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You're Doing It Wrong: Washing Your Gym Clothes

Nothing feels better than finishing up a good old fashioned sweat session.

On the flip side, the not-so-fun part is when you have to do laundry. Can you rewear soiled gym clothes? How exactly should you be washing them to keep them looking brand new and pill-free? If you workout on the regular, like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Jenna Dewan Tatum, these are likely burning questions you have. After all, you paid good money for your athleisure looks, so it makes sense that you’d want to keep them in pristine condition.

For the dos and don’ts, we consulted Yoon Chung, chief merchant at Carbon38 for the what’s what on washing your workout wear.

Be Diligent About Washing: You wear your jeans multiple times before you wash them, so shouldn’t the same go for your leggings? According to Chung, that’s not the case. “I recommend washing after each workout as the odor-causing bacteria can clog pores, cause skin breakouts and yeast infections,” explained the pro. Same washing rules apply for your undies!

The Underwear Question: So should you or shouldn’t you? Some people prefer to go commando (because panties bunch and chaffing is a real thing), but others prefer to keep all their bases covered—literally. So what’s right? “It’s up to each individual, more of a personal preference,” she shared. 

Follow the Instructions: Each item is made differently with different fabrics so, first and foremost, be sure that you are following the wash instructions on the garments themselves. Some require a hand wash and some can be tossed in the washer, no problem. You’re just going to want to keep the water cold. “Hot water can break down textiles and can lead to shrinkage,” warned the expert. Same goes for dryer heat, so be sure to hang dry. 

Detergents, Softeners and More: “Using fabric softeners, optical brighteners or fragrances are a big no-no,” she shared. If you ever wonder why your leggings come out of the washer with a white residue it’s likely because you’re using one of the above. Those can get in between and clog the fibers of the fabrics, which can limit their ability to wick sweat and fight odors. As for regular laundry detergent? That’s an absolute must—it eliminates sweat and bacteria buildup.

Separate by Color: Feel free to batch wash your bras, legging and tops, but separate them by color. “Whites and bright colors can be washed together, but separately from the dark colors,” elaborated the pro. Additionally, if you have fancier active wear (ex: anything with zipper detail) throw those items in a lingerie bag. “Zippers can rub against performance fabrics during the wash cycle and cause fraying and pilling,” she warned.

If Your Clothes Still Have a Stench: Sometimes, for whatever reason (no matter how many times you throw them in the wash) your clothes still hold tight to a weird odor. If that’s the case, the pro has a trick: Pre-soak your workout clothes in a mixture of cold water and half a cup of white vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes.

There you have it!

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