Taking ActionConsumer Reports


How to wash your gym clothing

Posted at 11:30 AM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 11:49:23-05

You may look great wearing those new workout clothes, but after a few visits to the gym they might not smell so great.

Don't worry, Consumer Reports says: it's not you, it's the fibers in those stretchy moisture-wicking fabrics that hold in the stink.

"Sweat evaporates, but what's left behind are odor-causing chemicals on the surface of the synthetic fibers," said Haniya Rae, Consumer Reports' home editor. "They can be difficult to wash out, and they can build up over time."

Part of the challenge in getting workout clothes clean is that some of them are made from more delicate fibers, and may need special care to protect their shape and fit.

So what can you do to keep your leggings and t-shirts in tip-top shape? First, try to wash them as soon as you finish working out!

"Keeping these synthetics bunched up and damp promotes bacterial growth, which gives off odors, making them smell even worse," Rae said. "Pretreat any stains and turn them inside out! This allows the water and detergent to focus on the oils that have accumulated on the inside of your clothes."

Washing in cold water prevents fading and preserves the fit of these synthetic fibers. Choose the gentle cycle, and if your washer has an extra rinse cycle, use it. And be choosy about which detergent you use!

"Our tests have found not all detergents are up to the task," Rae explained. "The chemicals in sweat and body oil are especially difficult to remove -- and can actually attract other oils that increase odors!"

CR's testing of laundry detergent finds Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release is excellent at removing body oil.