Unlike regular clothing, our sportswear is made with special properties that require special care and wash procedures to maintain them.
Textile engineers are crafting feature-packed fibers that are used to create comfortable, stretchy, and breathable activewear.
Downstream of the process, brands are nailing down the design details to produce comfortable and stylish apparel for optimum performance. All hands are on deck for our comfort!
If you’ve wondered why sportswear is so $pecial and expen$ive, see my post on all the activewear fabric features you can’t do without.
A lot of engineering is going into our workout clothes, and the end result is a hefty price tag!
Your activewear is essentially an investment, and you need the proper tools to maintain them. So here’s how you can take care of your activewear to have them last a few more seasons of Grey’s Anatomy!
1. Do Air Dry After Every Sweat Sesh
If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve probably worn your leggings more than once this week. You can’t help it, you just look like a flame ball in those leggings. You sweat, air-dry, and repeat.
Bacteria thrive in moist environments, such as ahem.. your sweaty leggings. To prevent fabric deterioration, you should air-dry your activewear after each workout.
Unfortunately, air-drying alone doesn’t remove the odor-causing bacteria in your clothing, hence that faint smell that builds up wear after wear.
It’s recommended to wash your activewear after each wear, but that’s not always sustainable.
If one hour of laundry every other day is a time luxury you can’t afford, consider shopping anti-microbial activewear to prevent bacterial growth and for odor control.
2. Do Soak Activewear Before Washing
Air-drying, steaming, and febreezing are all ways to get more wears out of your worn activewear. However, these practices aren’t effective in removing dirt.
Soak your activewear in four parts cold water mixed with one part white distilled vinegar to get rid of the bacteria that have made your workout clothes their home.
I’m super sensitive to the smell of vinegar, but I find that the vinegary smell disspapears after a good long wash. You can also pour 1 cup (depending on your load) into the washer to achieve the same effect.
3. Do Wash Activewear In A Mesh Bag
The abrasion during all that tumbling in the washer isn’t good for your smooth and soft activewear fabric. Plus your clothes wind up in a tangled mess, grasping on to any zipper or button they come in contact with.
If you’ll be washing your activewear with your regular clothing, put your like-colored activewear in a mesh bag before tossing them in the washer.
Regular clothing is mostly made from cotton, which is highly susceptible to pilling. These loose cotton fibers can abrade your activewear fabric, causing them to pill too over time.
Put your precious activewear in a mesh bag to protect your activewear fabric from grasping onto those pesky little fiber-balls.
Also, fasten all zippers, hooks, bra clasps, and other fasteners on your clothing to prevent your sportswear fabric getting snagged in the washer.
4. Don’t Use Fabric Softeners Or Bleach
It’s okay to use fabric softeners while washing regular clothing, but they are a cardinal sin when it comes to activewear fabric care. The performance-enhancing features in your activewear fabric can degrade with frequent use of fabric softeners and bleach.
Fabric softeners work by coating the surface of clothing and lifting the fibers to the surface to create a fluffy texture.
These magical little sheets also prevent static force that’s generated due to friction in the washer and leave your clothing smelling like a heavenly garden. A complete disaster for your activewear!
Performance activewear fabric is infused with chemical treatments to improve the durability and function of the fabric.
External chemical agents, like those present in fabric softeners, can react with the treated fabric and cause the properties to degrade.
Likewise, as tempting as it may sound to bleach your white activewear, DON’T! I have OCD when it comes to maintaining my white clothing, but I know bleaching activewear is a dangerous game.
Air-dry and wash your workout clothes ASAP to prevent dye-eating bacteria from discoloring your activewear.
You already have buttery-soft leggings, so skip the fabric softener and go for a plain wash!
5. Do Wash In Cold Temperature Water
If you’ve sweat up an ocean on your activewear, pre-soak in the vinegar mixture as described above. Wash your activewear in cold to room temperature water to effectively get rid of dirt while maintaining the fabric properties.
At this point, the vinegar has done most of the work to kill the bacteria. Now you need the surfactants in detergent to pull out the dirt and soil from your activewear.
Wash your bacteria-free sportswear with a mild and hypoallergenic detergent in cold water.
You should know that the ideal water temperature for washing activewear is 30C.
Activewear fabric is made to be resilient but will react adversely to heat or harsh chemical detergents.
6. Do Dry Activewear On A Rack
It’s generally advisable to skip tumble drying because of the negative effect of high heat on activewear fabric. Thanks to Mother Nature, you can air-dry your activewear outside safely, and for free!
I prefer to air dry on a rack rather than line-drying because of the wrinkle that lines leave on clothing. Head straight to Amazon for the best affordable clothing drying racks delivered to your doorstep in 2 days.
However, air-drying isn’t going to cut it if you need to wear your currently wet leggings for your spin class in 30 minutes.
In this case, wring your clothing to get excess water out and tumble-dry at the lowest heat for 10-20 minutes.
Try to make a habit of air-drying on a rack and stick to an 80-20 rule to include emergency tumble-drying situations.
Also, air-dry your clothing inside-out and away from direct sunlight to prevent the color from fading.
7. Do Avoid Abrasion
You should be mindful about rubbing your activewear on rough surfaces while you wear them and this is more likely to happen at the gym.
I know you’re ready to crush your ab circuit but don’t forget your mat. Try to avoid unnecessary abrasion against gym equipment. Your leggings will love you for it!
Also, if pilling is a constant nuisance in your life, look out for activewear with pilling resistance or abrasion resistance. This fabric feature will ensure that your leggings maintain that smooth second skin feel.
8. Do Fix Clothing Defects ASAP
A loose stitch turns into a ripped seam, and the ripped seam turns into a larger ripped seam until your entire life unravels. Okay, that was dramatic!
The point is, it’s best to repair any clothing defects as soon as they occur.
Stitches can easily get snagged by other garment parts as they tumble in the washer. Cut any loose threads to prevent more stitches from unraveling.
Likewise, over time, stitches get weaker and may cause the seams to rip apart. I recommend fixing these ASAP because it can only get worse.
Head over the nearest laundry/dry cleaning service near you, or learn a few easy stitches and get to work yourself!
Maintenance is key if you want your workout clothes to withstand the test of time. Take proper care of your activewear so that you can get your money’s worth!
Still not sold on the benefit of adopting better laundry habits?
Another incentive for taking proper care of your workout clothes is the potential of reducing environmental pollution. The longer you use your activewear, the less you contribute to the landfills.
What tips do you have for washing your activewear? Share your tips with us in the comments!
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