Your running buddies will thank you.
Ever wonder why your running gear can sometimes smell bad even after you’ve washed it? It’s called the “rebloom” effect, according to Proctor & Gamble. Moisture-wicking performance fabrics, which do an amazing job of sending wetness to the surface of the fabric to keep you cool and dry, tend to have extra nooks and crannies that cling to dirt and odours, says laundry expert Mary Marlowe Leverette, who works as a consultant to detergent manufacturers, consumer textile distributors and appliance developers.
Laundry detergent has a hard time penetrating those grooves, and can even trap the bad stuff in. And since performance fabrics dry super fast, some of us forget they’re actually dirty. So instead of throwing them in the wash, we watch six episodes of Orange Is the New Black, and then head out to grab a smoothie. It’s a stinking time bomb.
Want to make sure your (sometimes absurdly expensive) sweat threads stay fresh? Follow the quick tips below and you’ll avoid all embarrassing smells (and side-eyes at the gym.)
Air ‘Em Out
Rolling super sweaty workout clothes into a tight ball and sending them to the bottom of your hamper might help with your laundry anxiety, but those clothes will become a breeding ground for bacteria – and all those nasty odours will stay right where you left them, says Leverette. If you’re not doing laundry right away, lay out sweaty clothes so they can breathe in the fresh air.
Go Easy on Detergent
Whether you’re using a special sports detergent (like Nathan’s Sports Wash) or regular detergent, don’t add extra suds to your washing machine with hopes that they’ll work overtime on sweat smells. (You’re asking for extra soap scum on your clothes, which can cause a buildup of mold and mildew – it’s actually a food source for bacteria, says Leverette.) Two teaspoons of high performing brands is usually more than plenty per load of laundry, says Leverette. Or, try half or three-quarters of the amount of detergent that you normally use and perform a sniff test to hit the sweet spot.
Skip the Fabric Softener
Liquid or sheets, you don’t want this stuff near your workout gear. Fabric softeners can clog the fibres of performance fabrics, keeping water and detergent from getting into those grooves for a deep clean, and messing with moisture-wicking and odour-fighting properties.
Wash Clothes Inside Out
Flipping clothes inside out helps detergent get to work on the smelliest parts of your threads (the areas that were in direct contact with your skin). Plus, this move will help protect the colour in your favourite neon yellow top, too.
Toss with Vinegar
To deep clean any odours that just won’t quit, try soaking clothes in one part white distilled vinegar and four parts cold water for 30 minutes. Another solution for stripping clothes of old odours is to mix a solution of oxygen bleach with cool water, and let the clothes soak overnight, says Leverette.
The article 5 Ways to Save Your Workout Clothes from Eternal Stinkiness originally appeared on Women’s Health.