I got to thinking about cleaning athletic clothes the other day when I saw the “Yoga Stank” commercial on TV. The woman in the commercial takes her clothes out of the washer and they still have Yoga Stank, but then she goes on to discover a detergent that fixes her nasty clothes and she has a happy life again (excuse me while I clear my throat and wipe a tear of joy). She’s all ready now for her next Baptiste-style Power Vinyasa practice.
Guys, I’m here to tell you that the solution to cleaning athletic clothes is so simple I don’t know why everyone doesn’t know it! And “solution” is a hint to the answer… keep reading.
I’ve been working out for years. I ran my first marathon in 2005 (Chicago – thanks for asking!) I discovered a lot during my marathon training. Like that men need to wear performance athletic shirts (NO COTTON) and use Body Glide to prevent your nipples from chafing and bleeding. It’s also good to prevent chafing in the crotch. I also learned all about cleaning athletic clothes because I was going through a lot of performance athletic clothing every week.
Performance athletic gear also called technical fabrics, can be tricky to clean if you don’t know how to do it. Your typical laundry routine is really counterproductive to cleaning athletic clothes. Standard laundry detergent is really rough on the fabric and the soap residue tends to clog the pores and reduces the ability of the fabric to wick away the sweat. It also holds more bacteria, contributing to the stank. Don’t throw them into the dryer, that’ll really beat up your gym clothes. And if you have soap residue on your clothes you’ll just bake that bacteria and it’s attendant odor right into the fabric. So how to get that stank out? Here’s my secret:
Cleaning Athletic Clothes
I add ammonia to the wash cycle. Stick with me, because I know you’re curling your nose worse than the Yoga Stank lady right now. Here’s my process for cleaning athletic clothes: Start the washer on the delicate cycle with cold water; while it’s filling (I have a top loader) I add about 1/3 of the usual amount of liquid detergent. Then I add 3/4 of a cup of ammonia and I agitate the water. Let the washer fill a little more, then add the clothes. Skip the fabric softener (I almost forgot to add that because I never use it). Only wash athletic fabrics; don’t add anything made of cotton, wool, whatever. Those more durable fabrics will beat up your athletic clothes. I wear athletic-style underwear (not cotton) so I do wash them with my gym clothes. I don’t separate the colors because I’m washing in cold water and athletic clothing is generally pretty colorfast. Once they’re done washing I hang the clothes to air dry on my clothes drying rack. They’ll dry in just a few hours because that’s what technical fabrics are designed to do: they wick moisture away from your body and evaporate it away.
As soon as you remove them from the washer, you’ll notice there is no stank. You’ll also notice there is no ammonia smell either. The ammonia completely rinses out from the clothing and leaves them smelling fresh. How the ammonia works it’s magic is a mystery to me, but I’m a believer!
One word of caution: when cleaning athletic clothes never ever mix ammonia and bleach. These two chemicals are mortal enemies and if you mix them you’ll get caught in the crossfire. Seriously: mixing ammonia and bleach creates a lethal gas. It will kill you. Don’t do it.
So now that you know about cleaning athletic clothes, go forth and get sweaty without fear! Tackle that badass CrossFit workout, take that distance run, or go to that heated power Yoga practice.