You’re packing your bag and looking forward to hitting the gym today after work. But, as you reach into your dresser and grab your favorite workout gear, a less-than-fresh odor wafts up. You cringe. You can’t go to the gym smelling like that! Sound familiar?

Working out is excellent for your body and mind, but it’s disheartening when your expensive high-performance gym wear starts to get that tough-to-overcome post-workout stink. You’re not alone if you’re wondering how to get the smell out of workout clothes. It’s a common struggle that most fitness enthusiasts face at one time or another.

The good news is with a few tips and the right products, you can keep your workout clothes smelling great – no matter how intense your session was.

Why Do Your Workout Clothes Stink?

Sure, sweat isn’t the best smell on earth, but there’s more to it than that. When you break a sweat, you’re not only releasing water and salt but also trace amounts of proteins, fats, and minerals. Bacteria love to feast on these nutrients – and as they do, they release waste products that have their own distinct (and unpleasant) odor.

What’s more, certain fabrics tend to hold on to smells more than others, and polyester, nylon, and Lycra (the most common workout clothing materials) are among the worst offenders.

9 Tips for Cleaning Workout Clothes

Cleaning workout clothes to keep them smelling fresh or overcome well-entrenched odors takes a little more attention to detail than your regular wash items. But, it’s not difficult once you get into the habit. So here are our top 9 tips!

1. Look for Antimicrobial Fabric Technology

Ok, first things first, the best way to deal with unpleasant workout clothing smells is to prevent them from taking hold in the first place. One approach is to look for workout clothing brands that feature anti-microbial fabric technology to reduce or eliminate odor-causing bacteria.

2. Get Your Gear Into The Wash ASAP

The sooner you get your workout clothes into the wash, the better. Bacteria multiply quickly, so it’s best to nip any smells in the bud as soon as possible. If you can’t wash your clothes immediately, at least take them out of your gym bag and hang them up to dry before putting them into the hamper.

3. Give Them a Soak

If your gym clothes have developed a stubborn odor that regular washing fails to remove, or if you’re looking to get out in front of tough odors before they set in, white vinegar is your friend.

Mix up a solution of one part vinegar to four parts water, toss in your athletic garb, and let it soak for at least a half hour. (Don’t worry if you forget to remove your garments for a few hours, they’ll be fine). This little trick is a true game changer, but why does it work? Vinegar’s acids help break down sweat and minerals while cutting through oils that cling to fabric and trap bacteria.

4. Turn Your Athletic Wear Inside Out

Turning clothes inside out before washing them is a sound practice, no matter what kind of garments you’re cleaning. It keeps clothes looking newer for longer by preventing wear and fading on the outside of the fabric. With gym clothes, turning them inside out is even more important before you toss them into the washing machine. Why? Because there are a lot more odor-causing bacteria on the inside of your gym clothes than on the outside.

5. Get Your Detergent Dose Right

When it comes to washing smelly workout clothes, resist the urge to reach for the detergent and pour in a generous amount. Synthetic fabrics don’t rinse as easily as other textiles. Too much soap will leave an unwanted residue on your clothing that degrades moisture-wicking performance and traps body oils and dirt that bacteria thrive on. You’ll be surprised how much cleaner your workout garb will come out using less detergent. It’s better for the environment too!

6. Try a Sports Laundry Detergent

If you find that your regular laundry detergent isn’t quite doing the trick, you might want to consider a sports laundry detergent. These products are specially formulated to penetrate technical fabrics, remove sweat and dirt, break down oils, and eliminate odor-causing bacteria.

Want to give your regular detergent more power? Try adding a cup of baking soda to the wash cycle to help neutralize any lingering odors in your clothes.

7. Choose Your Wash Cycle and Water Temperature Wisely

Always select the gentle or delicate cycle when you wash your workout clothes. Hot water accelerates the breakdown of synthetic fibers, so always use cool water to prolong the useful life of your workout gear and preserve its shape and fit. If you’re looking to give your gym wear a little extra TLC, consider using a mesh bag in the washing machine. This will help to prevent pilling, snagging, and fabric damage that can shorten the lifespan of your gear.

8. Line Dry or Tumble Dry on a Low Heat Setting

Another way to extend the life of your favorite workout clothing is by hanging it to dry. It’s your best option if you have the time and space, but if you’re in a hurry, tumble dry your gear on a low heat setting. High heat can degrade synthetic clothing fibers affecting their elasticity, shape, and moisture-wicking performance.

9. Outsource Your Smelly Gear

Working out is hard enough, so if you’re struggling with smelly workout clothes, try sending them to the pros at your local ZIPS Cleaners. Our unbelievably low prices and top-notch service are legendary! At ZIPS, we make having fresh clothing a breeze because we understand that your time is precious. We treat your garments right to maximize their longevity and keep you looking (and smelling) your best.