How To Wash Workout Clothes: Getting Rid Of The Stink!

How To Wash Workout Clothes: Getting Rid Of The Stink!

Did you know there is a certain way that workout gear should be laundered? Workout gear is made especially to repel water and keep it away from your skin. For this reason, it also holds in odors. Sweat and bodily oils stay in your workout clothes, and nobody wants to smell bad when hitting up the gym!

Have you ever noticed your workout clothes seem to smell bad even after they have been washed? There are many reasons that could be happening.

In fact, some people are washing their fitness gear in a way that is actually negatively impacting the clothing. Knowing what you can and cannot do will prevent making costly mistakes that can actually wreck your favorite workout apparel.

So How to Wash Workout Clothes?

 Soaking Clothes in Vinegar

If you soak your clothes in white vinegar prior to laundering, this will help rid them of sweaty odors. One cup of white vinegar to 5 gallons cold of the water, soaked for twenty to thirty minutes, will help remove odor. Make sure they are soaking in a clean bucket, tub or sink.


For especially stinky clothing, one part vinegar can be diluted with 4 parts of cold water. Clothes should be rinsed prior to machine washing.

 Use Less Soap

Many people feel that using more laundry detergent would help remove unseemly odors from the clothing. However, the exact opposite is true. When cleaning fitness clothing, soaking then using less soap than the manufacturer recommends is the best decision.

There are laundry detergents made just for workout clothes, and some people prefer to use these. Examples of these are Hex, WIN, Sport Suds, and Sweat X Sports.

According to research done by Consumer Reports of 41 detergents used, only 14 of them removed odor and oils from clothing effectively.

 Wash Workout Clothes Separately

There are multiple reasons why you should wash your workout clothes separately. First, clothing that produces or collects lint should not be washed with performance gear. Second, durable fabrics like denim can damage your delicate workout clothing.

Workout clothes should be treated like delicates. They should be washed separately, less frequently and with a detergent that is not harsh.

 Wash in Cold Water

Even though it would seem that hot water would clean better, it is in your best interest to wash workout gear in cold water. Hot water can lead to shrinkage and breakdown of the fabric.

 Add Baking Soda to Wash

Since baking soda is an alkaline, a cup of it added to the wash cycle is a little miracle worker.

 Follow the Garment Care Label

Although this seems like a simple piece of advice, it is shocking how many people don’t read the label. Always read the label to be certain your laundering routine does not break the rules.

 No Fabric Softener

People tend to add more scented detergent and fabric softener to the, particularly stinky clothing. Sadly, fabric softener creates a barrier that locks in the smelly stuff. You heard it here first: fabric softener on your gym clothes is counterproductive. Don’t use it.

The vinegar added to your wash cycle actually does double duty: working to eliminate odors as well as softening fabric.

 Hang Clothes Out to Dry

Hanging clothes outside instead of putting them in the dryer is a natural odor remover and preventer. Sun and fresh air help solve the stink problem.

In addition, hanging instead of using a dryer adds life to your clothes. Every time an article of clothing hits the dryer it takes a bit more of a beating.


A hot dryer can also warp clothes, causing them to lose their shape. In addition, since workout gear is made to wick away moisture, these articles of clothing tend to dry quickly. Keeping clothing in the dryer long after they are dry can cause damage to the item.

If you absolutely must use a dryer, clothes should be dried on low and carefully watched to avoid over drying.

 Turn Clothes Inside Out to Wash and Dry

Inverting your workout clothes for washing helps to remove negative odors. This is also helpful when hanging clothes outside to dry as it prevents fading.

Washing inside out not only cleans the sweatiest, stinkiest part the most but often the treatments put onto clothing to keep them moisture-wicking is often a topical treatment added to the outside. For both of these reasons, washing inside out is helpful.

 Never Leave Clothes…

It is a poor decision to leave your workout clothes in a heap on the bedroom floor or balled up in your gym bag. Understanding that it is not always convenient to wash workout clothes immediately, there are alternatives.

A portable drying rack can be used as a method to store workout clothes between workouts. Some runners are fortunate enough to have a place to hang clothes within the laundry room. This is helpful for hanging clothes between workouts, and also for a place to dry clothes after washing.

Traveling with Workout Clothes

What to do if you are traveling for business or pleasure, and still trying to maintain a workout routine? There are a few important steps to take.

First, hang clothing over the shower curtain rod after a workout to air out. Second, bring a separate, sealable bag to store the clothing in when you must repack your luggage. This will prevent the sweat and odor from touching your other clothing. Third, clothing can be rinsed and reused for longer trips.


Packing your lightest workout clothes will enable you to rinse and reuse the same couple of outfits multiple times throughout a trip.

In a pinch, clothing can be washed using a small amount of body wash. Just rinse completely and hang to dry.

Helping Favorite Items Last Forever

Okay, so maybe your favorite workout gear can’t last forever. That simply isn’t reasonable. However, quality pieces of apparel are not inexpensive.

If an athlete takes care to pretreat items with vinegar, wash using less soap in cold water, and avoid machine drying at all costs, clothing can last longer.

Additional steps like inverting clothes for washing and drying, as well as not washing workout clothes with every use can also add additional life to clothing.

If you take care to wash workout clothes properly, they will last longer smell better!


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