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Mistakes Everyone Makes When Washing Workout Clothes

As high-performing and high-tech as activewear can be (Cooling technology! Moisture-wicking properties!) their synthetic fibers require a delicate touch when washing. Hot water, heat from the dryer, and even fabric softener can cause stretched-out fibers, faded colors, and persistent odors. Ahead, the 7 top activewear laundering mistakes we see people make most often and what to do instead to keep your items 10/10.


1. Throwing damp, sweaty clothes directly in the hamper

Sweat-soaked workout clothes at the bottom of your laundry pile is what leads to set-in smells and mildew growth, so avoid throwing them in the hamper after an exercise session. Instead, rinse your clothes with cool water after removing, then hang dry completely before throwing them in the wash pile. For extra deodorization, add Scented Vinegar in Riviera to your rinse routine: Fill a basin or sink with two capfuls to help neutralize smells from perspiration as well as stains. This solution harnesses the power of pure white vinegar to deeply cleanse odors and residue, while leaving behind the essence of lush grapefruit, aquatic accord, and orange blossom.

the laundress scented vinegar

2. Forgetting to pretreat stains

Yellowing happens when deodorant, sweat, and body oil mingle together on your clothes. Prevent it from popping up in susceptible areas like straps, waistbands, and underarms and treat set-in stains by doing a quick pre-treat before each wash. Apply our high-powered Stain Solution and work in with a Stain Brush to coax out discoloration. For extra tough stains, follow up with a soak in warm to cool water for up to 30 minutes before washing. And for greasy stains like dirt, grime, or oily sunscreen, spot or pre-treat with the Wash & Stain Bar.


3. Using regular detergent and fabric softener on synthetic athleticwear pieces

Regular detergents and fabric softeners tend to leave a heavy coating on synthetic fibers, trapping odors, deactivating moisture-wicking properties, and leading to shapeless, musty-smelling workout clothes. Our expert-crafted Sport Detergent was developed by textile scientists just for stretchy materials to help neutralize set-in smells from body odor, remove stains, and keep activewear in top form.

the laundress sport detergent

Pro Tip: If you’re itching for extra softness, try this trick in lieu of fabric conditioner: Presoak items in a Wash Tub Basin, sink, or tub filled with tepid water and ¼ cup of Scented Vinegar in Riviera. Let sit for up to 30 minutes, then proceed with laundering. Vinegar helps release built up sweat and detergent from fabrics, leaving them softer, more supple, and odor-free, plus the effervescent, coastal Riviera fragrance eases the “vinegary” smell.


Learn more vinegar tricks: 21 ways to use Scented Vinegar in your laundry and home cleaning routine.


4. Washing all your clothes together on hot

Sporty fabrics like nylon, polyester, Lycra, and Gore-Tex are designed to help you handle the heat with sweat-wicking tech and high performance stretch. But washing in hot water breaks down synthetic fibers, leading to dull, shapeless fabrics. Separating out these items and washing with a cool setting will help preserve elasticity and keep items bright and in top form for longer. Choosing a lower agitation (aka spin setting) will protect against snagging and tearing while an extra rinse cycle will ensure all buildup and grime is rinsed away.


5. Throwing items in the wash without turning them inside out

Flipping your pieces inside out before tossing them in the wash really goes the extra mile to prevent color fading and melt away sweat and odors. It also helps to protect items with straps, zippers, and embellishment from tangling or catching in the drum of the machine by washing them inside Mesh Bags.

the laundress mesh washing bag

6. Tumble drying on high heat

Just as hot water breaks down synthetic fibers in the wash, high heat does the same… and also produces pesky pilling. Instead, air dry to protect your pieces’ fits and finishes. We love to gently reshape athletic wear to maintain optimal fit before laying flat or over a drying rack to air dry. If you’re crunched for time, select a low or no-heat setting on your dryer and toss in a set of Dryer Balls to squash static and speed up drying time. For an extra infusion of laundry-fresh scent, spritz them with Sport Spray first. (Psst: Use it to spray away smells between washes and workouts, too!)

how to wash workout clothes

7. Overlooking the need for a machine deep clean

Still faced with stinky situations? The answer could be lurking inside your washing machine. Regularly deep cleaning your appliances is key to clean, funk-free fabrics. Learn how with our washing machine and dryer cleaning guide.


Pro Tip: If you’re only laundering a few garments at a time, consider skipping the machines (or the local laundromat) and hand washing in a Wash Tub Basin instead. Hand washing is gentler on your synthetic fabrics, allowing them to stay brighter and stretchier for longer. Plus, you’ll save on water waste and can get away with using less Sport Detergent. Talk about a win!