how to wash smelly gym clothes
Laundry

How To Wash Gym Clothes

Sweat can certainly linger on gym clothes and shoes – read our guide to get your work-out gear smelling fresh and new again!

Whether it’s your gym gear or your kids’ PE kits, the problem of how to clean sweaty gym clothes is one shared by many households. However, there are some simple tips that can be followed to wash gym clothes and avoid unwanted odours and hassle.

Hang and Air Sweaty Gym Clothes

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.

Apply Vinegar

As with so many cleaning quandaries, the answer to how to clean gym 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.

Wash the Gym Clothes

Next step is to wash the 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.

In either case, a few drops of vinegar, or the juice of a lemon, can be added into the wash for additional effect (chuck it in with the clothes, not in the detergent compartment). As for detergent, do not use too much, particularly for tech fabrics, to avert the risk of it clogging the fabric and neutralising its sweat-resistant capacities.

Drying the 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 choose to tumble dry any clothes, always check the garment label first.

How to Clean Sweaty Gym Clothes – Emergency Measures

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.

For targeted cleaning of particularly bad areas of your sweaty gym clothes, a pre-wash treatment can help. OMO Ultra liquid detergent has a Stain Eraser Ball that you can use to pre-treat areas of your clothes. You can also let your sweaty gym clothes soak in a solution of detergent – OMO Ultra is a good option, or you could try something like Surf that’s designed to leave clothes smell fresh – and cool water. Just follow the directions on the label and use the amount of detergent advised for a pre-wash treatment.

Finally, there are specialised detergents out there, which specifically deal with how to clean sweaty gym clothes, if this option is preferred.

Top Tip


Modern anti-sweat fabrics are great for wearing to the gym! But they won’t ensure your clothes completely avoid sweaty odours, so you still need to know how to wash them! To avoid the fabric losing its sweat resistance, wash at a moderate or cold temperature with a mild, non-bleach detergent like OMO Auto liquid detergent or Surf – just follow the directions on the label.