How to make your workout apparel last

Whether you spend a pretty penny on leggings or you live for the cute/inexpensive workout wear at Old Navy, I’m guessing you probably want to make them last as long as possible.

woman wearing old navy sports bra and leggings

It doesn’t matter how much I spend on my workout apparel, I want it to get my money’s worth.

How you wash gym clothes will play a big part in how long they last.

Most of your gym clothes are made of materials like Lycra, spandex, or polyester, all of which needs to be washed differently than a material like cotton. These clothes also hold onto more than just sweat.

Your body sheds bacteria and dead skin cells as you move, so your workout clothes are exactly as gross as you think they are.

7 tips to keep your gym clothes from falling apart and smelling fresh

tag from inside clothes

Use cold water

Use cold water to prevent shrinkage and the breakdown of materials. You’ll also notice that nearly every piece of activewear you own, the instruction label says cold-water wash only.

Turn your clothes inside out before washing

Your workout clothes smell because you generally sweat more while wearing them. The scent comes from odor-causing bacteria from sweat and dead skin cells. These rub off of you and onto the inside of the clothing.

The inside of the clothes needs to be washed more than the outside. Turning them inside out allows the water and detergent to really penetrate the dirty parts a lot better. It also prevents zipper pulls and other abrasive elements from rubbing against and damaging other clothing.

No fabric softener

Use laundry detergent only. Fabric softener isn’t good for the sweat-wicking fabrics.

Air dry when possible

You really want to avoid high heat with your workout clothes, especially when drying them. Heat can actually make the smell worse and break down the fibers and materials as it washes.

I hang dry my sports bras. I also use a drying rack from Target like this for some of my leggings.

Use a gentle detergent

Dyes and perfumes can cause wear on the fabric over time. Luckily dye-free and perfume-free detergents are widely available these days. Store brands have them, and of course companies like Purex, Arm and Hammer and WIN Sports Detergent.

Presoak with white vinegar

The key to breaking the bond between the body soil and the fabric is white distilled vinegar. It cuts through body oil and helps release soil and bacteria to be flushed away in the wash. 

Re-wear pieces

For things like jackets and some long sleeve tops, I will often wear them 2-3 times before washing. Unless I get sweaty of course.

I’ve been using most of these tips for years. I credit that to buying good quality clothes, but taking care of them helps too.

How you wash gym clothes will determine how long they last regardless of the brand. Here are seven places to find budget-friendly workout clothes.

What tips do you have to make your clothes last longer?

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