Tired of synthetic workout fabrics holding on to funky smells? Here are a few ways to get the stink out of workout clothes for good!
Update: I have started using 1 full cup of plain white vinegar with my laundry (just poured right into the basin in addition to my Biokleen Sport detergent), and this has completely eliminated the smells from my workout clothes after several washings.
This also works great for musty smelling towels, along with a very thorough high-heat drying cycle. If towels smell particularly musty, I use 2 cups of vinegar.
Some of my clothes it has taken a couple weeks of washing with the vinegar to completely remove smells, but I now wash every load of laundry with the vinegar and it has kept all the laundry smelling odor-free. No fragrance and no vinegar smell!
I think this is something we can all relate to at some point or another: we go to put on our favorite workout shirt/pants/socks and they smell. Even though they’ve been washed many times, they still smell. I even created a name for it: perma-funk.
Yuck. I really can’t stand it when my workout clothes hold smells! It’s usually only certain types of fabric that hold smells. Natural fibers like wool and cotton won’t, but those don’t always make comfortable workout clothes. Synthetic fibers are the most likely to hold smells.
I’ve been using BioKleen Sport laundry wash for a while and it does seem to help. It has essential oils in it and it’s all natural. But my clothes still smelled funky. I’ve tried the Fabreeze sport wash as well, and it helped a little, but it had a lot of fragrance in it and we don’t use fragrance in our wash since my family has sensitive skin (plus most fragrance is loaded with chemicals).
One of my favorite Under Armour sweaters was getting stinky, but I could not get the smell out! It was a great sweater and perfectly fine otherwise, so I didn’t want to throw it away. Fortunately I found a way to save my sweater!
About a year ago I posted a recipe for yoga mat spray, and one of the people commenting on the post shared that they had used a similar mixture for getting smells out of theater clothing. Hmm, lightbulb. I wondered if it would work for my workout clothes…
So I embarked on a several-month long experiment with my stinky workout clothes. I took my yoga mat spray, turned my sweater inside out and sprayed the inside of my sweater generously with it. I left it out on my deck to dry in the fresh air and sun. It took a couple of times doing that, but it took the smells out completely!
I bought a bigger spray bottle and mixed half water and half cheap vodka in it and I spray it on my clothes when I’m done washing them. Since I rarely machine dry my workout clothes (I tumble them then hang them to air dry so they don’t shrink), they have to hang dry anyway, so spraying them down with the alcohol/water mix works perfectly.
Since the alcohol in the mixture dissipates after a bit, there will be no residual alcohol smell on the clothing, and no smell at all unless you add essential oils to the mix. I’ve been doing this for over a year now and haven’t had any problems with the alcohol damaging fabrics or anything. Some of my clothes I have to spray down every time I wash and air dry them, but it’s easy to do and makes a big difference!
I think air drying smelly workout clothes in the sun helps to destroy some of that stubborn bacteria in the fibers that cause smell, so if you can get it outside it helps. And it might take a few times to get the smells out completely, but it works!
Even though I spray my clothes with the alcohol/water mix, I still wash my workout clothes with the BioKleen sport since I do think the essential oils in it helps to de-funk my clothing. Those 2 things together have helped my workout clothes smell better!
Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist