Ok here I am sharing a very deep, dark secret with you guys. This is a no judgment zone right?
The last few weeks I have been finding that my freshly laundered gym clothes have had a musty, sour smell to them. Not sweat or body odor. More like sitting under a pile of wet towels type smell.
So horrible! The clothes were freshly laundered, I cleaned the washing machine, I added lavender sachets to my dresser drawers… I could not figure out what the heck.
I don’t typically stay in gym clothes longer than absolutely necessary, we do laundry literally every day in this house, I tend to work out hard but I don’t tend to sweat profusely and I even have a laundry soap specifically for sports. I would rewash the clothes and pull them out of the dryer with the same musty stank.
I thought some of you might run into this problem on occasion as well with your sports clothing and I wanted to share a little tip to get them smelling fresh and clean once again.
With sports clothing the design of the fabric is to keep moisture out. What that can do is also keep salt, bacteria and sweat in the fabric. Plus if you use fragrances in laundry soap and fabric softener, those cleaners will eventually leave a residue on the fabric that holds the odors even more.
Vinegar and baking soda can work beautifully as an all natural way to remove odor and freshen gym clothing. You can use these on the wash cycle and if you want the benefit of a dryer sheet/fabric softener without actually using them, try cutting an old piece of fabric or an old towel into small squares. Pop the squares into a mason jar and fill with vinegar. Remove the soaked square and place in the dryer with your clothing. The vinegar will prevent static cling and won’t coat the clothing like standard dryer sheets or fabric softener.
So a few tips to consider in general when it comes to athletic clothing:
- It should be washed after every use. Even a light workout.
- Never leave clothes stuffed in a gym bag. They need to air out. Stuffed at the bottom of the hamper is a problem as well. Try draping them over the laundry hamper if possible. For my husband’s super sweaty soccer clothes, I actually put them outside (in nice weather obviously) to air out. The sun will help deodorize the garments until I get to the laundry.
- You can also put stinky clothes in a sealed freezer bag and pop them in the freezer. That will neutralize the odor but it seems less appealing to me personally 🙂
I have two options for you to get the musty, stinky smell out of your sports and athletic clothes. I tested both of these and both worked beautifully for me:
- Fill a bathroom or kitchen sink or tub with water. Add 1 or 2 cups of vinegar depending on the strength of the odor. You want at least 4 cups of water for every cup of vinegar. Submerge the clothing and soak for about 30 minutes. (NOTE: I learned the hard way to separate my colors as I once had navy shorts bleed onto a light top. So be sure to separate colors.)
- Empty the sink and wring out the clothes and pop them into the washing machine. Use very little laundry soap- roughly 25% of what you might normally use. I know it sounds crazy but athletic clothes can soak up and hold onto laundry soap causing that stank smell. The less you use the better. Do not use a laundry soap with bleach after soaking in vinegar. If that is all you have, run the washing machine as usual but skip the laundry soap altogether.
- Now you can use hot water for really bad odor. All of my workout clothes specifically say to wash on cold so I have not done this personally.
- Tumble dry on low as usual preferably without fabric softener. If static cling is a concern, you can try the vinegar soaked rag method I described at the top. I have done that countless times instead of dryer sheets.
(Note: I have a front load washer)
- Add clothing to the washing machine- careful not to overfill the machine so there is plenty of room for the clothes to swish around.
- Add 1/2 cup baking soda directly into the machine with the clothing.
- Fill the fabric softener tray with plain white vinegar.
- Wash as usual. (No laundry soap used here)
Please note you want to check your washing machine instruction manual first but neither baking soda nor vinegar should cause any problems.
If you decide to give this a shot please come back and let me know how it works for you!
I know someone is going to be concerned that the clothing will retain the smell of vinegar. Nope! I detected a light odor of vinegar when moving the clothes from the washer to the dryer but that went away by the time they dried completely.
I am so thrilled because I literally took every athletic item from my dresser and washed it all using these methods and they all smell fresh and clean and new again.
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