After a hard workout in the gym, no one wants to endure a hard work out at home trying to get those foul odours out. Some smells can be stubborn and linger even after a thorough wash. However, it may not be your washing machine that is the problem. The likelihood is that you have been washing your workout clothes wrong. So, we have come up with our top best ways to wash athletic clothing.

Best ways to wash athletic garments

Unfortunately, a good workout often means a bad smell follows. The combination of sweat and heat that are produced through exercise builds-up bacteria, which causes an unpleasant smell. It is important to clean your gym clothing regularly to prevent bad smells worsening. However, your usual washing routine may be damaging your athletic clothing. It is important to understand how to wash your garments correctly so that you can be smelling fresh. You can ask about these methods or further advice at One Stop’s dry cleaning Milton Keynes.

What are you doing wrong?

The first mistake that most of you gym-goers make is to throw your gym gear on the floor and jump into the shower. By throwing your garments together, you create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow. This bacteria smells and lingers in your clothing, making it harder to remove odours and can often make your clothing smell even after a thorough wash. To make your clothing easier to wash, we recommend that you let your athletic garments air before you place them into the washing machine, this will stop the bacteria from spreading.

Furthermore, sitting in your athletic clothing will also contribute towards foul smells. Bacteria thrives in heat, meaning that your body heat will help odours to spread, making it harder to wash. So, the quicker you wash your clothing, the better.
athletic clothing on the floor

Turn down the heat

Just like your body produces heat and spreads bacteria, applying further heat in the washing machine will only increase the spreading. Not only does heat spread bacteria, but it can also break down the elasticity of stretchy clothing. Athletic clothing is tight to the skin and stretches so that it is comfortable to wear when working out and does not fall. Washing your athletic clothing with extreme heat will make this clothing sag and appear bigger. To save the durability of your clothing, wash your athletic garments with cold water or on a very low temperature. For this reason, it is best to wash your athletic clothing separately to avoid your other clothes from smelling.

Another mistake some people make is machine drying their athletic clothing on high heat. Hot air hinders the longevity of your expensive gym clothing. It is best to either dry your clothing on the lowest possible setting which may take a little longer than your usual wash or to be more economical, air dry your garments on a hanger.

Athletic clothing is designed for comfort and easy wear; the soft material makes maintenance of your garments easier. The non-crinkle material means that you do not have to iron your clothing after every wash. This is designed so that you do not have to apply extreme heat to your garments. Ironing your athletic clothing will damage the elasticity of your garment, making that expensive item less comfortable over time.
washing machine

Special detergents

The usual method that most people take when washing their clothing is to throw in as much detergent as possible in the hopes that the lovely smell will replace the odour of your workout. However, this does not only cause difficulty for your machine to rinse your garments thoroughly but also damages the machine. To make sure that you have the right detergent to tackle your workout smell, use a Sportswear detergent. Sportswear detergents are specially designed to attack bacteria that grows on athletic wear, making sure that those smells do not exit the washing machine.

The washing machine often gets neglected when you do your spring clean every year, but it is important that you regularly empty and clean your machine. Clean out your washing machine at least once a month to ensure that there are no bacteria build-ups within the machine. To clean your machine, put on a hot wash of 60c or higher with no clothes or detergent. For regular maintenance, leave the door of your machine open after every wash to allow the water to evaporate.
pouring detergent

Fabric softener

Fabric softener is a great way to make clothes smell lovely and protect the colour of your favourite garments. Although fabric softener has many advantages, it is important to know what clothing should not be washed with softners and conditions. Athletic clothing is made with special technology that absorbs sweat to keep you cool when exercising. This means that it is necessary to protect the fabric to ensure that your athletic clothing remains durable. Fabric softeners leave a coating on your garments to make them feel soft and keep their appearance. However, this coating prevents athletic wear from breathing and absorbing your sweat.
fabric softener

Natural remedies

There are some great ways to get rid of those stubborn smells with natural products that are lying around the house. Although they do not act as a substitute for washing your garments, they do remove pungent smells ready for a clean wash. One effective method is to use white vinegar. White vinegar helps to remove smells and break down sweat stains, making it ideal for clothes with sweat stains from a previous work out. To use white vinegar, all you have to do is soak your garment in 100ml of white vinegar mixed with cold water. Once you have given your garment a thorough scrub, leave it to soak for at least an hour before placing it into a cold wash.

Another natural method is to use baking soda or lemon juice. Unlike lovely smelling fresheners or detergents, baking soda does not mask the smell of bad odours. The natural chemicals in baking soda absorbs acidic odours, making it the perfect natural remedy for cleaning used athletic clothing. Like baking soda, lemon juice naturally removes odours because of its citric acid. Both of these products can be used within your washing machine alongside detergent. Simply add a small cup of either baking soda or lemon juice to your wash and put onto a cold cycle.

As previously discussed, heat can be the main source for the spreading and lingering of pungent smells on your athletic clothing. If you have a particularly strong odour, placing your athletic garments into a plastic bag and then into a freezer for half an hour, can prevent the odour from spreading. Although this may remove the smell, it is important to wash your garments after to make sure that any bacteria left on the clothing is washed away.


Depending on the odour and how much time you have to spear, different methods are more effective than others. Through trial and error, you can find the perfect way to remove foul-smelling odours, leaving your athletic garments smelling fresh. Some materials will wash easier than others and stains may be harder to remove in certain fabrics. Most athletic clothing is made from similar materials, making it easier to experiment with each method to find the one that works best for you. To read about experimenting with different methods to remove odours from clothing, read Jeannie Kim’s Health Blog about her experience with washing athletic clothing.
fresh smelling clothes

What’s on your label?

If you are unsure on how to clean your athletic clothing correctly, take a look at the washing instruction label on your garment. This label will inform you of the temperature that you should be washing your clothes on as well as further instructions such as dry cleaning and ironing. The most common symbols on your athletic garments will be a tumble dryer with a cross through the middle. This symbol means you should not tumble dry your clothing and instead you should leave it to air dry. Another symbol will be the temperature; this will usually be around 30c. Occasionally, your garment may have a symbol of a hand inside a bowl; this symbol means that you should wash your clothing by hand. It is important to understand the symbols on your clothing to know how it should be washed correctly. For descriptions of each symbol, take a look at Your Clothes blog.
washing label on clothes

How do the professionals do it?

Sometimes, it is hard to get stains and odours out of garments that have not been treated for a while. Overtime, lingering smells and stains begin to worsen and become increasingly harder to remove. If all else fails, treat your athletic wear to a thorough wash. Dry cleaners have a range of specialised products designed to target your specific needs. Although home care can partially remove odours from your clothing, stubborn smells and stains need a professional cleaning service.

If you are unsure on how to clean your sweaty, clinging odour from athletic clothes, talk to one of our professional cleaners about the range of laundry services in Milton Keynes that One Stop can provide for you.