Gym Clothes Still Smell Like Sweat? Here’s How to Fix It

It can be hard to keep gym clothes clean. Ridding your gym clothes of stink that accumulates from hitting the gym takes time, energy, and know how. If you find that after washing your gym clothes they still have some odor to them, you’re definitely washing your clothes completely wrong: You cannot treat your gym clothes the same way you treat your regular cotton-based clothes.

Here’s the lowdown as to why they continue to stink in the first place. According to Jezebel, the clothing fibers of your gym clothes aren’t fully penetrated by detergent laden water for two main reasons. The first is due to the type of material that your gym clothes are made of, which are spandex and lycra, and these fabrics tend to repel water. It’s great for when you’re working out because they keep you dry, but not so great when they’re repelling detergent-laden water in the washing machine and you can’t get the sweat smell out of your workout clothes. The second reason is that those fibers trap body oils, detergent, and fabric softeners from all your previous washing attempts, making it nearly impossible to wash out without the right cleaning formula and preparation.

It can be done, but you’re going to have to play by the rules. Let’s get to it: Here are a few tips and tricks try to get that locker room stank out of your workout clothes.

1. Soak them in white vinegar solution before washing

There are ways to prevent your gym clothes from getting too smelly

There are ways to prevent your gym clothes from getting too smelly. |

White vinegar is something of a miracle ingredient when it comes to ridding your clothes of sweaty, gross odors. Before washing your gym clothes (and do this is as quickly after the gym as you can), soak them in the sink with one part white vinegar and four parts cold water. Leave them to soak for about 15 to 30 minutes, and afterward, throw them in the washing machine. Feel free to add a little white vinegar to your wash as well if you still think you need it.

2.  Wash them immediately

Man washing clothes

Wash your gym clothes as soon as you can. |

Put in a little extra effort, and get on the situation stat. That means not leaving your workout clothes in the hamper for a week, which will only make the smell situation worse. If your clothes really stink, this may be the only way to remove the terrible odor.

Eduardo Herrara of Slate NYC dry cleaners, advises Men’s Fitness on how to precisely launder smelly gym clothes. Before doing it though don’t forget to turn your clothes inside out before you put them in the washer and avoid overloading. Herrara suggests the following formula and instructions without placing them in the washing machine:

  1. Dilute 1 ounce of laundry detergent in a half gallon of warm water in the sink. Make sure you also grab a brush that you don’t mind using on your clothing.
  2. Take a lemon and squeeze out as much as the entire lemon as you can into the solution. The citric acid is meant to help break up the oils from the skin, even from the smelliest of clothing items.
  3. Lastly, scrub the armpits, neckline, and even the bottom of your gym back or any other smelly area that had touched your gym clothes with this solution and a brush before throwing them into the washer with your other clothing.

3. Hang them to dry

Clothes in a gym bag

After hanging out in here, your clothes need to air out. |

If you don’t have time or the patience to do laundry after you work out, Lifehacker suggests simply hanging your clothes to dry afterward. Avoid putting them in the hamper or in a bag while they’re still wet, because they’ll stay warm and damp, which is the ideal environment for bacteria to grow.

4. Stay away from fabric softener

Woman telling a guy he stinks

Avoid washing your gym clothes with fabric softener. |

Consider fabric softener to be your gym clothes’ worst enemy, Good Housekeeping states. When you wash your gym clothes with fabric softener it creates a sort of barrier that locks smells in, doing the complete opposite of what it’s actually intended to do. Also, fabric softener breaks down the lycra and other stretchy material in your workout clothes, ruining the way they fit.

5. Put your clothes in the freezer

freezer filled with food

Make room for your clothes in the freezer. |

This is a very quick fix if you’re pressed for time and can’t do laundry: Put your workout clothes in a plastic bag in the freezer, Lifehacker suggests. The cold air will destroy the odors. Although this shouldn’t take the place of laundering your gym clothes, it’s a great hack until you can throw them in the laundry.