How to Clean Your Gross Workout Gear

Working out goes hand in hand with sweat and B.O. Here's how you can keep your fitness gear fresh.

Working out goes hand in hand with sweat and B.O. It's hard to lose any lingering winter weight without perspiring. But while you expect to get a stinky whiff of yourself after an intense workout, have you ever pulled out a newly washed pair of yoga pants and still been able to smell your last sweat session?

This frustrating situation is the result of a build up of dead skin cells and oils that get trapped in the delicate weaves of your workout clothes. It's also the result of using too much detergent. Adding more detergent to extra smelly clothes seems to make sense, but it actually creates more build up by trapping the odors inside. Fabric softener gives you a similar result.

To prevent your workout gear from taking on a permanent stench, here are a few tips from cleaning expert Jolie Kerr. She recently spoke to the New York Times about the right way to clean everything from your sports bras to your protein shake containers. Curious about the best way to disinfect your yoga mat? She's got you covered on that too.


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The best way to wash your workout clothes:

  1. Turn your workout clothes inside out before throwing them in the laundry. Dead skins cells and oils get stuck to the inside of your workout clothes. Turning them inside out before throwing them in the wash helps get rid of the build up. (You also want to avoid leaving wet workout clothes in a damp heap. If possible let them dry out before throwing them in the laundry basket.)
  2. Use half the amount of laundry detergent you normally would use. Too much detergent makes it hard for build up to wash away. It can have the opposite effect and actually create more build up on your clothes, leaving them just as stinky as when you put them in the wash.
  3. Use a laundry booster or sports detergent. For an easy laundry booster try adding a quarter cup to a half a cup of white vinegar or baking soda to the wash. This helps get rid of more odor and build up. You can also try a product like Zero Odor Laundry or a sports detergent like Sport Suds.
  4. Skip the fabric softener. Softeners leave a coating on your workout clothes that can keep odors trapped inside and create more build up.
  5. Don't use heat. Hot water and high temperatures in the dryer can actually make odors worse. Wash your gear in cold water and use low heat or no heat settings on your dryer. Or skip the dryer all together and hang dry. It's actually the best way to dry your exercise clothes because it lets them breathe.

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The best way to wash your yoga/exercise mats:

  1. Fill your bathtub with lukewarm or cold water and fully submerge your yoga mat. Add a small amount of mild laundry detergent.
  2. Let it soak for 15 minutes.
  3. After soaking, scrub your mat with a rag or sponge.
  4. Drain the tub.
  5. Refill the tub with clean water and press down on your mat with a CPR pressing motion to get all the soap out.
  6. Drain the tub again and roll your mat up in a clean dry towel.
  7. Next, hang your yoga mat to dry. Your mat can take 12-48 hours to completely dry.


*In between washes you can keep your exercise mat clean by spraying it down with a DIY yoga mat spray like this one. An all purpose cleaning spray works well too.


how to clean gross workout gear water bottle protein shaker Protein Drink ShakerGym Geek

The best way to clean your protein shake and smoothie containers?

Rinse them out as soon as you get home or even better, right after you finishing using them. It's that easy! Throwing to-go bottles with protein powder or smoothie build up in the sink and leaving them for later makes it so much harder to clean. If you don't want to deal with thick, caked-on residue that needs a little muscle to scrub off, rinse right away.

You can also use scrubbing tools like a water bottle brush to get the hard to reach places. For an extra smelly bottle try Dr. Bronners Liquid soap. It works well at eliminating stinky odors.

What about your headphones?

It's hard to head to the gym without your headphones and a good pump-you-up playlist. To clean any built up wax off of your favorite earbuds soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and disinfect. You can also use non-toxic disinfecting wipes or try making your own.


Now that all of your gross workout gear is clean again, put it to the test with this real 10 minute workout.