How To Wash Workout Clothes
By: Daisy Hemmen
Whether you’re working out or working from home, leggings and activewear are an essential part of your daily fit. They keep you comfortable and supported as you move through the day, so it’s only right to return the favor by keeping them carefully laundered and clean.
It’s not quite as simple, however, as tossing them in the washing machine and waiting for them to emerge an hour later, sweat-free and shining. To keep them from pilling or losing their elasticity, you’ll need to take a slightly different approach.
Washing gym clothes and women's activewear is unique to them and their specific fabrics. Keep reading to learn how to wash workout clothes gently and effectively. We’ll take you through a step-by-step process and clue you in on a few expert tips to keep those beloved leggings looking fresher, longer.
So, what is activewear exactly and what's the 101 on washing it? Activewear can be anything from workout leggings to a sports bra that you wear during a workout or when active. Washing activewear is important to make your garments last longer.
After an intense session at the gym—and a long day before that—you might be ready to set your gym bag on the floor and turn in for the night.
“I’ll handle it first thing tomorrow morning,” you think to yourself.
But somehow, four days go by, it’s the end of the week, and your dirty workout clothing is still hanging out where you left it.
We hate to break it to you, but your workout routine isn’t over when you get up from the mat. If you want your gear to last, you’ll have to treat it right, which means starting on the wash process as soon as you can. In fact, letting your gear sit overnight can result in:1
- Permanent stains as the sweat sets in
- Bacteria buildup, which can result in stubborn odors
So, since we don't want our sweaty gym clothes to get ruined and the lingering odor to stink up the place, let’s get back to the basics and get washing.
To Hand Wash or Machine Wash?
While your workout gear is delicate, it’s best to let your washing machine handle the job. This is because the spin cycle helps to loosen all the dirt and sweat that’s built up in your clothing. Hand washing may be gentler, but it may not get rid of the odor-causing bacteria as efficiently.
That said, there are some exceptions when handwashing is preferred or necessary, such as:
- The instructions tag specifically state to hand wash, which is often the case with essentials such as bras and underwear
- If the fabric is delicate, for example, featuring mesh cut-outs or tulle
Step by Step
Now that you’ve unloaded your gear from your gym bag, follow these steps to ensure you’re washing your activewear like a pro:
- Soak – When it comes to getting rid of odors, white vinegar is the magic elixir. Before you toss your workout clothing into the wash, let it soak in a basin of four parts water to one part white vinegar.1 It’s best to do this as soon as you get home, before the sweat and oil have set in. Allow it to soak for at least fifteen minutes or as long as an hour.
- Wash – When your gear is ready for a spin, make sure to choose the cold water setting. That’s because high temperatures can wear out elastics,2 and the last thing you want is for your favorite exercise shorts to lose their stretch. So take care of your activewear and stay away from hot water, and even warm water.
- Dry – To avoid heat, let your clothing air dry whenever possible.3 If you’re in a pinch and need your gear in a few hours, consider putting it in the dryer on the lowest setting and taking it out while damp. However, make sure to read the care instructions first, since some items shouldn’t go in the dryer at all.
Washing Your Workout Gear: Best Practices
When it comes to taking care of your workout gear, you can never pay too much attention to the details. Beyond just the basics, follow these tried-and-true tips to get the most out of your wash:
- Go easy on the detergent – It can be tempting to throw in an extra handful of detergent to get your clothing squeaky clean, but this actually has the opposite effect. Excess detergent can stay in your gear, trapping sweat and oil.3 Instead, trust that the soaking process will break down the dirt and grime for you.
- Wash with lightweight fabrics – It might be tempting to toss your workout gear in the weekly wash with all your laundry—until you witness your delicate leggings becoming infinitely intertwined with a heavy towel. Prevent unnecessary wear and tear by washing your activewear separately from heavy clothing like jackets and long pants.
- Clean out that gym bag – If you’ve been following the cleaning instructions to a T, but your clothing still has that funny smell, it might be time to check out your gym bag. Remember that sweat and dirt will also build up there, so make sure to give it a regular wash as well.
Now that you know the basics of washing sweaty workout clothes, they can stay clean and new all the time. If your gym bag is the culprit, add in some gym bag essentials (like a deodorizer) to ensure the lingering odor of old activewear doesn't transfer to the new.
Boody Eco Wear: Rock Your Workout in Our Eco-Friendly Fabrics
Get the most out of your workout gear by washing all of your favorite essentials—the right way. If some of your staples do get lost in the wash, however, look to Boody's sustainable athleisure for long-lasting, fashionable replacements. Whether you're starting a new workout program or wondering if activewear is the answer to what to wear on a long flight, quality activewear shouldn't be hard to reach.
From breathable, seamless sports bras to relaxed-fit, lightweight tank tops and shorts, our activewear collection is what you’ve been looking for to take your workout to the next level of performance and comfort.
Shop Boody today for mindfully designed, sustainably sourced fitness staples.
About the Author:
Daisy Hemmen is a San Diego State University Fowler College of Business alumni. Based in Encinitas, California, Daisy is a part of the marketing team at Boody North America. She is passionate about learning the ins and outs of living a happy and healthy lifestyle that benefits both people and the planet, and enjoys sharing her bountiful findings with the community.
- "10 Tips for Getting Workout Clothes Clean and Fresh." The Maids Blog. 29 September, 2021. https://www.maids.com/blog/10-tips-for-getting-workout-clothes-clean-and-fresh/
- Biggs, Caroline. "9 Things You Don’t Know About Washing Your Gym Clothes." Apartment Therapy. 3 May, 2019. https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-best-way-to-wash-gym-clothes-263490
- Heid, Markham. "The Right Way to Wash Your Workout Clothes." Shape. 19 February. 2015. https://www.shape.com/fitness/clothes/right-way-wash-your-workout-clothes
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What is Organic Cotton?
By: Heather Bien We’re all trying to be better stewards of Mother Earth. From recycling to upcycling and eating conscientiously to dressing mindfully, our choices affect the planet. So choosing organic cotton clothing seems like an easy decision, right? Not so fast! As with all sustainable choices, it’s important to take a moment to learn a bit more about why organic cotton might win over conventional cotton—and what makes these two materials different in the first place. Read on if you’re interested in learning about organic cotton and whether it’s the best choice for you and the environment. Conventional cotton Before we get into debating modern cotton farming techniques, let’s get familiar with the plant we’re talking about: cotton. It’s soft, durable, and probably on your body right now. But what else do you really know about cotton? Here are the basics: Cotton comes from the cotton plant – The cotton plant is a warm-season woody perennial shrub from the genus Gossypium and the family Malvaceae. Cotton fabric is made from the plant’s fibrous seed-hair (which is also called a cotton boll). Cotton is one of the top agricultural crops – Traditional cotton is the most widespread and profitable non-food crop in the world. Although the plant is capable of growing in any warm-weather climate, India and China are now the top producers of cotton globally. Cotton is thirsty – A normal cotton plant requires 10 gallons of water to reach peak potential. That doesn’t sound so bad, but multiplying it outward, that means it takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce just 2.2 pounds of cotton fabric. Pests think it’s delicious – Not only is cotton thirsty, but it’s prone to pest infestations from bollworms, weevils, aphids, stink bugs, thrips, and spider mites. In order to combat these common pests, conventional cotton is routinely sprayed with a veritable salad-dressing of pesticides, many of which can remain in the soil and water supply for years afterward. Cotton harvesting requires defoliation – In order to quickly and efficiently harvest cotton, many commercial growers use chemical defoliants to strip the leaves from the cotton plant prior to harvesting the bolls. Like pesticides, these chemicals remain in the environment and on the cotton itself. Is organic cotton better? All of those cotton factoids point pretty compellingly to buying and wearing organic cotton fabric. But first, it’s important to understand what sets this organic alternative apart. Why exactly is “organic” cotton anyway? You might associate the word organic with your healthy fruits and veggies, but it’s not always clear what this term means when it comes to cotton. For many years, there was not a standard definition, but today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) require that any cotton product labeled “organic” meet the following criteria: Made with fibers from USDA-certified organic crops Third-party certified (ie., through the Global Organic Textile Standard) under the National Organic Program standards Has a specific percentage of organic material (depending on the crop) But this definition is a little circular, so we need also to define USDA-certified organic crops. According to the USDA, organic crop standards are defined as follows: Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop. Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops. These can be supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials. Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices, including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used. Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available. The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge is prohibited. What is organic cotton? In short, it’s cotton that is farmed according to these practices and certified organic by the USDA. Why should you choose organic cotton? With fewer pesticides, fewer synthetic chemicals, and more thoughtful cultivation practices, organic cotton can certainly offer a more environmentally friendly choice when compared to regular cotton. Is organic cotton sustainable? Here are a few other reasons why organic cotton can be a better alternative for you and the earth: It’s better for our water resources – According to an analysis by the Textile Exchange, producing an organic cotton T-shirt requires 1,982 fewer gallons of water compared to a regular cotton T-shirt. Because organic cotton uses less chemicals, its production also releases fewer toxins into our aquatic ecosystems. It’s good for the soil (and our carbon footprint) – According to the Soil Association, the more natural cultivation practices and fewer pesticides used by organic cotton farmers can support healthier soil. That soil, in turn, can absorb more carbon from our atmosphere and help keep the planet healthy. It encourages biodiversity – Multiple studies have shown that organic farming practices can encourage more diversity among the animal species of our planet. Sustainability is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to plant-derived textiles, the ones which help us create a healthier world are always a better alternative. Explore the benefits of bamboo with Boody Whether you choose to purchase conventional or organic cotton clothing, the fact that you are shopping mindfully for yourself is a win for the environment. At Boody, we believe in bringing you quality, comfy, sustainable clothing basics that keep you feeling good about yourself and your personal impact on Mother Earth. From our sleepwear to our loungewear, women’s bamboo shirts to our underwear, sustainable and ethical are our touchstones. Our clothing is made of bamboo viscose, requiring less water than cotton while putting precious oxygen back into the environment. That just feels good, doesn’t it? Explore the bamboo benefits today, with Boody. Sources: Britannica. Cotton. https://www.britannica.com/topic/cotton-fibre-and-plant Cotton. The Story of Cotton - Where Cotton Grows. https://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/story/where.cfm World Wildlife Federation. Cotton. https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/cotton Textile Exchange. Quick Guide to Organic Cotton. https://textileexchange.org/quick-guide-to-organic-cotton Soil Association. What is organic cotton? https://www.soilassociation.org/take-action/organic-living/fashion-textiles/organic-cotton/ USDA. Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2016/02/29/conservation-and-biological-diversity-organic-production About the Author: Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.