how to care for your workout clothing

When you work out hard, so does your workout clothing. And over time, that can take a toll on them. But with just a little TLC, it’s easy to keep your exercise clothes looking good for longer. Here are nine surefire care tips, plus three signs it’s time to replace your workout gear.

1. Sweat, wash, repeat. You probably feel exhausted after a tough workout, but take an extra minute to wash your clothes immediately after your sweat session so damp clothes don’t funk up your hamper for days. If that’s not feasible, hang them over a rack to dry out, then throw them into a separate pop-up hamper earmarked for the whole family’s activewear; when you have enough for a full load, you can head to the washer.

2. Turn clothes inside out. This will help keep your super cute and colorful workout clothes from fading.

3. Train hard, wash gentle. Choose the delicate cycle and cold water when washing bright, moisture-wicking garments to keep them vibrant and clingy.

4. Get tough to combat odors. Are this week’s workout clothes extra rank? Pre-soak items in a mixture of cold water and a half a cup of vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes. Hint: You can also add another half cup of vinegar to your wash’s rinse cycle.

5. Avoid bleach and fabric softeners. Certain materials used in workout clothing (like Spandex, Lycra, elastane or other performance fabrics) do not stand up well to harsh chemicals. If you’re more of a cotton tee shirt and sweats type of family, you can safely mix those pieces into your regular wash.

6. Choose fragrance- and dye-free detergentAgain, the “cleaner” your laundry products, the less damaging they will be on stretchy fabrics.

7. Don’t over-soap your activewearYou might think an extra shot of detergent will help combat post-workout offensiveness, but excess cleaner doesn’t always rinse out well, and it will build up on your clothing.

8. Don’t forget Laundry 101. Separate brights from whites, and never mix yoga pants with sweaty towels or you’ll get lint transfer.

9. Hang loose. Ideally, you should hang workout clothes to dry. Use special hangers that are designed to avoid creases and indents. To fast track drying time, you can put items in the dryer for 10 minutes, remove and then hang. Give the hems and sleeves a little tug to help remove wrinkles.

Despite your best efforts, there will come a time when you’ll have to say goodbye to beat-up workout clothing. And after all the hard work you’re putting in at the gym, it’s nice to treat yourself to something new once in a while, right? Here are some signs that it’s time for a shopping trip:

  • Stretched-out waistbands and sports bra straps that no longer do the job
  • Faded tags, which indicates long-time use
  • A less-than-fresh scent that will not go away

The good news? Now you have some simple ways to keep your workout clothing in good shape for longer. The bad news? We haven’t yet figured out how to make actual exercise this easy!

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