There’s nothing like the feeling of finishing a good, sweaty workout. You chug your water, have a healthy meal with plenty of protein, and hit the shower. But, what do you do with your clothes?
You might not have a full wardrobe full of workout gear, so…is it okay to re-wear them? Yes and no.
In terms of grossness, yes, it’s kind of gross. The average person can sweat up to four liters per hour while working out. That sweat mixes with the bacteria on top of your skin and can get onto your clothes. Bacteria thrive in moist, warm environments—like gym clothes.
Self spoke to Dr. Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., professor and chair of community, environment, and policy at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health, and found that re-wearing workout gear is not the best habit but probably doesn’t pose any major health threats.
“The perfect public health answer would be to say, ‘Wash your clothes in between every use,’ but that’s really not practical, and it’s probably not necessary for most people,” Reynolds told Self.
While the idea of wearing clothes swimming with sweat bacteria might be gross, there’s likely no real health threat when it comes to re-wearing your gym clothes once or twice since it’s your own body’s bacteria.
However, there are plenty of reasons why you wouldn’t want to. For starters, the clothes could stink. That’s not fun for you, or anyone working out around you. More importantly, if you have a weakened immune system or you’re immunocompromised, you might put yourself at risk of getting sick.
So, while re-wearing your gym clothes is really up to you and likely won’t cause any real harm, you might want to toss them into the washing machine, instead.