When Should I Replace My Favorite Leggings?

leggings

No matter how hard you try to change it up, those show-stopping leggings always seem to find their way to the top of the pile. How many times is too many? It’s actually a lot less than you think.

Workout wear, like our furniture, cars, or shoes, have an expiration date. Not heeding the signs can put your fitness game (and health!) at risk. When it comes to leggings, you’re looking at a period of six months to a little over a year, depending on the intensity of your workouts and how often you rock them as street style.

Why the short life span? There’s two major reasons: performance and your health. Keep reading for a complete run-down on why it’s so important to be aware of your leggings’ lifespan.

Performance

Today’s expertly designed activewear does provide a little push back to performance life span, but not much. Technical fabric with sweat wicking and/or compressive features fade as time passes, making them ineffective and your exercise uncomfortable. Adding fancy new workout wear to your lineup every few months may seem unnecessary, but having correctly fitting and performing gear will actually make your workouts more effective and lower your chances of getting injured.

Signs you’ll need to replace your leggings: when the fabric begins to pill or become more sheer, compressive leggings become easier to put on and legging fabric takes longer to dry, leaving you feeling soaked and slippery during your workout.

If any of these signs start to appear, it’s definitely time to replace them with the next “it” leggings you’ve been eyeing up!

Health

Another reason to ditch worn-out leggings? Holding onto your most coveted stretchy pants can have adverse effects on your health. Fabric—regardless of type—holds onto bacteria more than any other type of surface, which can cause some serious damage to your body. Even though our workout gear is some of the most washed items in our wardrobe, it, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be holding up after a year, especially when it comes to fabrics with a higher cotton blend. Fabrics with a higher nylon or spandex holds their shape as well as release sweat more efficiently, keeping it a little more sanitary for a longer period of time.

Signs you’ll need to replace your leggings: Fabric starts to fade in areas of high sweat, stains are harder to remove, and chafing or irritation starts to become an issue.

Is there at least a way to make them last so you can get the most love possible out of them? Yes! If you care for your leggings properly and rotate them regularly, you can keep them performing well and more sanitary with the following care tips:

  • Darker colors tend to keep their color and wear better over time, so if you can choose your favorite style in a deeper hue, you’re already setting yourself up for success.
  • Technical fabric requires a little more TLC when it comes to it’s washing regimen. Using dye-free detergent and washing your gear in cold water helps keep the technical properties intact. Avoid using dryer sheets or fabric softener, as that will clog up the wicking properties of your leggings. It also adds to the bacteria issue, since moisture will start to get retained for longer periods of time as a result. Stick to line drying instead of the dryer as well, as heat can cause them to break down faster as well as restrict breathability.
  • Try to keep your leggings for the gym only! Wearing your leggings for longer periods of time cause them to break down faster. If they’re too fabulous to pass up for a street styling, try to keep another pair strictly for athleisure. Your body with thank you when it comes to performance in the studio!

It’s never going to be easy to let your favorite piece go, but the above information can help you make the right decision. Become a pro at caring for your leggings, and come up with a rotational game plan, and you’ll be set to keeping them functional and clean. Here’s to a very happy, long life of stretchy pants love!

Mandy Gragg is a San Francisco-based personal trainer/group fitness instructor and a fitness fashion and beauty blogger.