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Consumer Reports: How to wash your gym clothing

Workout clothes.JPG
Posted at 4:00 AM, Jan 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-01 06:01:02-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - You may look great wearing those new workout clothes, but after a few visits to the gym, they might not smell so great! But 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," says Consumer Reports Home Editor, Haniya Rae. "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," says Rae. "Pretreat any stains and turn them inside out! This allows the water and detergent to focus on the soils 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," syas Rae. "The chemicals in sweat, and body oil, are especially difficult to remove, and can actually attract other soils that increase odors!”

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

Another tip: Be sure to read the detergent label and measure out the recommended amount. Excess detergent can cause residue that remains in your clothes, which can then trap odors! And don’t toss them in the dryer! While directions may vary, most experts suggest air-drying synthetics, even laying them flat, to protect the shape and fit.