Here’s Why Your High-End Workout Clothing Stinks Even After You’ve Washed It (And How To Stop That)

A decade ago I might’ve only owned 1 or 2 high-end smart fabric golf shirts. These days, my entire fitness wardrobe consists of smart fabric clothing. I’ve got so much Nike Dry-Fit, Under Armour, Adidas, and Pumpa athletic wear that I can do entire loads of laundry for just these items. Since I love down in Florida where it’s hotter than hell for 9 months of the year, I can wear this stuff not just in the gym and on the golf course, but in everyday life…So what’s the problem? Over time, these gym clothes stink like ass even after they’ve been washed.

A guest post on Business Insider by Ann Votaw of the Observer talked about this phenomenon of workout clothing stinking even after it’s been washed. It has to do with the structure of the fabrics:

Cotton T-shirt fibers are rope-like, with lots of nooks and crannies—perfect for absorbing H2O and deflecting body oil. High-tech performance gear, on the other hand, is made of smooth synthetic tubes, similar to fishing line, that deflect water and allow sweat to evaporate off the skin.
Chemicals in this fabric make clothing “hydrophobic,” fearful of water and perspiration. This “wicking” translates into a cooler workout with less friction on the skin. But it also means fabric absorbs body oils, the first event in a foul-smelling melodrama.
Over time, your favorite workout clothes can become the perfect setting for “Germs Gone Wild,” especially if garments live in dark, warm places like gym bags and lockers. Laundry detergents like Tide, which effectively pull stains and odors out of cotton, really don’t work on sports clothes that require simple, alternative treatments to remove sweat. (via)

Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this stinky clothing from happening. A few of the tips Ann suggests to stop your workout clothing from smelling over time are:

1) wash your workout clothing immediately after exercising. Letting it sit in the laundry hamper only allows that stink to set in….Obviously, this isn’t entirely feasible. Not everybody has the chance to do laundry every single time they go to the gym, but this is the best possible way to ward off the stink.
2) Soak your workout clothing in water before washing. This will release the skin oils from your workout clothing. Don’t twist/wring out the water after soaking because this can permanently affect the structure of the clothing fibers, just squeeze it out flat.
3) There are special detergents for workout clothing. One that’s suggested in the Business Insider article is ‘WIN Sports Detergent’ which you can buy on Amazon for $10.95. They say to use this detergent and to run loads of laundry with only gym clothing, and this will ward off the stink.

Follow these steps and you’re good to go, allegedly. (h/t Business Insider)