Runners (and our spouses) know that offensively pungent smell coming off our running clothes all too well. For a long time, I was certain that I would have to concede to the stank and toss out a few of my favorite running shirts. The smell was not coming out of my running clothes! After some experimenting and changing out my detergent, I’ve figured out the best way to wash my running clothes. Here are my simple steps and tips to more efficiently washing running clothes to get that runner’s stench out of your athletic wear.
Tips for Washing Running Clothes
Before tossing your sweat drenched running clothes into the hamper, air dry them. This will help your running clothes not get as stinky in the first place.
Do Not Use Softeners
There’s some fancy, scientific reason behind this. In non-fancy person speak, the fabric softener acts as a coating on fabric and can actually trap bad smells in and prevent the fabric from wicking sweat.
Similar to fabric softener, many detergents also coat the fibers of clothes to trap the bad smells in. Use less of it when washing your running clothes.
Better yet, use a detergent intended for sports clothing. It will add to your running expenses, but you’ll use way less. My bottle of Win Sports Detergent says 32 washes per bottle. I get double that since I have an energy efficient washing machine. I use Win, because when I asked my local running shop what they recommended, this is what they suggested. I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the smell of my running clothes! This is not a sponsored post.
Steps for Washing Running Clothes
1. Wash Separately
Separate your workout clothes from your regular clothes.
2. Turn Garments Inside Out
Protect the outside of your running clothes by turning them inside out. This way, if you forget to do the next step, your favorite shirt from your first race ever doesn’t end up with a giant snag on the front. Yes, I’m speaking from experience.
3. Zip It Up
Close zippers and velcro. Snap your bra clasps closed. Not to be redundant, but again, this helps prevent snags in your clothes.
4. Buddy System
“Do you have your buddy?!” Gather socks into their pairs. Make sure every sock has its buddy before you toss them into the washer. You don’t need to attach them to each other, but this will prevent you from leaving any in the laundry basket.
5. Machine Wash Cold
My washing machine has an “Active Wear” setting that I use, and I manually adjust the water temperature to cold.
Tips for Drying Running Clothes
No Dryer Sheets
Do not use dryer sheets! Dryer sheets also create a film on your clothes much like fabric softeners and can diminish the effectiveness of the wicking material. When I first stopped using dryer sheets, the static was out of hand! But over time, the more I wash and dry my running clothes without fabric softeners and dryer sheets, the static has died down.
All of the labels in my running clothes say something different, and I bet you’ll find the same annoying dilemma. Some of the tags say “line dry,” some say “lay flat to dry,” and others say “tumble dry low.” I used to air dry my running clothes, but eventually I ran out of places to drape my clothes around the house and found the process tedious. So I decided to bend the rules and opted for the easiest solution: tumble dry low. I recommend you read your labels and do what’s best for you.
Steps for Drying Running Clothes
1. Booby Trap
Pull your sports bras out of the washer to air dry. As my college roommate used to say, “booby trap” your doors by hanging them by their straps to line dry.
2. Buddy System
I repeat, “Do you have your buddy?!” As you transfer your clothes to the dryer, sort your socks into their pairs again. When you find each sock’s buddy, toss the pair into the dryer. This will ensure that you don’t leave any stragglers in the washer.
3. Tumble Dry Low
I choose a timed dry option of 40 minutes so that I can manually select the low temperature setting.
From my experience, following these steps has greatly improved the smell coming from my athletic clothes. And more importantly, my husband has stopped complaining about the stench! According to this article, our running clothes may not be able to fight the stank on their own after 50 washes, so mentally prepare yourself: you will eventually have to retire your favorite running shirt.
Share Your Runner Vibes…
What advice do you have for keeping your running clothes fresh?