How to wash your workout clothes

A man and two women in workout gear talk in the lobby of an exercise studio.

Choices for workout gear surpassed the grey sweatpants and white t-shirts long ago. Today’s offerings are fueled by science to wick moisture away or increase performance.

The improved quality typically comes with a higher price tag. To make the clothing last longer and protect your investment, it’s important to give them special care in the laundry room.

We’ve got some tips, including some expert advice from Amway Research Scientist and resident stain expert Jim Pell.

A woman in cycling gear pauses from a bike ride to take drink from a water bottle.

Behind the stink

A lot of science went into creating the clothes you use in spin classes or running marathons, Jim said.

“Athletic wear material has small pores and channels to aid in moisture wicking,” he said. “When the moisture evaporates, a mixture of skin oil and other body soils are left behind, the perfect place to trap odor causing chemicals.”

Read the label

The first place to start with any laundry is the label. “Make sure you follow the wash instructions on your garment’s care tag,” Pell said.

Take clothing off immediately

As soon as you can after your workout is over, peel your workout clothes off. Need help remembering? Just think about how when you sit around in sweaty clothes, dead skin cells are sloughing off your body and bacteria is growing.

Turn clothing inside out

Before washing, turn your workout clothes inside out. Jim says this safeguards any prints from fading and exposes the dirtiest side to the wash water.

A bottle of Amway Home™ SA8™ Liquid Laundry Detergent sits in a basket of laundry.

Detergent and prewash

Use regular detergent, like Amway Home™ SA8™ Laundry Detergent or one designed specifically for athletic wear.

“Many contain ingredients designed to help with the bad odor,” Jim said. “Before washing, you can also pretreat the garment in particularly dirty spots to help remove skin oils or stains—of course we recommend using Amway Home™ Prewash Spray.”

Cold water, gentle cycle

Select cold water and the delicate cycle on the washing machine. Hot water can increase fabric wear and make clothes shrink, Jim said.

Wash sports bras by hand if you have the time, or they’ll get beat up in the washing machine. If you wash them in the machine, put them in a mesh laundry bag.

When it comes to drying, air drying is best as hot air from the dryer can shorten the life of elastic. If you must use the dryer, stick with the lowest heat setting.

Avoid fabric softener, too. It coats the fabric and decreases its ability to wick moisture. Chlorine bleach, is also a no-no.

Soak in vinegar or all fabric bleach

If, despite these steps, odor is still a problem, giving them a soak may help

White vinegar can help remove the unwanted smells and it breaks down gunk that can build up. All-fabric bleaches are also good at targeting odor, including Amway Home™ All Fabric Bleach.

Soak athletic gear in a mixture of cold water and half a cup of white vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes before you wash it, or with a measure of all-fabric bleach for a few hours. Afterward, hand or machine wash on delicate and rinse each piece gently in cold water, then air dry.

“Adding another half-cup of white vinegar to your wash’s rinse cycle can help with the off odor too,” Jim said.

Two women and a man are running up some stairs outside to get exercise.

On to the shoes

Bacteria is what makes your shoes smell bad, especially if you don’t wear socks. All those dead skin cells and oils mentioned earlier are hanging around inside your shoes, too.

When you clean shoes, deodorizing them the night before with three tablespoons of baking soda in each shoe will make a big difference. Here’s what you do next:

Sink instructions

To wash shoes in a sink, mix warm water with laundry detergent and give them a soak.

“Bar soap or liquid hand or dish detergent and a towel can be used on the outside to get off the grime,” Jim said. “We recommend Amway Home™ Dish Drops™ Dishwashing Liquid.”

Rinse off the soap with a wet sponge and let them air dry.

For stains and marks, you can also use Amway Home™ All Fabric Bleach again. Make a thick paste by mixing one scoop of the bleach with warm water. Use a toothbrush to scrub the paste on the shoe and then let it stand for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and wipe it clean.

Washing machine instructions

If you want to use the washing machine, remove the insoles or liners of the shoes, and hand wash them separately. Put the laces inside a mesh wash bag so they don’t get tangled.

Use a liquid detergent—powdered soap gets stuck inside sneakers—and the cold, delicate cycle. (Tip: If you put about five towels in the machine, it balances the load and prevents that annoying noise of the shoes slamming around in the washer).

Afterward, air dry, stuffing each shoe with paper towels to absorb water and maintain the shape. Never put shoes in the dryer because the heat can damage the glue that keeps them together.

Learn more

Following these tips will help keep your clothes smelling fresh at the beginning of each workout, giving you that extra boost of confidence at the gym. Are you new to the gym environment? Read 7 Tips for first-time gym members for some advice.

And to learn more about Amway Home laundry products, visit the websites for Amway US or Amway Canada.


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