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How to wash gym clothes

When we workout we not only put our bodies through their paces, but also our clothes. Read on for our simple guide to show you everything you need to know about washing sports clothes effectively.

Updated By Cleanipedia Team

Gym bag lying open on the floor next to trainers
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Whether it’s sweaty gym clothes or kids’ PE kits, the problem of how to wash sports clothes and remove any unwanted odours is shared by many households. Read on to discover our guide for how to wash gym clothes and have them odour free and smelling great ready for your next workout.

Washing gym clothes needs to happen ASAP – don’t leave crumpled up in a bag. Sweaty gym clothes can develop mould and mildew, which is hard to shift, even after thorough washing.
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RequiredComfort Heavenly Nectar Ultimate Care
Comfort Heavenly Nectar Ultimate Care bottle
  • Plastic bag
  • Washing machine
  • Sink or small tub
  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric conditioner
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Water

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How to wash gym clothes: top tips and tricks

So, your sweaty gym clothes need a wash? We're going to show you how to wash gym clothes in washing machine and by hand, but first there are a few key tips you should know.

  1. Hang up and air sweaty gym clothes as soon as possible.

    The first step is to act quickly. As soon as possible, open out the clothes, turn them inside out and hang them up to air and dry.

    Do not leave sweaty gym clothes sitting in your kit bag. This could lead to mould and mildew, and you'll find this difficult to get rid of, even with a good laundry care routine.

  2. Before washing sports clothes, pre-treat them... in the freezer!

    You may think this tip is a bit out-there, but trust us, it works! If your gym clothes are particularly smelly, pop them into a sealed plastic bag inside the freezer to kill the smells and bacteria. Read our article on how to get sweat smells out of clothes for more great tips like this.

  3. Before washing gym clothes, soak them in a pre-wash solution.

    Start by creating a solution of laundry detergent and cool water. If you don't have a specialised one, the best detergents for gym clothes will be ones designed for gentle washing. Always double check the label for specific manufacturer advice. A half hour soak should be enough time for the treatment to act on the dirt before it can set into the fabric. 

    It’s a good idea to test this process on a small area of the garment first to make sure that it will not damage your gym clothes.

  4. Add an extra odour buster for particularly smelly clothes.

    If your sweaty gym clothes really smell, and you think your normal detergent and fabric conditioner just won't be enough, try adding an extra fragrance boost. Why not try Comfort Intense Perfume Pearls in addition to your usual products, to leave clothes smelling fresh.

    If you're in a rush, check your cupboards. A few drops of vinegar, the juice of a lemon, or a 1/2 cup of baking soda can be added into the wash for a similar effect.

  5. Always air dry your gym clothes.

    Now you know what to do with sweaty gym clothes, it's time to dry them. Weather permitting, it is recommended to sun-dry all of your gym clothes, as the sun’s rays act as a natural bacteria deterrent. If you can't hang your clothing outside, check out our article for advice on drying your clothes indoors.

    If you do want to tumble dry any clothes, always check the garment label first.

Now you know how to keep your gym clothes free of sweat stains and smells, why not do the same for the rest of your gym equipment? Our article on how to clean a yoga mat is a good place to start!

How to wash gym clothes in the washing machine

Using the washing machine to clean sweaty gym clothes is obviously the quickest and easiest option. Thankfully the steps for how to wash your gym clothes effectively in the washing machine are simple.

  1. Check the label on the material before choosing the setting on the machine.

    The care label will give you all the information for washing gym clothes correctly and safely, from what temperature to wash gym clothes at to advice on whether you can tumble dry them or not.

    Modern tech fabrics often used for gym clothing are quite fragile and can lose their effect when subjected to excess heat. Therefore it is often advisable to use warm or even cold water wash cycles.

  2. Turn your sweaty gym clothes inside out.

    When you're washing sports clothes, you want to focus on where the sweat is... the inside! To give them the best chance of coming out clean and odour free, turn your workout clothing inside out.

  3. The best detergents for gym clothes will be ones that are designed for more delicate fabrics.

    These are kinder to your clothing, while still cleaning effectively. We recommend using a good-quality detergent such as Persil Bio, which will help wash away all odour-causing bacteria sticking to gym clothes, as well as preserving the fabric in the long run.

  4. Banish bad odours from sweaty gym clothes with fabric conditioner.

    Always use a good quality fabric conditioner such as Comfort Ultimate Care in your washing cycle. It'll leave your gym kit smelling impossibly fresh while helping to reduce friction and wear and tear in the machine.

How to wash gym clothes by hand

If you've checked the care label and your sports clothes advise handwashing, don't panic. If the fabric is more delicate, follow our simple steps for handwashing gym clothes.

  1. Mix up a cleaning solution.

    Add a teaspoon of laundry detergent such as Persil to a sink or small tub of lukewarm water.

  2. Wash your clothes in the solution.

    Gently move your garments around inside the sink or small tub. Pay particular attention to areas that come into contact with the most sweat such as underarms.

  3. Rinse your clothing with fresh water.

    Thoroughly rinse your gym clothes with fresh water, taking care to ensure you remove all traces of detergent.

    To add a boost of softness and help your gym clothes to smell great, why not give your them a final rinse in water with a teaspoon of Comfort fabric conditioner?

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Thankfully, washing sports clothes is a matter of just a few simple tips, and now you've read our guide you can avoid unwanted odours and hassle. Now you know how to wash gym clothes, why not do the same for the rest of your gym equipment? Our article on how to clean a yoga mat is a good place to start!

Frequently asked questions on how to wash gym clothes

What temperature should I use when washing gym clothes?

If you're wondering what temperature to wash sports clothes at, we've got you covered. First, always check the care label, as different materials will require different temperatures. To ensure you kill off any unwanted bacteria and smells, you should choose a wash cycle with the maximum recommended temperature.

My gym clothes are looking a little worse for wear, when should I replace them?

It is recommended you replace your workout gear every 6 months - a year if you are using them regularly to work up a sweat.

Can I tumble dry my gym clothes?

Workout gear is often made of material that shouldn’t be placed in a tumble dryer. The heat during a drying cycle can break down gym clothing, swimming costumes and more causing unwanted damage. If you want to speed up the drying process, put your clothes on an extra spin cycle and hang them to air dry in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside.

Originally published