If you work out regularly, you’ve probably had it happen before. That sweaty laundry in the hamper starts to stink—and even after you’ve washed it, it might still have a little bit of a funk.
What should you do? Don’t worry—there’s no need to toss out stinky gym clothes. We have some hacks to help get rid of that sweat smell for good!
1. Stop the Problem Before It Starts!
That odor that your gym clothes get comes from a combination of factors: Sweat, body oil, and dead skin cells plus odor-causing bacteria that love to munch on these things.
What this means is to prevent the smell, the best thing you can do is avoid tossing your clothes in the hamper for a couple of days. That just gives the bacteria time to feed (and produce the odor). Instead, wash them right away before the bacteria has a chance to take off.
2. Can’t Wash? Then Hang Your Clothes
When you get home from an exhausting workout, the last thing you want to do is a load of laundry, right? Well, moisture is one of the key components that odor-causing bacteria need to thrive. If you’d rather not do a load of laundry soon, then instead of bunching up your clothes in a hamper, hang them up so that the sweat air dries. That will prevent bacteria from growing until you have a chance to toss them in the washer.
3. Or Freeze Them
Yes, you read that right. If you can’t do a load of laundry, and you don’t want to hang up your clothes to let the sweat dry, then toss them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer. It sounds strange, but freezing them stops bacteria from growing until you’re ready to do laundry.
4. Wash Clothes Inside Out
When you are ready to wash your workout clothes, turn them inside out. Not only does this help protect logos and printed patterns, but it also lets the washing machine and detergent get to the smelliest part of your clothes—the inside, where it’s been rubbing against your skin, collecting oil, sweat, and dead skin cells.
5. Do a Vinegar Pre-Soak
Got stinky clothes? Don’t worry—vinegar is a fantastic odor remover. Mix one part white vinegar to four parts cold water and let your clothes soak for half an hour. Oxygen cleaners can help, too, if you’d rather not use vinegar, but if you use an oxygen cleaner, let the clothes soak overnight.
6. Wash with Baking Soda
Baking soda is another great odor remover. Put a cup in your washing machine when you’re doing an extra-smelly load to get rid of the funk.
7. Don’t Use Fabric Softener
You might love fabric softener for your clothes, but it can be nightmarish where smelly gym clothes are concerned. That’s because fabric softener is designed to coat threads—and that actually works against you by trapping grime and smells in the fabric.
For that matter, fabric softener also lessens the efficacy of moisture-wicking clothes, which makes them both less comfortable, and more prone to picking up a smell.
8. Do Use a Detergent Designed for Gym Clothes
The common advice for washing gym clothes is to use as little detergent as possible because contrary to popular belief, using more detergent doesn’t get clothes cleaner. It just causes a buildup of soap scum, which—much like fabric softener—can make the problem worse.
However, if you’re using a cleaner specifically designed for gym clothes, then you can toss this advice out. These cleaners are designed to remove odors, so follow the instructions to get your clothes clean and odor-free.
There’s nothing worse than hitting up the closet pre-workout only to find your favorite outfit is still a bit smelly. Use our hacks to get rid of that rancid sweat smell—and to prevent it from happening in the first place!