Here’s exactly how to get the smell out of your workout clothes

If you’re anything like me, those sweaty, stinky workout clothes are a real problem. I don’t even like to mix them with my regular dirty laundry because of the awful smell.  Here’s everything you need to know about getting those gym clothes fresher and cleaner.


Where does the smell come from?

It’s bacteria. Gross, yes, but totally avoidable. The first thing you must do is STOP leaving your wet clothes piled up until the next laundry day (which could be weeks at my house. Don’t judge).

Once those pesky bacteria move in, it’s going to take a lot more than just regular laundering to get them out. Cosmo suggests letting your clothes air out a little before putting them in the hamper.


How should I wash them?

First thing to remember when laundering those grody garments: Turn them inside out. According to the folks at Tide (and they know laundry), “70 percent of laundry soil is invisible — i.e., sweat, dead skin, and sebum.” Naturally, the clothes we wear to work out in would have the most of these icky substances in them.

Turn those cute leggings (or whatever else) inside out, and that will get a lot of the most offensive dirt and grime out, and cut down on the odors big time.


Use this, don’t use that.

If you sweat a lot, like me, you know how yucky and sticky our clothes can get, so it might be worth the money to get an odor reducer. Because so many of the gym clothes we buy are made from synthetic fibers, they retain odors longer. Cosmo suggests adding white vinegar, Borax, or Zero Odor to the load to help get the smell under control. These could help get them out in the regular wash.

If you’re going to use regular detergent, you probably should be using as much as you think you should. This seems counter-intuitive, yes, but it’s true. The more detergent, the more residual detergent on your clothes, and the more places for the bacteria and smell to linger.

You could use a sports detergent if it’s really getting serious. There are a ton of brands out there that are made specifically for gym clothes, and all those hard-to-eliminate stains and odors.

But don’t use fabric softener. It just leaves that weird waxy coating on your clothes that is a super welcoming environment for all those menacing smell-causing germs. So, just don’t use it at all.


No heat. Ever.

The heat locks the smell in and often will amplify it. Hanging your wet clothes is the best way to go. Besides, it also helps keep all those cute athleisure pieces looking good and lasting longer.


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