Activewear is fastly becoming a staple in many wardrobes, and whether or not it is being used for working out these fabrics often times need special care. Our laundry experts Mary Zeitler and Danielle Whah weigh in on how to properly care for these often smelly and hard to clean clothes.

Workout clothes have come a long way in the last few years. More clothing manufacturers are moving towards synthetic materials that can wick away sweat and moisture. These synthetic fabrics do such a great job of holding onto moisture and sweat that they can create a smelly mess if not properly cleaned.


  • Wash Often –

One of the biggest reasons workout gear starts to smell is because sweaty clothes are left in dark, warm and damp places like a gym bag, locker or clothes hamper allowing bacteria to grow. Washing these clothes often will eliminate the odors and buildup over time. Don’t worry about being wasteful, most modern washers use sensor technology to sense the load size and adjust the water and energy-use accordingly meaning that you don’t have to wait for a full load to do laundry.


  • Measure! –

Most consumers overfill when it comes to detergent and too much detergent can do more harm than help, especially when it comes to workout clothes. Modern washers are calibrated to use the ideal mix of water and detergent to get your clothes clean. When too much detergent is added it can not only leave a residue on your clothes but it can also cause build up that can make clothes absorb odors in the future. New features on washers like bulk dispense can help cut down on detergent overload by dispensing the perfect amount of detergent needed for each load. Also, adding the second rinse option to your load will help properly rinse your load of excess detergent and suds.


  • Inside Out –

Turn your clothes inside out before laundering. Most workout gear, especially those made with synthetic materials will trap sweat and odors along the surface of the garment. Turning these garments inside out allows the perfect mixture of detergent and water to penetrate the surface and loosen tough stains and odors.


  • Special Care –

It is important to always check the use and care tag on your garment before laundering. Each clothing manufacturer has tested the best method for each garment and sometimes will recommend using a slightly different method of laundering. Some manufacturers will recommend using powdered detergent in place of liquid and others recommend not using fabric softener, which can decrease the wicking capabilities of some fabrics. When in doubt always check the label first.


  • Pretreat –

Stubborn stains and odors can easily be removed with a little pretreatment. Try applying liquid detergent or a pretreater directly to the stain and allow it to penetrate the material before tossing it into the cycle. One of the biggest contributors to leftover odor is deodorant residue. This leftover residue can trap odors onto the garment even after laundering. To remove, simply turn the garment inside out and pretreat the area before laundering. Adding an extra rinse can also help with these stubborn stains and odors. Finally, make sure the garment passes the sniff test before transferring into the dryer.


As always, make sure to follow the use and care tag on your garment but when in doubt on how to properly wash your garment, it is usually safest to use the delicate cycle on a cool or warm setting. Adding the soak option will help to increase the amount of time the garment comes in contact with the water-detergent mix and increase cleanability.