This post is also available in: Ελληνικα (Greek)
Whether you wear them for training, to go to the gym or for your everyday activities because you love sportswear, they need proper attention and you should know care for sports garments. There are many reasons why it is important to know how to properly care for your sportswear:
- Sports clothes are often made from high tech fabric these days, which have their own cleaning requirements. If you want your clothes to last long and to maintain their size, high tech properties, and elasticity, you need to wash them and dry them by the rules.
- Colorful, printed, stamped clothes are the norm for athletic gear. If you want your clothes to keep their colors fresh and bright as new, you need to wash and dry them accordingly.
- Last but not least, how you wash your clothes is a matter of hygiene. When soaked in sweat, clothes develop bacteria. Wash properly to avoid bad odors.
So, how do you keep your leggings and your shorts, your tops and your rash guards, your gi, and your poncho towel clean, fresh and performing? Here are a few tips.
Wash your clothing immediately after sweating in them. Bacteria develop in sweaty athletic clothes. If you let a sweaty clothe in your hamper, most probably you will end up with a whole hamper of smelly clothes, that might require a higher temperature to get rid of it.
Washing immediately after use also guarantees better cleaning of sweat and bloodstains. Stains that dry are more difficult to fully remove.
Always look at the label
Every single piece of clothing has washing, drying and ironing requirements on its label. Many people prefer to cut them off because they may be bothering them during training or competitions. If you must do that, read them first. Try marking on the label what piece of clothing this has come off, and keep it somewhere for future use.
As a general rule, the higher the temperature, the higher the risk of shrinking and fainting for your athletic clothes. So, wash on low temperatures as a rule. Especially your gi should always be washed in cold water to avoid shrinkage and damaging the reinforced lapel.
– Never wash in high temperature a garment when its label specifies “washing in cold water only”. If you do, you can be certain there will be shrinkage, damaged elasticity or damaged colors even with one, single, wrong temperature washing.
– Never iron a garment when its labels is “non iron”. If you do, you can be certain that the first time the iron touches the fabric, you will get a burn or stain that you will not be able to remove.
– Never put in the tumble dryer a garment if its label forbids tumble drying, unless you wish to make some clothes for your kid’s dolls.
The one and only case you should tumble dry your gi would be if you need to shrink it for fitting reasons.
Separate what to wash together
Some people might advise you to wash every garment separately. This may totally preserve the colors of your sports garments, but it is not really environmentally conscious.
It is simple enough to separate properly the clothes before putting them in the washer:
– New clothes in dark or red colors? Wash them solo the first time you wash them. Black, dark blue, red hues are known to bleed the first times you wash them. So, wash them solo the first time to avoid a whole washer of grey or pink clothing.
– Separate colors: It goes without saying that whites and lights should be separated from color and darks. Red clothing, in particular, should not be washed with other colors, unless you are absolutely certain they are not bleeding. To see if a dark or red garment is bleeding, hand wash them: leave them for 10 minutes in a basin of tepid water, and check the color of the water.
– Don’t wash your synthetic garments with towels or fleece, to avoid lint transfer, which is extremely hard to remove from your favorite leggings or rashguard.
– Don’t include hard items in the washer when you wash your sports garments. Other clothing with metallic accessories, belts, wired underwear or jeans with zippers, can damage your soft synthetic sports garments when tumbled in the washer. Wash separately.
A simple solution is to always include a color catcher in your washer (even a used one). This magic little piece of paper will attract loose colors and prevent them from staining your garments.
Turn garments inside-out
Clothes with prints and stamps? Turn them inside-out to wash and dry them.
No chlorine, no fabric softener
Chlorine might be considered a miracle solution for stained whites, but in reality, it is damaging the fibers of your clothes and , if used, you have to be vigilant with how long you use it on a garment and rinse it thoroughly. Simply don’t use it. Modern detergents clean even tough stains.
Also, we would suggest that you stay away from fabric softeners. Especially with synthetic, high tech fabrics, softener damages their properties and elasticity. Most sports garments are soft and pleasant to the touch and don’t need a softener anyway. As for your gi coming out proverbially stiff after drying, well. After a few minutes of wearing it, it goes back to normal. Or you can tumble dry it on cold air for a few minutes to soften it up again.
Hand wash most sensitive garments and swimwear
If you have a favorite garment that you wash and wear again and again, try hand washing it to preserve it for longer. The fibers of any garment can break if you put it in the washer very often. If you don’t have time for this, use the sensitive washer cycle with low tumbling speed.
Your swimwear should also be hand washed. Just add a few drops of liquid in a basin of tepid water, swirl your swimming suit around for a few minutes, rinse and slightly squeeze. You can hang it in the tub for a moment before you air dry it on a clothesline.
Avoid the tumble drier
The tumble drier can be amazing for your poncho towel, but that’s it. You should ban it for any other piece of athletic garment, as the high temperatures damage your high tech fabrics and shrink your cottons. you should read the labels or ask where your purchace the products how to care for sports garments in question.
Dry your sports garments by turning them inside out and hanging them on a clothesline, not under direct sun. You could hang them indoors, provided there is good air circulation (in front of an open window, for example, or with a fan on etc).
What about your gi? If you hang dry it, it will probably take more than a day before you can wear it again. If you are in a hurry, you might use the tumble drier (not all brands can take this, so do this at your own risk). If you decide to tumble dry it, do it on cold air or warm (not hot) air and don’t finish the cycle. Take your gi out of the tumbler at half cycle and let it finish drying in the air.
How to clean a bloodstain
You fell, or your partner was hurt, and now you have bloodstains on your clothes. It has happened to everyone.
Washing the stain before it dries is crucial here. Dried stains are harder to remove completely. First, wash the stain in cold water to remove as much of it as possible. Remember, high temperatures only lock the stain in the fabric fibers, so cold water it should be. Select a low temperature on the washer and wash your garment as usual. If the stain is still there, run a second wash before you iron. Ironing a stain is locking it permanently on your garment.
If your cotton gi is bloodstained, before you normally wash it in the washer do the following:
– out some hydrogen peroxide on a q-tip or a piece of cloth and apply it on the stain
– let it soak for a few minutes
– rinse in cold water
– if the stain is not totally removed, you can repeat the same procedure for 2 -3 times
– then wash in the washer as usual.
There are blood removers you can buy. Check their instructions before using them.
the proper care for sports garments ensures a longer lifetime of the garments and most importantiny hygene for you and your fellow athletes.