How to Wash Smelly Yoga Clothes (and Other Sweaty Gym Clothes)

Nothing is more unpleasant than the smell of your yoga clothes after a nice sweaty hot yoga workout.

The key is to immediately take your sweaty clothes off, change into dry, fresh clothes and wash your sweaty clothes soon after completing your workout. But some of us are guilty of staying in the sweaty yoga gear and/or not washing the clothes immediately after a workout.

Sweaty, smelly yoga clothes are a breeding ground for germs and diseases if not cleaned right away, not cleaned properly or not cleaned at all. It is important to note that you should always, always wash your yoga clothes after your workouts so that you can have clean clothes for the next time you hit the gym.

This article includes plenty of tips for how to wash smelly yoga clothes, but the tips only work if done consistently and properly.

From watching where you put your yoga clothes after the workout to using specialty detergents (and DIY remedies) like the vinegar and water method, to making sure your clothes are smell-free after the washing machine cycle and before the dryer, there are many different tips that can be used to solve the issue of smelly yoga clothes.

It is not fun to reach for your yoga clothes as you prepare for yoga practice to learn that your clothes are not yet washed or they still have the same strong stench they had when you use them previously.

This could be because you forgot to wash your yoga clothes or you did not properly wash them. Whatever the reason, don’t worry as the following tips will help you overcome that problem.

Be Mindful of Where You Put Sweaty Yoga Clothes

women finishing a workout in sweaty gym clothesIt is recommended that you allow sweaty, smelly yoga clothes to air dry before throwing them into the washing machine and never, under any circumstances should you leave your clothes after a workout in a closed gym bag, plastic bag, locker or hamper because the smell will linger and will be harder to get out once it is time to wash.

The key is to air out your sweaty gym clothes immediately after your workout. This may actually allow you to wear those same clothes one or two more times before washing. If you air out the clothes first, the smell is able to be released properly instead of sitting and lingering on your clothes.

We all have a tendency to throw our yoga clothes in a gym bag and close it, in the hamper, in a locker or on the floor right after our workouts because we often don’t even think about it.

But it is important because if you do not air out the clothes and then put them back on for another workout you could be creating a breeding ground for even more bacteria and no one wants to walk around in already sweaty, smelly yoga clothes.

If you do decide to air out your clothes before washing, turn them inside out so that they are ready to be put into the washing machine.

Turning your clothes inside out before washing will ensure that the sweaty smell and bacteria are removed because they start and could stay underneath your clothes if not taken care of properly.

You will want to eliminate as much of the sweaty smell out of your clothes as possible, before allowing the washing machine and detergent do its job. Although sweat will leave behind a very strong stench, you can air out most of it.

However, the bacteria will still be left on your clothes, which is essentially what will be washed out of your clothes.

Bacteria thrives on wet, sweaty places, so it is important to rid the clothes of sweatiness before throwing them into the washing machine so that the only thing left to eliminate is the bacteria itself.

Use Specialty Detergents

All detergents are made for one thing – to clean your clothes or anything that you put in the washing machine. This includes smelly, sweaty yoga clothes, but not all detergents are best for cleaning yoga clothes because of the material of the clothing.

Most yoga clothing is made from high-performance microfiber which repels water to prevent the yogi from carrying around sweat during their workout. But this water repellent quality does not always transfer over well to the washing machine because it can prevent the detergent and water from properly setting on your clothes to wash thoroughly.

Regular detergents will often not cut it and will not get mitigate the smell of sweaty yoga clothes.

Specialty detergents attack high-performance yoga clothing differently than your average detergent due to the repellant water quality of most yoga clothes. High-performance yoga clothes are repellants of water to prevent sweating during a workout but this is not a good quality when being washed in the washing machine.

Due to the repellant quality of water, the clothes will not allow the water and detergent in the washing machine to stick, which prevents the clothes from being washed thoroughly.

Specialty detergents are able to break through that repellant wall and get to the sweat and grime and make the clothes smell as if they were brand new after a hard workout.

Nathan Sport Wash is a specialty detergent that completely gets rid of the sweaty and bacteria-ridden odors in yoga clothes. Click here to check the current pricing and reviews of Nathan Sport Wash on Amazon.com

Win Green (check current pricing) is another specialty detergent that combats the smell of sweaty yoga clothes and comes in scented and fragrance-free varieties.

Some users of this detergent say that the scented variety works the best on rancid smelling clothing. It is important to note, that you should still use the recommended dosage of detergent for each load size because too much of anything is not good, no matter what it is.

If you use average or specialty detergent you should always, always wash your yoga clothes in the proper water temperature. Yoga clothes should always be washed in cold or warm water and never scalding hot water.

Another thing to note is to never use fabric softener on your yoga clothes in the washing machine because it will lock in the bacteria into your clothes and the smell will be there no matter how many times you wash your clothes.

Fabric softeners break down the elastic in your clothes which causes them to become baggy and no one wants smelly and baggy clothes. It is best to skip fabric softeners altogether when washing yoga clothes, to be on the safe side.

The Vinegar and Water Method for Sweaty Gym Clothes


A home remedy that most people do not think of when getting rid of the sweaty smells in yoga clothes is to soak the clothes in distilled white vinegar and water first before throwing in the washing machine.

The vinegar and water together break down the bacteria that is causing the smells and makes it easier for the detergent and water to get into the clothes to eliminate the odors.

You will want to mix one cup of white vinegar and one-fourth cup of cold water in a bucket, tub or deep sink and then toss in your sweaty, smelly yoga clothes.

Let your clothes soak for 15 – 30 minutes before putting them into the washing machine.

Although, if you are not washing your yoga clothes for another few days, it is best to soak the clothes for at least 30 minutes on the same day that you use the distilled white vinegar and cold water mixture then allow them to air dry.

Once the clothes are air dried, you can put your clothes in the hamper or laundry basket so they can be ready to wash in the washing machine.

The reason you want to allow your clothes to air dry (and not just throw wet clothes in the hamper or laundry basket) is so that you ensure all of the bacteria has been released from the clothes.

The bacteria should be released as much as possible, before washing your clothes. If you put the clothes in a hamper or laundry basket wet, the bacteria will linger and re-collect back onto your clothes.

If you forget to soak your clothes before throwing them into the washing machine, you can throw in one-half cup of white distilled vinegar towards the end of the cycle to ensure the sweaty smell is completely gone and this also helps to prevent detergent build up on your clothes.

Another trick that some people have also tried is to add baking soda at the end of the wash cycle instead of vinegar. Baking soda is a good alternative if you don’t have any vinegar on hand. Note that both vinegar and baking soda are very good for getting rid of smells in your clothes before they go through a wash cycle.

Smell Your Gym Clothes Before Putting Them in the Dryer

After taking your clothes out of the washing machine, smell the clothes to make sure they smell clean and not like sweat and grim anymore.

Dryers can lock in smells so it is important to put only recently washed, cleaned clothes in unless you do not mind re-washing your clothes and starting the laundry process again from the very beginning.

The dryer is good but will not be so good if your clothes still harbor sweat and bacteria or dead skin, because it will definitely lock it in those odors.

Now, it may seem weird to smell your clothes before putting them in the washing machine, but if you think about it you have to know what is going on and know when to throw them back in the washing machine or if it is safe to throw in the dryer to finish the laundry process.

Some people will completely skip the dryer and allow their wet yoga clothes to air dry because of the fear of the dryer locking in bad smells.

Deciding whether to machine dry your sweaty workout clothes is a personal preference and you should most certainly do what is best for you. Try both methods and see what works for you.

But it is important to note that there may be leftover detergent and suds on your wet yoga clothes if you are using average laundry detergent and not specialty detergent because of the water repellant quality of most yoga clothes.

Most yoga clothes are known as high-performance clothes because of the material of the clothing. Whether you use the dryer to dry your clothes or air dry, it is recommended that you always smell your clothes before proceeding to the next step and check to see if there is any leftover detergent and/or suds on the clothes.

Conclusion

Not knowing how to properly wash sweaty, smelly yoga clothes and other workout gear is a popular problem that many people have in common. The tips in this article are designed to help alleviate this problem.

Many yoga clothing items use high-performance fabrics (with sweat-wicking technology) and do not take well to the average laundry process, but require special care.

High-performance yoga clothes are usually water repellent, which is great for working out because it blocks sweat but may not take well to average laundry detergents. They may also require the use of specialty detergents as well as home remedies such as soaking your clothes in white distilled vinegar and cold water before washing.

It is important to remember that you should never store your wet yoga clothes in closed areas such as a closed gym bag, hamper, locker or even the floor on top of other dirty clothes.

Closed areas become a breeding ground for bacteria to grow, multiply and continue to spread. Wet clothes are best to be aired out, inside out before going through the washing and drying process.

Once you have a method down of how you prep your sweaty yoga clothes for the washing machine as well as a method for washing, you will never let your sweaty yoga clothes sit in a corner with lingering bacteria, untouched again.

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