How to Wash Athleisure So It Looks New Longer

Experts suggest washing our gym clothes and athleisure after every wear to curb bacterial growth, but the laundry process isn't what you might expect.

Yes, you’re supposed to wash gym clothes after every wear. Generally speaking, the same goes for all that ultra-comfy athleisure and loungewear sets you’re practically living in, too. That’s because the synthetic materials that lend them the stretchy, body-conforming qualities we love are basically petri dishes after they’re exposed to sweat and bacteria found on our bodies and in the air. Gym clothes aren’t inexpensive, though, and the way we wash our leggings, tanks, favourite sports bras, and other fitness gear can make or break the longevity of our athleisure pieces.

(Related: Workout Gear, Clothing and Tech That’ll Keep You Moving When It’s Cold)

How to wash athleisure clothes properly

“Many of these fabrics offer wicking, antimicrobial, four-way stretch, breathability, and compression,” explains Victoria Vandagriff, president of the new women’s active collection from Splendid called Studio. “The biggest issue is that many people don’t know that you shouldn’t wash active apparel and athleisure with fabric softener because it removes the moisture-wicking properties.”

If you’re investing big bucks in premium gym clothes and athleisure, it makes sense to preserve the features you’re paying for. While fabric softener is one of the laundry products to steer clear of, athleisure clothes also require a very specific laundry cycle. You’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the safest laundry detergent for your favourite outfits, after all.

The right temperature for washing athleisure

To wash athleisure with care, you’ll want to use cool water. “Many people swear by the use of steam cycles or high-temperature wash cycles to combat the odor build-up on athleisure wear, but this can decrease the life of your clothes,” says Shannon Lenox, in-house scientist at Seventh Generation. “We encourage washing all of your clothing in cold water.”

Cold water preserves elastic and stretch-type synthetic fabrics, but Shannon also says it’s great for conserving energy. “By combining loads and washing all of your athleisure wear together, you can minimize your use of hot water cycles. What happens over time is the elastic qualities of athleisure fabrics decrease, which may be caused by over-washing or drying in conditions that are too aggressive high temperatures.”

(Related: How Bad Is It to Re-Wear Sweaty Workout Clothes?)

The best products for washing athleisure

Hex Performance Detergent Via Amazon

HEX Performance Laundry Detergent

This HEX Performance Laundry Detergent was created specifically for workout clothes and athleisure. If you’re prone to wearing lots of butt-lifting leggings made of high-tech synthetic blends, you’ll love using this detergent. It goes to work removing stink-causing bacteria and grime from delicate fibers so your ensemble smells fresher than ever.


All Laundry Detergent

All Free & Clear Pure Detergent

If you have sensitive skin and need one of the best smelling laundry detergents that’s naturally free of perfumes and dyes, All Free & Clear Pure is an excellent choice for washing your athleisure essentials. It’s a 99 percent natural detergent that uses enzymes to break down gunk and grime while being gentle on the skin. It was also a 2021 Product of the Year winner for green laundry products.


Mesh Laundry Bag Via Amazon

Honeycomb Mesh Laundry Bags

Be sure to throw more delicate athleisure staples like sports bras into mesh laundry bags before tossing them in the wash. This helps keep your favourite fabrics from being snagged on zippers and velcro.

$27/5 pack,

(Related: 6 Canadian Sports Bras for Bigger Busts)

Drying Rack Via Amazon

Honey-Can-Do Heavy Duty Gullwing Drying Rack

Machine drying your yoga pants is off-limits, so you’re going to want to invest in one of the best drying racks. This Honey-Can-Do Heavy Duty Gullwing Drying Rack folds easily for compact storage and has thousands of Amazon reviewers raving about how well it works. “If you have enough room to set this up in a hallway, bathroom, or some other area this can be a really handy tool for apartment living,” writes verified Amazon purchaser Rhianna. “In the short time I’ve had this second one it’s already paid for itself in not needing to pay for the dryer and my clothes aren’t being faded, wrinkled, or damaged by the excessive heat.”


Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner Tablets

Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner

You can follow all the rules on how to wash athleisure properly, but if your laundry machine is dirty it almost doesn’t matter what you put in it. These nifty and affordable Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner Tablets can be popped in between loads from time to time. Using them can remove mineral scale, grime, and even oily buildups that have bacterial growth.


Next: 5 Ways to Amp Up Your Workout Wardrobe with Canadian Activewear Brands

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest