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How to Wash Your Performance, Sport, and Active Wear in 2023

Young man sweating after a gym workout session

How to Wash Your Performance, Sport, and Active Wear in 2023

This article explains how to properly wash and care for your brand-name athletic clothing.

Make Those New Year’s Resolutions Easier to Keep With Clean Exercise Gear

Did you know that more than half of all New Year’s resolutions involve vowing to exercise more? And that nearly 80 percent of folks abandon their New Year’s resolutions before the end of January? But it doesn’t need to be that way. Fitness experts recommend starting slow, setting measurable realistic goals, and holding yourself accountable by working out with a partner. 

Treating yourself to some new workout clothes can also help you stay motivated. In fact, the team here at Heritage Park was overjoyed to find some new sports clothes from Lululemon, Athleta, and Nike in our stockings this holiday. And since the point is to get these clothes super sweaty, we think now is a great time to remind you how to wash your pricey athletic gear to make it last. So whether you’re a hardcore gym rat or just making a style statement at the coffee shop with your Vuori hoodie, read on for the tips and techniques we use to care for our own workout gear:

1. Read the Care Label

Yes, we know, it may not be the most captivating piece of prose, but the care label on your workout clothing is really important. Well-known brands like Adidas and Under Armour make a point of providing detailed guidelines on their workout clothing. Check out our helpful guide to deciphering laundry symbols here.

2. Get Out of that Sweaty Clothing ASAP

There are two reasons not to hang out in sweaty clothes after your workout. First, sweat and stains can soak into exercise clothes and become harder to remove. Second, staying in sweaty workout clothes is terrible for your skin; wet workout gear is the perfect breeding ground for yeast, fungus, and bacteria all of which can lead to skin irritation and other health issues.

 Young man sweating after a gym workout session

3. Air it All Out

Speaking of yeast, fungus, and bacteria, it’s really best not to put your wet activewear back in a gym bag if you can avoid it. Again, that moist dark environment is the perfect breeding ground for germs on dirty workout clothes.

4. Pretreat and Presoak Stains Immediately

If need be, pre-treat or presoak any sweat stains as soon as possible. We recommend using an enzyme stain remover, or a DIY solution of a 1:1 ratio of Heritage Park All Purpose Laundry Detergent and water in a spray bottle. If you’re on the go, this isn’t always practical, so consider getting an enzyme stain stick or a portable spray bottle to use as needed. 

5. Wash Exercise Gear in a Separate Load

Trust us on this one. Of course, we always recommend washing lights and darks separately, but exercise gear can be more forgiving in that respect (we frequently launder colorful tops with our black leggings because these fabrics don’t tend to bleed color the way cotton does). With that said, wash exercise clothing in its own, dedicated load. Heavier items like jeans can damage your workout clothing, while washing your exercise clothing with towels can leave you with lots of lint. 

6. Protect Items with a Mesh Laundry Bag

Just like lingerie, your exercise gear (especially your sports bra) should be turned inside out and placed inside a fine mesh laundry bag to protect it from snagging on tiny burrs of metal inside the machine tub or twisting around the agitator mechanism. It’s ok to put two or three items together in a big bag; just don’t overstuff. The goal is for the clothing to be able to move around inside the bag as the bag moves inside the washing machine.

Heritage Park Premium Fine Mesh Laundry Bags

7. Choose the Right Detergent

Regular detergent contains harsh chemicals that, over time, can degrade the quality of fabric. On the other hand, “gentle” detergents aren’t strong enough to get your exercise clothing clean. Heritage Park All-Purpose Laundry Detergent hits the sweet spot; it is made with a powerful blend of plant-based ingredients and enzymes to break down and remove stains, while being gentle enough to protect fine fabric. This pH-neutral, concentrated detergent is easy to use in both regular and HE machines. Additionally, the fragrance-free formula is hypoallergenic and pediatrician- and dermatologist-tested; it won’t irritate even the most sensitive skin. If you prefer a delicate scent, choose from Lavender Mist, Shore Breeze, or new Spring Magnolia varieties.

Heritage Park All-Purpose Luxury Laundry Detergent - Fragrance Free

8. Use A Gentle Cycle and Warm to Cool Water

This suggestion is going to be a bit of trial and error, based on what is most effective for your garments and your specific machine. Even if your clothing is sweaty and smelly, resist the temptation to use a powerful cycle and hot water, which are not ideal for performance fabrics. Check out our guide to laundry machine cycles and settings here.

9. Skip the Bleach, Fabric Softener, and Dryer Sheets

Not only are these unnecessary, they can do serious damage. Bleach will cause discoloration and yellowing, and fabric softeners and dryer sheets will leave a waxy build-up both on fabric and on the inside of your machine. If you need to tackle lingering odors in your workout clothing, use white vinegar to banish the sweat smell; this can be used either as a pre-soak or you can run a load with white vinegar instead of detergent and stop the machine mid-cycle to allow for a soak.

10. Hang Dry Is Best

When your gym clothes are finished washing, shake them out to release wrinkles and any trapped moisture and, ideally, hang them to dry. We realize this isn’t always practical or possible, but keeping your exercise clothing, which is usually some type of performance synthetic fabric, away from heat is the best way to preserve its look, feel, and stretch. If you do use the dryer, use a low setting for the shortest time possible.

Of course, if you have any questions about caring for your performance athletic clothing, feel free to contact us! In the meantime, we wish you a very Happy—and Healthy—New Year!

Heritage Park Laundry Essentials

At Heritage Park, caring for fine fabric is our passion. As lifelong collectors of luxury sheets, towels, and cloths, we found many commercially available "gentle detergents" either damaged our fabrics or didn't get the job done, leaving stains. We knew we could do better. So we developed a formula with the perfect balance of powerful -- yet safe -- ingredients designed to remove tough, set-in stains while remaining gentle on luxury linens. Please connect with us at (800) 977-1841 or visit our store or email us with any product feedback or cleaning questions.

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