Activewear is not cheap. While it’s an investment in your health, it’s still clothing that gets beat up every time you wear it. Whether it’s in a kickboxing class or you’re just wearing your workout gear to run errands, this type of clothing usually sees more wear and tear than any of your other garments. Also, because you’re sweating up a storm in it, it needs to be washed every time you wear it—unlike jeans or your favorite jacket that can be washed after every couple of wears.
Taking care of your workout or athleisure gear doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow a few simple steps and your clothes will stay looking and smelling fresh.
1. Wash your clothes ASAP
Dirt and sweat can actually aid in the quick deterioration of clothing fabric. More importantly, heat, sweat and dark places (like laundry hampers or gym bags) are the perfect combo for odor-causing bacteria to breed. This means no more crumpling up your clothes in a pile after your workout. If possible, toss your workout clothes in the wash as soon as you get home. If that’s not an option, it’s better to hang your clothes up to dry before tossing them in the laundry hamper.
Avoid harsh detergents
When it comes to delicates, including activewear, choose a detergent that is natural and/or free of harsh surfactants that can strip color from your garments. And try a formula that is packed with essential oils to keep your workout-wear smelling fresh.
Buy it now: Sport Detergent from The Laundress, $19
Avoiding bleaches and fabric softeners will also help maintain your workout clothes. While bleach can fade colors and break down lycra fabrics often found in activewear, fabric softeners can actually leave a film on these types of clothes. That softening coating may seem great for a fluffy towel, but it can prevent sweat-wicking fabrics from doing what they’re supposed to (and can actually contribute to added bacteria).
Gentle is better
When possible, try to hand wash your activewear garments, especially sports bras. If hand washing isn’t an option, opt for the delicate cycle on your washing machine. You can even use a laundry bag to keep these more gentle items separate from other items in your wash, the same way you’d do it for undergarments.
Keep it cool
Cold wash cycles are better for any clothing, but particularly activewear. High temps can cause shrinkage or the deterioration of tech fabrics that are frequently found in activewear. Also, workout gear tends to be either black or very vibrant, and using cool water to wash these colors will help prevent clothes from looking faded or washed out.
The number one reason to hang dry your clothes instead of using the dryer is shrinkage. But besides the potential to never again wear your favorite pants because they no longer fit, you also want to avoid high temperatures because they break down the fabric. Hanging your clothes or laying them flat to dry will also help maintain their shape.
When all else fails, treat your workout clothes the way you’d treat a delicate bra or a fancy sweater. Doing so will ensure they last for extended periods of time—and you’ll get your money’s worth.