Keeping Lycra Lovely | How To Wash Gym Clothes

How To Wash Gym Clothes

We spend a lot of time in our activewear, and we also spend a lot of money on it, too, so it makes sense that we look after it the best we can. This may not be the most exciting of subjects but if you’re finding your gymwear isn’t lasting as long as you’d like, and you’ve been washing it with your normal clothes, then this is something you need to read and put into practice.

The way I care for my sportswear comes from a combination of experience, research and also what the trainers would tell us in my last sportswear job. Here are my top tips to keep it looking its best with no saggy bums or discoloured fabrics!

Wash at a lower temperature

Even though Lycra – or Spandex to American readers – is a very strong material, at high temperatures it breaks down. I always wash my fit kit on a delicate wash at 30 degrees. Because we’re washing at a lower temperature we really need to make sure we get rid of all the sweat and bacteria that builds up in our sportswear, because I sure as heck don’t glisten, I sweat hard when I train!

There are a couple of special detergents available which are antibacterical, antifungal, and gentle on fabric too. The most famous is called Halo but I’ve recently been using Tesco’s own sports wash which was £1 and works just fine. Bear in mind that you should use a slightly smaller amount of detergent in the wash than the bottle says, as the detergent can build up in our gym clothes and can become smelly itself. It can also block the sweat-wicking properties of the fabric.

how to wash gym clothes

Don’t use conditioner

Speaking of being gentle, although fabric conditioners may make clothes smell nice and feel soft, they are a big no-no for using on sportswear. Fabric conditioners actually break down Lycra meaning your favourite leggings may go baggy around the knees, bum and waist very quickly. I’ve had some of my leggings for a year or more and they still fit like I just bought them, so I know that this tip works!

Don’t tumble dry

Again, the heat will break down the Lycra, so tumble drying is a no-no. Simply hang on a maiden – the fast-drying material that wicks sweat in the gym will also dry fast after a wash too, so it’ll be dry by gym-time.

How To Wash Gym Clothes

Wash frequently

Lastly, put a sports wash on frequently, and in addition don’t leave sweaty kit screwed up in gym bags for days on end. The more you let a pile of sweaty tops and bras build up, the more bacteria will breed in the fabrics, and although we’re using a special detergent bear in mind we’re still washing at a lower temperature.

I like to do two washes a week, so my kit isn’t sat for too many days at a time, and these do tend to be full washes with mine and my boyfriend’s gym kit – though remember we’re washing at 30 degrees and you can press the half load button if you need to, avoiding unnecessary impact on the environment.


Putting it simply – to look after your gym clothes wash at a low temperature, don’t use conditioner or the tumble dryer, and wash frequently. Look after your activewear well and it’ll perform well for you run after run, session after session, WOD after WOD.

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2 Comments

  1. February 4, 2016 / 4:15 pm

    Thanks! Great info 👌🏾

    • Sarah Harradine
      February 4, 2016 / 5:50 pm

      No worries, hope it’s helpful!