How to take care of activewear
Technical activewear and performance fabrics of the 2020s have come on a long way, wicking away moisture and hugging our every curve so we can move freely. But well-made workout clothes like luxe leggings and designer sports bras don’t come cheap. They’re investment pieces as much as evening wear, so it’s important to invest in their care in the same way. And with the pandemic sparking the rise of athleisure in the fashion/sportswear industry, we’re spending more and more on our gym clothes than ever before. That’s why we’ve put together our top tips on caring for activewear, so you can keep on spinning, spin after spin, and give your workout kit the post-workout R&R it deserves.
Let it breathe
Though it’s tempting to throw all your sweaty, smelly activewear into the washing basket right after your workout, it’s important to give it room to breathe for a few hours so that the sweat can evaporate. Otherwise, the odours and bacteria can linger for longer and transfer onto your other clothes too, and also become more difficult to wash out.
Keep it cool
High elastane content fabrics are vulnerable to heat damage: their fibres can shrink and lose elasticity when washed in high heat. So, always stick to cool temperatures (40°C and below) to keep your workout kit in great shape. If your kit has zips, use a mesh laundry bag to help prevent the fabric snagging, stretching or tearing in the drum.
Turn inside out
Turn your activewear inside out before loading up the drum to both maintain its vibrancy and protect the outer coating of pieces with a slight sheen. This is also a simple yet effective way to prevent brand logos and exterior detailing from either fading or peeling off.
The right detergent
Activewear is made from performance fabrics which wick away sweat, keeping you dry during your workout. But odour-releasing bacteria can get trapped, which calls for a specifically designed activewear formulation like Kair. This deep-cleans performance fabrics, removing perspiration and odours lurking in the fibres, while preserving fabric integrity, so you can wear them workout after workout. At the same time, avoid fabric or colour degrading nasties (look out for enzymes, optical brighteners, and bleaching agents). A powerful yet protective plant-based formulation like our Activewear Wash, by contrast, won’t limit fabric life or affect colour retention.
Avoid fabric conditioner
Fabric conditioner can impede the performance of moisture-wicking activewear fabrics, and also over time make it more difficult for high-stretch gymwear to retain its shape and form (high performance garments usually have a very high elastane content - sometimes as much as 20%). So, while it's dreamy for your bedding and most natural fibres, stay clear when taking your activewear for a spin (that includes microfibre towels as well - check out our ultimate guide to fabric conditioner for the full details).
Dry with care
To reduce the chances of shrinkage, avoid tumble dryers at all costs. Instead air dry items using a clothing rack. And to limit creases and wrinkles, hang bottoms from the top and tops from the bottom, and be sure to hang logoed activewear inside out.
Check before washing
Depending on the level of sweat your workout produces, it may not always need a wash. Some gentle hatha yoga, for example, won’t leave you as drenched as a vigorous HIIT session. The only exception to the level or sweat rule is sports bras, which need to be washed after every wear. The skin underneath our breasts is prone to yeast infections, so make sure you’re not spreading harmful bacteria around this sensitive area.
Refresh and go
If your gym bag’s starting to smell of your post-workout workout kit, or the clothes themselves need a quick refresh between activities, consider using a finishing spray to instantly revitalise your fabrics and lift, neutralise, and remove the source of odours. Handy for when you’re in a hurry on the go, and lead a busy, active lifestyle.
Now you’re pumped full of workout wear knowledge, so it’s time to get spinning! And if you want to read more about the best laundry detergent for gym clothes, check out this post.
Cover Image by Alex Bramall