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Mistakes to avoid when washing activewear

Whether you’re training for an upcoming marathon or one of Stylist’s Strong Women Treks, it’s important to keep your workout kit in shape so it can go the distance. Here’s a list of five of the most common pitfalls to avoid when washing your activewear.

#1: Don’t…wash it straight away 

You might think that throwing all your sweaty, smelly activewear into the washing basket right after your workout is the best way to banish odours and bacteria. But it actually does the opposite, making them settle into your garment’s fibres so they’re harder to wash out, and transferring them onto your other clothes too. So let your workout kit air for a few hours before washing - if possible outdoors in fresh air - so that the sweat can evaporate.

#2: Don’t…forget to pre-treat stains

When deodorant, sweat and body oil mingle together, yellowing can occur on your fabrics. Prevent yellowing by pre-treating susceptible areas (such as straps, waistbands and underarms) and spot-treating set-in stains. Simply dilute a little of our Activewear Wash in cool water, work it into the stain using a clean, wet cloth, then dab away the residue with another cloth. For extra stubborn stains (or very pungent whiffs), try pre-soaking your activewear in distilled white vinegar: it acts as a natural brightener (and deodoriser).

#3: Don’t…wash it on high 

Though a hot wash might seem like the most effective way to blitz sweat and bacteria, 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. 

#4: Don’t…wash with regular detergent 

Performance fabrics aren’t like other fabrics, so shouldn’t be washed with the same detergent. Their sweat-wicking properties mean odour-releasing bacteria can get trapped, so it’s important to choose a specialist detergent, like Kair’s powerful, plant-based Activewear Wash, which will deep-clean the fibres by removing perspiration and odours lurking within. To avoid limiting fabric life or affecting colour retention, avoid fabric or colour degrading nasties (look out for enzymes, optical brighteners, bleaching agents, and SLS). 

#5: Don’t…wash with 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). 

#6: Don’t…wash after every wash 

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. 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. 

#7: Don’t…neglect a dirty machine 

If you’ve still got a stinky situation post-wash, the answer could be lurking in the drum. Regularly deep-clean your machine with a monthly hot service wash at 60º C or higher, with no clothes inside, and in place of your usual detergent add a cup of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice together with some baking soda to disinfect the tub. After all, you can’t expect to have clean sportswear without a clean machine - as we explain in Laundry Myths and Truths, a machine that cleans clothes doesn’t clean itself.

Cover image by Burst 

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