Workout Wear Care

by Sara on July 16, 2014

image (2)Working in the apparel industry, I sometimes take for granted the things I know about garments and especially how to care for them.   Since I’ve started working on activewear there has been so much more I have learned that I never knew and it feels unfair not to share it with you.  A lot of research goes into developing this stuff.  You have to have a lot of people wear test things and find out how long they last, how they hold up etc.  I cringe when someone hands me back their samples and says, “eh I just threw them in with everything else, hot water, dried on high heat.  They look fine though right?”

Not only are most workout clothes made of synthetic fabrics {polyester & nylon}, which react to water and soap differently than natural fibers {cotton}, but they can often have special treatments applied to them that make them dry faster, repel water, or even smell less.  Let’s be honest we all spend a lot of money on this stuff so wouldn’t you want it to last as long as possible, with the least stink possible?

Cold Cold Cold {water} – I always assumed that “cold” meant the water was somewhere around what you would get out of the tap if you wanted a glass of water.  No friends that is what some machines like to refer to as “tap cold” and even then I’m sure it’s warmer than you think.  When washing machines are set to “cold” the water temp should be at or around 80 degrees.  I was shocked when I found this out for the first time.  Either way, washing your sweaty threads in cold water is gentler on them than hot.  So just keep it cold.

Don’t use the dryer – Here’s the thing I’ve learned, that I’m passing on to you.  Most labels might say you can put your workout clothes in the dryer, but you are better off letting them hang to dry.  Yes it’s a bit of a nuisance if you’re like me and use the tops of doors as your drying rack but I’m telling you it’s worth it.  Heat breaks down the elastic {aka spandex/lycra/elastane} that makes your butt look oh-so-good in those perfect yoga pants which makes pants stretched out and saggy.   No one wants saggy yoga pant butt so keep those tights out of the dryer!  Heat also tends to make the smell {if it was not washed out enough} more prominent.  I actually don’t know if that is a proven fact but have you ever smelled your hot running clothes as they emerge from the dryer?  It is definitely not a field of wildflowers or a fresh spring day that fills your nose that’s for sure.

Skip the softener – If you take the time to look at the tags on most of your performance wear {I will admit I did not used to do this} you’ll find it specifies not to use fabric softener.  Ever wonder why?  Fabric softener leaves behind a residue on the fabrics that interferes with all the technical properties that made you buy the clothes in the first place.  So if you love how your favorite tank wicks sweat away then don’t coat it in softeners.

Does sport detergent REALLY work?  A few years ago I would have tossed my running shorts in the wash with my jeans and sports bras in with my whites.  Now with the amount of clothing I have acquired, running clothes have their own laundry basket and require their own load.  So about a year ago I started looking into sport detergent.  Why should you even use it?  Just like softeners, traditional detergents also leave residue on your clothes that can trap smells, dirt, and bacteria as well as affect performance features of the fabric.  Gross?  The thing is I’m pretty sure you have to get specialized detergent like this stuff, I am currently using Tide Sport but the more I learn the more I wonder if it’s just covering up the smell with a bunch of perfumes instead of really getting my clothes cleaner.

Dry Cleaners are a huge no-no – I feel like this one should land on top of the pile of “things that are common sense” but just in case you were planning on dropping off a pile of sweaty clothes at the dry cleaners I’m going to advise you wash them at home.  Not just because it’s mean to make other people wash your smelly clothes, dry cleaning just just a barrage of chemicals and I think we’ve already covered that chemicals = residue = ruins performance fabrics.

Another interesting thing about activewear? You run faster when you match or have a really cute outfit on.  It’s a fact.

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