A blog by runners. For runners.

Clean your stinky exercise clothes – naturally

I stopped buying brand name detergents about a year ago. At first, I made my own laundry detergent purely to save money. Then, I got hooked. Over time, I learned more about the chemical ingredients that go into most conventional laundry detergent mixes and had some serious concerns from a health and environmental standpoint. The thing is, all my positive thoughts couldn’t change that my favorite DIY detergent wasn’t cutting it when it came to getting the stink out of our running clothing.

Thankfully, there are a few laundry boosters that can help get the stink out of clothes without adding questionable ingredients to the mix. Oh, and they don’t cost terribly much either. I should also mention that we keep our exercise clothing completely separate from our everyday stuff – that way, the stink doesn’t migrate over and take residence.

If you want to try to remove odors naturally, give these tricks a try.

Frequent washing. First of all: Don’t let those clothes sit too long before washing. Utilize your machine’s smallest load and do frequent running clothes washes about every other day. If you have more than one athlete in the family, you could also wash nightly. The less time the odor has to set, the less chance it’ll stick around for terribly long.

Soap. I use a very basic laundry detergent recipe for my clothing. I make it in bulk – about four gallon batches. It combines the power of natural castile soap, borax, washing soda, and plain water. I find it works just great for my normal clothing as well as lighter-use activity clothing (yoga, walking, gardening, etc.). When I need something more, I add the following types of ingredients.

Vinegar. A known deodorizer, versatile white vinegar can certainly help get stink out of fabrics. Add a full cup to your washer and do a short cycle before doing another cycle with your favorite DIY detergent. If you have trouble spots – like underarms – you can also apply full strength vinegar directly to the fabric before washing.

Baking Soda. Or give baking soda a try. You’ll notice the OR versus AND because you don’t want to combine these two ingredients, or you might end up with an ineffective volcano science experiment. Before you wash your sweat-soaked duds, you can fill a wash basin or bucket with warm water and then add 1 to 2 cups a baking soda. Soak those nasty smelling shorts and tops overnight to 24-hours before washing in a normal cycle with your homemade detergent.

OxiClean. I know, I said I don’t buy anything for laundry – but I do have a tub of Free and Clear OxiClean for especially difficult loads. Thankfully, the ingredients in this mix are gentle. There are no dyes, perfumes, or chlorine to irritate skin or tech fabrics. Instead, it uses the power of oxygen to get into all the stinky crevices. Just add a scoop to your load.

Sunshine. If you can, hang your clothes in the sun to dry. The sun’s rays will zap odors and stains right out of clothing. I learned this trick when we did the whole cloth diapering thing with our daughter.  If you can’t dry outdoors, consider drying on an indoor line – high heat dryer settings aren’t good for tech fabrics and they can set leftover odors in clothing.

What are your favorite natural odor-fighting methods?

Written by Ashley Marcin.

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