This Common Laundry Setting Might Be Ruining Your Gym Clothes

A person places laundry in a washer from a basket.

It’s the end of the week, and you’ve officially used all of your gym clothes. Now, it’s time to wash them in preparation for a new week of movement. But you might be making one well-meaning mistake when you do.

You should be washing your gym clothes in cold water, not hot, and while that might seem odd, there’s a legitimate reason.

If you’re washing your athletic wear in hot water, you’re not alone. After all, it kind of makes sense to wash clothing that’s exposed to so much sweat and grim that way in order to kill any sort of bacteria and get rid of the odor. When you do, though, the hot water can break down the elasticity in stretchy materials.  Ultimately, this leads to shrinkage and shortens the lifespan of the items.

Instead, you should be using cold water, and don’t worry about it not being sufficient. There are certain steps you can take to ensure the most thorough cleaning without hot water. First, be sure you’re not using too much detergent or any fabric softener. Both can leave behind films and affect moisture-wicking capabilities.

Those concerned about scent can soak their clothes in half a cup of vinegar and cold water for an hour before washing. Then, launder as usual. When it does come time to toss them in the wash, turn them inside out. Obviously, the areas most in contact with sweaty skin will be the dirtiest and most prone to trap smells. Turning items inside out targets those areas directly.

If you’ve got a laundry basket filled with gym clothes that need washing, check your washing machine setting and be sure it’s set to cold this time.

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