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A guide to washing gym clothes

The key to maintaining your workout kit is mastering how to wash gym clothes gently, yet effectively. Read on for our guide to washing gym clothes.


By Cleanipedia Team

Banish sweat smells and stains from your gym clothes with these simple steps:

  • Don't let them fester! Instead of leaving sweaty clothes scrunched in your gym bag, air them as quickly as possible.

  • Soak them in white vinegar and water before washing.

  • Wash in the washing machine with a quality detergent and fragrant fabric softener.

  • Dry them naturally. Do not store until fully dried.

Whether it’s your gym gear or your kids’ PE kits, the problem of how to get the smell out of gym clothes is one shared by many households. Thankfully, washing gym clothes is a matter of just a few simple tips, so you can avoid unwanted odours and hassle. Let's look at them in more detail.

Modern anti-sweat fabrics are great for wearing to the gym, but knowing how to get the sweat smell out of gym clothes requires a slightly different process to your usual fabrics.

How to wash gym clothes: step-by-step

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

    The first step is to act quickly and, as soon as possible, open out the clothes, turn them inside out and hang them up to air and dry. Above all, do not leave sweaty gym clothes crumpled up in a bag, where they can develop mould and mildew, which is hard to shift, even after thorough washing. 

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

    A bit of an out-there tip, but if your gym clothes are particularly smelly, try putting them in the freezer for a while before you pre-wash them (in a sealed plastic bag), to kill the smells and bacteria. Read our article 'how to get sweat smells out of clothes' for more great tips like this.

  3. 3. Soak in a pre-wash solution before washing gym clothes

    For targeted cleaning of particularly bad areas of your sweaty gym clothes, a pre-wash treatment can help. You can also let your sweaty gym clothes soak in a solution of washing 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. The amount of detergent advised for a pre-wash treatment will usually be specified on the label.

    Or, as with so many cleaning quandaries, the answer to how to wash sports clothes can be found in vinegar! Before putting the clothes in the washing machine leave them to soak in a vinegar and water solution (one part vinegar to four parts water). A half hour soak will give the vinegar time to act on the dirt before it can set into the fabric.  It’s a good idea to test this on a small area of the garment first to make sure that it will not damage your gym clothes.

  4. 4. How to wash gym clothes in the washing machine

    The simplest solution for how to get sweat out of clothes is to run them through a cycle in the washing machine, but it's important to take care with gym clothes. Check the label on the material before choosing the setting on the machine: cotton fabrics will clean most effectively at high temperatures, whereas the modern tech fabrics are more fragile and can lose their effect when subjected to excess heat. Warm or even cold water is therefore more advisable, and you may prefer to do a hand wash (see step 5).

    The best detergents for gym clothes will be ones that are designed for more delicate fabrics, while still cleaning effectively. Using a specialist detergent for sports clothes, like CleanKit, will help wash away all odour-causing bacteria sticking to gym clothes, as well as preserving the fabric in the long run.

    Not sure how to get the smell out of gym clothes effectively while still preserving the fabric? Remember to include your favourite Comfort fabric conditioner 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!

  5. 5. How to get the sweat smell out of gym clothes by hand

    If the fabric is more delicate and you're not sure how to get the smell out of gym clothes without risking damage, it's best to stick to hand washing. Gently move your garments through a sink, or small tub, of cool to lukewarm water mixed with a teaspoon of washing detergent. After rinsing thoroughly with fresh water, give your gym kit a final rinse in water with a teaspoon of Comfort fabric conditioner to leave it feeling soft and smelling heavenly.

  6. 6. Extra odour-busting tips for hand- or machine washing sports clothes

    How do you get the sweat smell out of clothes that... really smell? If your wash needs an extra fragrance boost, adding Comfort Intense Perfume Pearls to your washing cycle, along with detergent and fabric conditioner, will leave them smelling extra-fresh.

    A few drops of vinegar, or the juice of a lemon, can also be added into the wash for additional effect. Pop it in with the clothes, not in the detergent compartment, if you're machine washing; if you're hand-washing gym clothes, it can go straight in your washing water.

  7. 7. Drying your gym clothes

    Once the wash is finished, the clothes must be dried. Cotton-based fabrics can be tumble-dried, but the tech fabrics should be allowed to air dry. 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 do chose 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 concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

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!

Originally published