concentrated enough to get out tough sweat odors or stains, or they may contain ingredients that are harmful to your workout clothes. Nathan Sport-Wash ($18 for 42 wash loads) is a performance detergent that removes odor and stains rather than masking them with flowery scents. It is also available in travel packets ($5 for 6 wash loads) for race road trips or active vacations!

nathan sport detergent
(Photo: Nathan)

For fragrant options that clean deep and don’t damage your fitness clothes’ material, try Roux Masion’s sport detergent ($16.99 for 40 washes) in Ambrosia or Sweet Tea.

sport detergent
(Photo: Roux Maison)

And for a bargain buy that still gets the job done, many gym-goers recommend Tide Sport with Febreze ($9.94 for 48 wash loads) for removing sweat odors and stains.

tide sport with febreze detergent
(Photo: Walmart)

Forgo fabric softener. Your high-performance workout wear isn’t made of cotton and the fabric softeners you use to keep your tees feeling fluffy won’t work on hi-tech material. Fabric softeners can actually break these fabrics down faster, so avoid them altogether when washing activewear. When it's time to dry your clothes, skip the dryer sheet, too.

>> Read more: 10 Healthy Household Cleaning Products

Keep it cold. Wash your fitness clothes (and anything else you don’t want to become a crop top) in cold water as heat breaks down fabrics and causes them to shrink. When it’s time to dry your clothes, ditch the high-heat setting for an air fluff cycle or hang them up to dry. This is also true for sticky socks; the high heat peels the grips off the bottom!

These tips may extend the life of your favorite workout clothes, but when colors start to fade, straps lose their shape or your tights lose their stretch, it's time to go shopping. And we've got you covered. Check out these 6 online fitness shops we're loving right now!