A blog by runners. For runners.

Stink? How to get the smell out of your running clothes


I don’t know about you all, but with each run or other intense workout, my exercise clothing is completely drenched with stinky sweat. I’m not embarrassed by it (after all, sweat equals an efficient body cooling system, right?), but when I arrive at the gym in “clean” clothing and people can smell me from a mile away? Well, that’s not so hot.

Thing is, my laundry experience is relatively limited to natural fibers like cotton. If you take time to look through the tags on your tech running clothing, however, you’ll see lots of nylon, polyester, Lycra, and — perhaps most of all — spandex. These fabrics are different animals entirely. And so, they require different methods of care.

Here are some tips:

  • DON’T let gross clothing steep. Wash it promptly (every day or every other) and if that’s not an option, try rinsing it out in the shower or sink before letting it sit for too long.
  • DO change your washer settings. I stay away from super hot water, which can shock and fade clothing. But the warm/cold setting does a good job. And I usually crank up the power from a regular wash to the heavy duty to power through tough stank.
  • DON’T dry you clothing. Not only will you save the environment, you’ll also keep the smart features of your man-made fibers more in tact. Otherwise, they may melt or lose their elasticity under hot heat. We hang ours outdoors or on a drying rack. If you must, though, use low heat or the air dry setting.
  • DO consider alternatives. A trip to the kitchen might be just what you need. Add scoops (1/2 cup to a full cup, depending on load size) of baking soda. I’ve also heard vinegar can help, though I’ve never tried it. The method? Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar, and spot treat items (the underarms of shirts, for example).
  • DON’T use fabric sheets. Or any other method of covering up smells like sweet smelling detergents. All of that stuff is added and, in turn, coats your clothing (and those beautiful tech fabrics) in gunk that negates their sweat-wicking power, etc. I just use an unscented, free and clear detergent only.
  • DO wash your regular clothing separately. Even when you do absolutely everything on this list, you may have some stubborn odors remaining. Don’t pass it on to your work or casual clothing. Keep the loads apart.

Have we missed any of your laundering tricks?

How do you keep your running clothing fresh and functioning?

Shoes are another story, which I’ll get into in another article. And if you have any questions you’d like to see answered, simply leave them in the comments below or check out our Facebook page!

Written by  Ashley Marcin.