Little is more annoying than spending upwards of $100 on a pair of super-nice yoga pants—only to have them start to fall apart on you soon after purchasing. It’s not necessarily that the quality is poor; sometimes we only have ourselves to blame for the shockingly rapid disintegration of our favorite workout clothes. The truth: a lot of times, we don’t really know the proper way to wash and care for them.
The challenge lies in that workout clothes are often made of incredibly delicate fabrics, but are also made to withstand lots of heavy activity. They seem like they can withhold any kind of wash you want to put them through—but that’s not always the case.
Read on for five easy ways to wash your workout clothes and extend their life!
The most important thing: don’t let your exercise gear soak in sweat. Not only does it make them smelly—over time, if you let your workout clothes sit and soak in sweat, it can actually allow for growth of things like mold and mildew. This is gross, sure—but it also wears down on the fabric in your clothes. As soon as you get home from the gym, take off your clothes and hang them to dry.
After they’ve mostly dried out, soak the clothes in one part vinegar, four parts water for about 20 minutes. This will help kill off any remaining bacteria in the clothes, thus prolonging their life even more.
“You must wash in color loads,” Tone It Up trainers Karena and Katrina say. “Wash only blacks with blacks, pnks with pinks, and so on. Wash in cold water if they're bold colors.” This will prevent darker-colored pieces from bleeding onto white pieces, and help protect the longevity of all colors.
“Never wash your workout clothes with towels, because the fibers can stick to the nylon fabric,” Karena and Katrina say. The rough texture of the towels can also add unnecessary wear and tear on your workout gear.
Since many workout clothes are considered tech gear—made from special fabrics that wick sweat, insulate heat, and so forth—it’s best not to toss them in the dryer. Hang dry them again, or (if it’s available to you) put them somewhere where they can dry in direct sunlight. Sun is a natural bacteria deterrent, and will help keep your workout clothes cleaner for longer.