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Here’s How You Should Be Washing Your Workout Gear

Photo credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Photo credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Workout gear exists in a garment category all its own. Designed to be super-durable, odor-repellent, and performance-friendly, it’s not nearly as delicate as our everyday wardrobe. But as such, it warrants washing techniques you might not use on your standard laundry.

That said, many of your washing woes can be combated by selecting the right types of gear and fabric in the first place. To help you navigate the ins and outs of purchasing and cleaning workout wear, here’s what you need to know before your next laundry day. 

What to know before you buy:

One of the most important attributes of workout clothing is that it wicks moisture. This both discourages chafing and ensures your sweat isn’t absorbed by the fabric, causing odors. Cotton, for instance, is an absorbent fabric, which will trap odors and become weighed down. Polyester aids the growth of bacteria, too. Those who engage in sweat-heavy workouts should look for synthetic fabrics, which are often formulated to resist absorbing sweat.

It’s also essential that workout fabrics are appropriate for the activity. If you use machines at the gym or cycle, clothing should be form-fitting so as not to snag in gears. Typically, loose clothing should be avoided for activities like yoga and dance where you’ll want to be aware of your form. And as far as compression clothing is concerned, this study indicates that basketball players and runners benefit most from the tight clothing.

For those who exercise outdoors, consider purchasing clothes with reflective panels to be more visible to traffic.

Now, here’s how to wash it:

In the event you already have drawers stuffed with old race t-shirts and years’ worth of spandex, don’t freak out; you don’t need to blow your paycheck on a new wardrobe. There are plenty of ways to keep your gear in tip-top shape. The first step: buy a quality detergent that’s not overly diluted, and don’t use too much. According to Shape, buildup of detergent can lead to mildew growth. If you’re serious about your workout game, you might want to use a detergent specifically made for the aforementioned performance materials.

Ditch fabric softener. Though the goal is to keep your clothes fresh, fabric softener also leaves behind a film that can make it less absorbent (good for sweat, bad for the water needed to clean your clothes). Then, be sure to read the washing instructions on your clothes’ tags. Because synthetic fabrics can be unique, they may warrant specific directions, like rinsing in cold rather than warm water.

From there, turn all over your clothes inside out, use half to three-fourths the amount of standard detergent, add two ounces of white vinegar to the cycle to destroy odor, and last but not least, hang dry. Ta-da! Fresh, odorless workout clothes!

And if you think your gear might be a lost cause? Read this guide to find out when to toss it. (Tip: If it has gaping holes, throw that sucker in the garbage — now.)

For more information on how Independence Blue Cross can be a part of your plan for health and wellness, click here.

Sponsor content is created for IBX by Philadelphia magazine as a marketing collaboration with IBX. This material is intended for reference and information only and should not be used in place of advice from a doctor or suitable qualified healthcare professionals.