10 Best Way To Keep Your Gym Clothes From Stinking

Have you found that no matter how carefully you wash your gym clothes, they still develop a stinky odor that lingers? If so, you need to find practical ways to eliminate these odors and prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Some ways to stop odorous gym clothes include soaking in vinegar and baking soda, washing inside out, and freezing garments. Further, you can help prevent odors by wearing deodorant during exercise and washing gym clothes ASAP and upon every use.

Continue reading along as we explore 10 practical ways to prevent and eliminate foul smells on gym clothes, which often arise from sweat and bacterial buildup. From using less detergent to washing with vinegar, washing inside-out, freezing overnight, and more, there are plenty of practical and cost-efficient ways to get your gym clothes in optimal condition again.

10 Ways to Keep Gym Clothes from Stinking

  1. Soak in a Vinegar-Baking Soda Solution Before Washing
  2. Add Vinegar to the Washing Machine
  3. Go Easy on the Laundry Detergent
  4. Let Clothes Dry Completely Before Washing
  5. Wash Clothes After Every Single Wear
  6. Wash Clothes ASAP After Wearing Them
  7. Turn Clothes Inside Out Before Washing
  8. Freeze Clothes Overnight
  9. Don’t Use Fabric Softener on Clothes
  10. Use Antibacterial Laundry Detergent

1. Soak in Vinegar-Baking Soda Solution

Vinegar is one of the most sworn-by household products that can work as a bacteria-killing agent. The acetic acid in vinegar breaks down the structure of certain bacteria, oil, and dirt – things that commonly create odors in gym clothes.

And when you pair vinegar with baking soda, you get a reaction that releases carbon dioxide gas. This bubbly concoction is very effective at lifting dirt and bacteria from clothing.

This is why a homemade solution of vinegar, baking soda, and water can be a good pre-wash soak for your gym clothes.

Simply fill up a bucket or drain-stopped sink with cold water, 1 cup of white vinegar, and 1 cup of baking soda. Then, place your already-dry, stinky gym clothes in the solution and let them thoroughly soak for a half-hour. Afterward, wash them in your machine with less detergent than you usually use.

2. Add Vinegar to the Washing Machine

If you are short on time and want to reap vinegar-related benefits, you can simply throw your gym clothes in the washing machine with vinegar.

Add the same laundry detergent you usually use, but lower the portion. Then, throw about 1 cup of white vinegar directly into the washing machine with the clothes.

Wash as you normally would and dry the clothes immediately after washing.

Although this method may not be as effective as the vinegar-baking soda soak, it can be helpful in a pinch.

3. Go Easy on Laundry Detergent

Believe it or not, using too much soap can be bad when lifting bacteria and odors out of fabrics. Ironically, what you think would contribute to better smells can leave a residue coating on clothes and trap smells.

Try putting your stinky gym clothes in your washing machine for a regular cycle, but use about half the detergent you would typically use. You might even add an extra rinse cycle to eliminate any possible detergent residue on your clothes.

4. Let Clothes Dry Before Washing

This is more of an odor-preventing method than a treatment, but it is effective all the same. If you throw your sweaty gym clothes directly into your hamper after use, chances are they will remain damp for an extended period.

During this time before a wash cycle, the damp environment can become a perfect place for the bacteria to proliferate. This results in stinkier clothes and odors that are more difficult to remove in the wash.

5. Wash Clothes After Every Use

It may seem like a no-brainer to always wash your gym clothes after using them, but life can get in the way and delay your next laundry load.

Some people even make the mistake of using their gym shorts or sports bras multiple times before washing, thinking that they don’t smell bad at first. But this increased accumulation of bacteria that comes from more sweat can lead to worse odors in the long run.

To avoid this problem, ensure that you keep a consistent ratio of one wear to one wash.

Related: What Should I Wear For My Marathon Race?

6. Wash Clothes ASAP After Use

In addition to washing gym clothes after every use, you should do so soon after every use. Instead of letting your clothes linger in the hamper overnight, try hanging them somewhere to air dry and throwing them in the washing machine on the same day.

The less time you give the bacteria to grow, the less likely you will incur stubborn, hard-to-eliminate odors.

7. Wash Clothes Inside-Out

One lesser-known trick is to turn your gym clothes inside out before throwing them in the washing machine.

Your gym clothes will hold more bacteria, sweat, and dirt on the inside, where they get trapped. So washing them inside-out will ensure more effective cleaning and removal of odor sources.

8. Freeze Clothes Overnight

One of the significant reasons that gym clothes develop stinky odors is that they collect bacteria in your sweat and skin cells. Therefore, effectively eliminating the odor is eliminating the source – bacterial growth.

You can kill bacteria via temperature by freezing your gym clothes for 24 hours in a sealed plastic bag.

Make sure they are completely dry before doing so. This is a good fix if the clothes have been thoroughly washed but still maintain a smelly odor from bacteria trapped in the fibers.

Related: 20 Reasons You Should Run A Marathon

9. Don’t Use Fabric Softener

People often make the mistake of using fabric softener or extra sweet-smelling products in their wash load to eliminate odors. However, too much of this coating on your gym clothes can create a barrier that traps the bacteria and sweat that is making your clothes stinky.

Although common sense might indicate the usefulness of fabric softener to make clothes smell better, in this case, it is a counterintuitive action.

You’d be better off adding white vinegar to the wash load in place of fabric softener.

10. Use Antibacterial Laundry Detergent

If you aren’t keen on using vinegar and baking soda in your washing machine, you could always take a milder approach by choosing a different detergent.

Certain laundry detergents are made with antibacterial ingredients that don’t leave as much residue on your clothes. Theoretically, this leads to fewer bacteria trapped in the clothing fiber and fewer clogged clothing pores.

As a result, your clothes should be generally cleaner after a wash load and less stinky. And as a bonus, detergents like these tend to attack clothing stains, as well.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best way to keep your gym clothes from stinking, remember that eliminating odor-causing bacteria and dirt is the best approach. You can do so by washing clothing inside-out, reducing the amount of detergent you use, soaking clothing in vinegar solutions, and more.

Be sure to try out our above-suggested odor-eliminating and preventative measures. Good luck getting the stink out!

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Coach Scott's Credentials:
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  • RRCA Certified Running Coach (Level 2)
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He has published over 20 books including, Beginner's Guide to Half Marathons: A Simple Step-By-Step Solution to Get You to the Finish Line in 12 Weeks! (Beginner To Finisher Book 3), which has become an Amazon International #1 bestseller. Scott specializes in helping new runners become injury-free race finishers. He recently completed his 22nd half marathon race. 

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