We’ve likely all hung out in our gym clothes after a good workout, but if you stink don’t blame the intensity of the workout. It might be your clothes.
Katrina Kohal views her workout clothes as more than just fashionable comfort.
“I say it’s never a good workout unless I sweat through my clothing.”
Since she works out seven days a week, the sweaty laundry piles up.
“Odors in my clothing is definitely something that’s a concern to me.”
It should be– sweat can stay in clothing feeding odor-causing bacteria. University of Arizona Microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba said this is especially true for the synthetic fabric used in most gym clothing.
“The issue is with polyester– certain types of bacteria like that type of clothing, and those tend to be the bacteria that produce odors.”
Another issue is that most athletic wear contains extra wicking which is designed to pull perspiration from your skin.
“Basically you have fibers that come together, and actually, suck up bodily fluids like sweat,” said Dr. Gerba.
Dr. Gerba said it’s important to wash your workout clothes separately and often.
“Bacteria over time tend to adapt to the washing and routine you have so it gets harder to get rid of. That’s why it’s really important to use hot water when you can, and to use a bleach or bleach substitute.”
According to financial advisory firm Morgan Stanley, sports apparel and footwear sales are nearing $16-billion a year globally. It is no wonder a growing number of washers are on the market designed to combat bacteria in gym clothes.
Like the Whirlpool Smart Top Load washer and dryer. They connect to an app, which features specialty cycles including athletic clothes. The LG Sidekick allows you to run two separate loads at once and is specifically designed for custom-care loads. Samsung just launched a new high-efficiency washer called the AddWash with Powerfoam technology, which optimizes detergent performance.
Even if you don’t have a specialty washer Dr. Gerba said you could give a specialty detergent a try.
“I think it’s worth buying special detergents for gym-wear if they’re available, particularly if you’re using a polyester type of clothing.”
Kohal said keeping her clothes bacteria free is just as important as putting her time in at the gym.
“Getting it clean, getting it ready for my next workout is what I’m trying to do.”
Experts said the least germy part of your clothing is under your armpits. That’s because most people use antimicrobial deodorant. Meanwhile, the dirtiest area tends to be from your belly button to your hips, since that’s where your hands touch most of the day.