Stop the Stink! Use These 5 Simple Tricks to Remove Odor From Your Activewear

All yogis know the challenge of keeping activewear clean. After a long, sweaty class, you hop into the shower and step out feeling fresher than ever. Your clothes, however, may seem to hold onto stink, even after they’ve been washed. And we all know just how frustrating it can be when clothes still smell after washing.
So what’s the deal with stinky workout clothes? It’s because you aren’t cleaning them right!
When you ditch fabric softener, add a few drops of essential oils, or simply dry your sweaty clothes before tossing them into the hamper, you may find this problem disappears as fast as Savasana always feels.

Clothes Still Smell After Washing? Follow These 5 Simple Tips to Remove Odor

There’s probably nothing worse than when clothes still smell after washing them. So, ditch the stinky workout clothes with these five simple hacks to remove odor from your yoga clothes and activewear!

1. Wash Them Inside Out

Most odor-causing bacteria comes from the sweat and dead skin cells that rub off onto your activewear.
“At rest, our bodies produce one liter of sweat; 40 grams of sebum, or oil; 10 grams of skin cells (roughly two billion, which is akin to a handful of cornflakes); and 10 grams of salt,” Mary Johnson, the principal scientist of Tide Plus Downy, shared in an InStyle article.
And that’s when you’re not moving through a vigorous Vinyasa flow.
When you clean your clothes right-side out, you’re not directly reaching the parts of the fabric that are causing the most stink, which is why your clothes still smell after washing.
Turn them inside out to get rid of the skin cells, oil, and salt that have coated your clothing.
Bonus: your clothes are likely already inside out from taking them off – so all you have to do is leave them that way!

2. Use Less Detergent

If your clothes still smell after washing, then you need to use more detergent, right? Not necessarily.
In many cases, this can make the smell even worse. This article explains why:
“Make sure you are not overdoing it on the detergent. We tend to think that adding extra detergent to our cycle will enhance the wash job and take odors out.
However, this method works counterproductively, as detergent gets trapped into the material of the workout clothes and, when combined with sweat, can put off foul odors worse than what you started off with.”
Instead, use whatever amount is recommended by the manufacturer to avoid dumping too much. If you’re still worried that won’t be enough, consider how essential oils can be more effective than extra detergent.

3. Freshen Up With Essential Oils

Essential oils can be used to balance your mind, reduce cold and flu symptoms, and freshen up your stinky workout clothes.
Kac Young, author of The Healing Art of Essential Oils, has a few suggestions for using essential oils to keep your yoga clothes fresh:

  • Place a few drops of lavender or rosemary essential oil on a wet cloth, or add to a dryer sheet, to deodorize and freshen your laundry
  • Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil to your laundry to leave your clothes smelling cleaner
  • Add a drop of lemon essential oil to the final rinse cycle on laundry day to make your laundry smell like fresh lemons. Be careful using this on dark clothes because a drop could impact the color

The key is adding your essential oil at the right time: “Don’t add essential oils to your wash cycle because that will get washed away. Use the essential oil products in the final rinse cycle or dryer cycle for best results,” says Young.
Essential oils are wildly versatile! Here are 85 Ways to Use Essential Oils That Might Surprise You


4. Hang Them Up

You get home from yoga, you’re exhausted and need to shower. You walk into the bathroom, strip down, and toss your wet stinky workout clothes into the hamper in a ball. And then you wonder why your clothes still smell after washing.
But that is where the problem lies. Those sweaty post-yoga clothes need time to breathe and dry otherwise they will definitely still smell after you wash them.
Wadding those wet clothes up in the hamper perpetually keeps them damp and can spread their bacteria and scent to other clothes in the hamper.
That damp, moist environment is not only a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria; it’s also the reason your yoga clothes may smell musty and old.
By letting them dry first, you avoid both of these issues and keep your yoga clothes in better condition. Let them lay on the bed for an hour or two after class and add them to the top of the laundry pile when dry.

5. Ditch the Fabric Softener

Fabric softener may seem necessary for getting sweaty, stinky workout clothes to smell fresh, but that’s not the case.
The problem is that fabric softener is an outdated product, which means it’s not made for the synthetic fabrics that most yoga clothes are made with.
Fabrics have changed but fabric softeners haven’t kept up with the changing market. So, instead of permeating your clothes, fabric softener creates a literal coat on top of them.
The coating traps the smell in your clothing, which keeps your favorite spandex pants smelling musty, even after you wash them.

Clothes Still Smell After Washing No More!

Don’t accept stinky yoga clothes as the norm anymore.
Use these five simple tips to keep them clean and odor-free from now on – whether you ditch your fabric softener or give them a little extra time to dry after class.
When you tackle the stink, you and your fellow yogis will be definitely thankful.
What tricks do you use to fight the stink? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels is a full-time writer, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist. She’s also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honest Body Fitness, an online health magazine for women. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, MyFitnessPal, ACE and more. Follow her at @HonestBodyFitness on Twitter and Instagram for health articles, workouts tips and more.


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