How To Wash Smelly Gym Clothes (Top Tips From A National Bikini Champion)

How To Wash Smelly Gym Clothes (Top Tips From A National Bikini Champion)

Who better to ask about washing smelly gym clothes than a National Bikini Champion - someone who practically lives in the stuff!

Krish Kataria has competed in both British and National Bikini Competitions, bringing home the winner's trophy twice. Getting a body like hers is no mean feat - she has to put in tens of hours of work each week to build muscle, cut body fat and get stage ready. The result? An amazing, World-class physique, plus lots and lots (and lots) of sweaty gym gear.

Working out up to twice a day means the laundry basket gets full pretty fast. Today, Krish is sharing some of her top ways to get smelly gym clothes smelling as fresh, and lasting as long as possible.

Krish's top tips for washing smelly gym clothes

The gorgeous Krish winning the British IFBB Championship in 2015.

1. Only buy lycra leggings

"When it comes to leggings, I strictly limit myself to lycra. I find it's much easier to wash the sweat out of than other materials."

Krish has good reason to be picky when it comes to selecting her workout clothes. Gym gear is designed to wick away the sweat, keeping you both cool and fresh during your workout.

Most materials workout clothes are commonly made of (lycra, spandex, polyester etc) also have waterproof properties. Whilst this is extremely handy during your workout, it does mean sweat can be more difficult to wash out - it gets locked into the fabric and can be hard to remove.

2. Wash smelly gym clothes at 30ºC

"I normally just throw all my gym clothes into the wash at 30ºC, using a normal detergent without conditioner."

We're programmed to think that hotter temperatures are better when it comes to banishing smells and bacteria, but Krish is right to use a moderate temperature of 30ºC.

The materials used in gym clothes are surprisingly delicate, and lower temperatures are better at preserving them. Additionally, when it comes to extracting sweat from these sweat-wicking fabrics, a higher temperature won't provide any benefits.

3. Avoid cotton clothes

krish kataria IFBB CHAMPION
Stay away from cotton when working out.

"Cotton is generally useless when it comes to working out. It's not practical at all, as it doesn't wick away sweat and will make you hot. It also doesn't fare well in the wash - after 3 washes or so it starts to look tired and faded. Because of this, I only tend to wear cotton clothes for brand promotion now."

I think we can all agree - sweat-wicking qualities and staying cool are high priorities when it comes to working out. As cotton doesn't wick away sweat, it gets smellier much faster. It's also the reason you often find hard, armpit sweat patches on your cotton t-shirts. Krish is definitely right on this one - avoid cotton if you want to avoid smelly gym clothes!

4. No white socks

"Similarly to gym clothes, when it comes to socks, I avoid buying cotton. Another thing I avoid is white - I never seem to be able to get them clean, no matter what I try!"

Smelly socks are a problem for many of us. Add a sweaty workout to the mix and the smell is near-impossible to eradicate. Specially designed sports socks will keep your feet cooler, and smell fresher for longer.

Plus, just like cotton t-shirts, sweat is likely to leave stains on cotton socks (especially the white ones). Opt for darker colours and different fabric to avoid this.

Expert Home Tips' tricks for washing smelly gym clothes

We're pretty into the gym ourselves. Pair that with our cleaning knowledge, and we've become pretty adept at keeping every the sweatiest of workout clothes smelling fresh over the years.

Here are some additional things we recommend doing when washing your smelly gym kit.

5. Add vinegar or baking soda to the wash

vinegar in laundry
Natural products can have an AMAZING effect!

The key to getting those locked-in odours out of your gym clothes? Vinegar and baking soda.

These give your detergent extra oomph, by helping to neutralise smells and seeping deeper into fabric fibres.

For best results, add 1 cup of distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle, or 1 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle.

Discover more amazing cleaning uses for baking soda in our other blog post.

6. Air-dry your gym gear ASAP

To prevent sweat from becoming trapped in the fibres of your gym gear, you want to try and air it out as soon as possible.

Avoid shoving in into your backpack or straight in the laundry basket - instead, hang it over a stool or rack and let it air-dry naturally. This will help some of the sweat evaporate, leaving your washing machine with less work to do.

7. Use less detergent

Less really is more!

When it comes to washing your smelly gym clothes, less really is more. Although it seems rational to use more detergent, this will do more harm than good.

Just like sweat, detergent will get trapped in the fibres of your gym leggings and tops, clogging it up and making it less effective at sweat-wicking, resulting in smellier kit.

Use half the amount of detergent you'd use in a normal cycle when washing your workout gear - your clothes will thank you for it!

8. Skip the fabric softener

Skip the fabric softener?! But won't my gym kit end up rough and uncomfortable? Materials such as lycra and spandex are naturally silky - they don't need additional softness that fabric softener provides.

Fabric softener will also add a coating to your gym clothes, hampering their sweat-wicking properties and making it more difficult to wash our sweat and bacteria.

9. Wash your clothes inside out

washing smelly gym clothes
Keep your kit smelling as fresh as you feel! ©Pexels

We sweat from the inside out, so it makes sense to turn your smelly gym clothes inside out before washing.

This will make your wash much more effective, and also help protect the outside appearance of your gym clothes. After all, workout gear doesn't come cheap, so it's worth taking good care of!

10. Don't overwash your gym clothes

Despite common belief, washing your gym clothes after every wear isn't necessary.

If you've had a particularly light workout, or simply worn your gym clothes to carry out your day to day tasks - it is super comfy after all! - there's no need to wash them.

Similarly to jeans, washing your gym clothes less will prolong their lifespan. To neutralise odours and kill bacteria, pop them into the freezer for a few hours instead.

How do you wash your smelly gym gear? Share your tips with us in the comments below!


Stephanie C


Lover of all things fashion & foodie...I look to satisfy my tastes without obliterating my budget. Wannabe interior designer, I'm an avid cushion cover maker and charity shop hunter.

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