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“Did you ever run behind a slow pack? You get a trailing wind and a lot of body odor.”Steve Prefontaine
Whether you’re sporting high performance fabrics, or a pair of comfy sweatpants and a plain white tee, your gym clothes deserve as much TLC as any garment in your wardrobe.
This article will cover the importance of taking care of your gym clothes, their maintenance requirement, and give you tips on how to care for your gym clothes the right way.
Going to the gym is one of the most rewarding activities.
You put in physical effort, test your physical and mental limits, and (after some time has passed) you get to see the fruit of your labor.
There is absolutely no shame in being proud of going to the gym, you work hard! But they don’t call it “hard work” for nothing. Along with endorphins, your body produces sweat, and a whole new body odor after a good workout. You may be able to get rid of this after a good shower, but what happens to your smelly clothes after you hit the gym?
Let’s say you’ve clocked in some decent gym time, showered, rested up for the night, and feel like going to the gym again tomorrow –but you’re out of clothes. Do you go back to the hamper? Pull out your favorite shorts and tank top, and check to see if they pass the non-clinical whiff test?
As clothing care experts, we’d go with no, and here’s why…
To avoid infection
In medicine, there is a rule: too much or too little of something is never good. Despite our grooming habits, our bodies have a population of normal flora living on our skin in the form of bacteria, yeast, and fungi. Don’t freak, the normal flora are essentially “good”, in the sense that they help maintain the balance between good and bad bacteria.
When you sweat, you create a favorable environment for the normal flora to reproduce. It is important to keep in mind that sweat doesn’t actually smell like anything. In fact, it’s only when bacteria mixes with your sweat that you start to stink. So even after light workouts, your gym clothes soak up bacteria-riddled sweat. This puts you at risk for developing skin irritation, along with all kinds of dermatologic diseases ending in -itis (like dermatitis, folliculitis, to name a few).
To prevent stain damage
Dirt, Rust, Sweat… There a number of things at the gym ready to leave their mark on your comfortable workout clothes. Not to mention the chemical reaction between sweat and oxygen is responsible for the yellowish discoloration in your favorite gym shirts (most notably found under your pits).
You should think of your gym clothes like you do your underwear:
Wash after each use.
Dermatologists recommend the “wash after wear” approach because it decreases the occurrence rate of infection by promptly eliminating the sweat and bacteria in your garment. You don’t have to scrub your shirt silly. Set the washer to gentle, use cold water, and air-dry your clothes!
Dry them out
Before you pop into the shower, make sure you hang your clothes up to dry. Allowing your clothes to further soak up sweat predisposes them to increased bacteria growth, resulting in smellier clothes.
Turn them inside out
It’s the microfibers inside of our clothes which come in direct contact with the bacteria and sweat that build up between them, causing the garment to stink. Turning them inside out will make it easier to wash away the built up dirt, sweat, and bacteria.
Pre-soak them in vinegar
A solution made of one part vinegar and four parts water will get rid of the dirt in your gym clothes. Body Soil is a combination of oil, dead skin cells, and sweat. The acidic nature of vinegar eliminates body soil and frees trapped bacteria.
Wash after each use
Washing your gym clothes as soon as possible not only prevents skin disease and infection, but it also prevents permanent stain damage.
Cold water is gold, warm water works too
The majority of activewear is made from synthetic fabrics which are best washed in cold or warm water. Washing them in hot water can damage the microfibers in the garment, leading to shrinkage.
Hot water for anything cotton
Cotton socks, cotton towels, cotton T-shirts. Hot water is the most powerful tool at your disposal when it comes to cleaning, removing odors, and disinfecting durable fabrics like cotton.
Don’t go crazy on the detergent
It’s not like Nutella where: the more you put, the merrier! If you’re rocking modern technology activewear, chances are your garment is made up of microfibers that are water resistant. It’ll resist water and sweat, that’s for darn sure. But excess amounts of detergent that contain the dirt from the wash? It might just stick to the microfibers. Go with two teaspoons max of liquid detergent for a full load.
Add a deodorant
Eliminate stink by adding vinegar. If you’re not a fan of the vinegar smell, but you still want to use an all natural formulated odor eliminator, fresheners like this ought to do the trick. Big names like Arm and Hammer, Zero Odor, and Borax are among many other odor eliminating products you can choose from.
The Ultimate No-No: Fabric Softener
Don’t get me wrong, they’re plenty useful. But not for your gym clothes! First off, they’ll reduce the elasticity of your gym clothes by breaking down the elastic fibers. Second, they work by coating the fibers in your clothes to make the garment feel silky smooth. In doing so, they’ll end up trapping the sweat, bacteria, and stink in your clothes.
Air-drying trumps machine drying
Activewear is mighty delicate. Just as hot water can cause shrinkage, the high temperature setting on your dryer can do the same. If you really need to dry the garment, go with air-only, or the lowest heat setting your machine has.
All in all…
Your gym clothes deserve as much care as your body does.
Much like your body, you want them to live up to their full potential and to last for as long as they can.
So go the extra mile and take care of your gym clothes.
Get fit, and smell like a rockstar while doing it.
This article was brought to you by
FREY is men’s fashion brand made up of environmentally conscious idealists who specialize in making clothing care products aimed at:
Preserving your clothing.
Preserving the environment
Feel free to check out the entire clothing care line here.
Save your clothing, save the Earth, and smell good while doing it.
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