Walk through your neighborhood grocery store, and the laundry aisle likely contains a dizzying array of laundry detergents. There are detergents for dark clothes, light clothes, delicates, and even some made specifically for athletic gear. With so many options available, it begs the question of whether these specific detergents are really worth it? Would it really be beneficial to add another step to your laundry routine to wash your gym clothes separately with a special detergent? The answer depends mostly on your personal preference and what type of athletic gear you have, as well as additional factors such as skin sensitivities to scents and dyes contained in many sport detergents.
- Athletic gear needs extra-strength cleaning
Good athletic gear stands up to whatever we throw at it, so it's no surprise it can take some extra effort to clean. One of the reasons is that sweat changes the ph of your clothing and makes it more acidic. While sport detergents are formulated with this in mind, some regular detergents might also be tough enough to get your athletic gear clean the first time around. If you choose to use regular detergents for athletic gear, the best ones are those that don't include additives like whiteners and color enhancers. When you’re cleaning your athletic gear, turn your garments inside out before washing and consider adding one cup of white vinegar if you have extra stubborn odors. If possible, athletic gear should be hung to dry or dried on the lowest heat setting in the dryer. Avoid placing garments in the dryer that still have residue of odors as this can set the odors permanently.
- Don't allow stains and odors to set it in
Preventing stains and odors from setting in is even more important than what type of detergent you use. Once stains and odors set in, it can be impossible to get them out no matter what type of detergent you use. To prevent stains and odors from embedding in the fibers, allow the garments to dry before placing them in the hamper and wash them promptly -- preferably within a couple days. Avoid using fabric softener on your athletic gear, as they leave coating on the fabric that interferes with the stretchiness and moisture wicking properties of the material. Be aware that some detergents include softeners, so read the labels carefully.
- Follow the instructions on clothing and product labels.
The final authority on what kind of detergent to use and how to launder should come from the care label on your particular garment. No matter what kind of detergent you use, read and follow the directions on the product label. It can be tempting to add extra detergent to a load of extra-smelly workout clothes, but that can actually prevent the clothes from getting as clean as they would have normally. The best advice about athletic specific detergents is to give it a try and see if it works for you. On the other hand, it is worth noting that a regular, mild detergent might work just as well. Trial and error is the best way to determine if an athletic specific detergent is right for you.