6 Easy Steps For Removing the Smell From Gym Clothes

Log in a couple of sweaty workouts, and you’ve shirts, shorts, socks, and underwear that smell like a locker room.

That’s why figuring out how to get the smell out of exercise clothes is one of the biggest of all training mysteries.

In today’s post you’ll discover the exact steps you need to remove the sweat smell and nasty odors from shirts, shorts, and other workout clothes super easily.

But first things first, let’s discuss why workout gear smells so bad.

Why Workout Clothes Stink

The stinky odor can be blamed on the bacteria found on your skin that get trapped in the fabric fibers.

But isn’t regular washing supposed to take care of that?

That’s actually when things go awry.

High-performance clothing designed specifically for exercise are usually made with high-performance stretchy materials—typically of smooth synthetic tubes—think fishing line. This helps divert water and allows for sweat to evaporate off the skin, keeping your body dry and comfortable.

But here’s the downside.

High-performance fabrics may have extra crannies and nooks that cling to dirt and odors. And the typical washing process usually has a hard time getting penetrating those grooves.

That’s why synthetic materials—such as Supplex, Lycra, Coolmax, Dri-fit, Climacool, and Tactual—can turn into stink magnets.

Therefore, if it seems like you can never quite the funky smell out of your favorite workout tops, you ‘re probably right—your workout gear is working against you.

Here’s the good news.

Although it’s going to take an extra effort on your part, there are a few measures you can take to get the smell of stinky sweat of your workout kit.

Don’t Hesitate to Wash

Keeping your running kit in a pile or letting it sit in a hamper after a run encourage the bacteria to grow and for the smell to linger and get worse.

And The longer your precious workout kit stays dirty, the more difficult to remove the smells.

Make it a rule never to let your sportswear stew in its stench. Once you get home after a workout, remove your kit as soon as possible (or take it out of the bag) and dry it quickly.

Not doing laundry right away? Hang them up or lay them on a drying rack so they can breathe in the fresh air before laundry day.

Skip the Fabric Softener

Whether it’s in liquid, bead, or sheet form, fabric softener is your sportswear worse enemy.

The stuff makes workout clothes feel softer by coating the fibers with a thin layer of chemicals that not only traps smells but also destroy it in the process.

Pre-Soak Your Workout Gear

This is another simple, yet overlooked, step that can help tremendously with the stinky smells.

Before you toss your workout clothes into the wash, presoak them in four parts cold water and one part white distilled vinegar for 30 minutes.

White vinegar has a very low level of acid that cuts through the stubborn bacteria and releases it to be flushed away during the wash.

Wash Running Clothes Inside Out

Flipping your running kit—especially leggings—inside out while washing give direct detergent access to the smelliest and dirtiest parts of the fabrics. These are the areas in direct contact with your skin, and the breeding ground for bacteria.

What’s more?

By exposing the inside of your running kit to all that pilling and ripping while protecting the exterior.

Use the Right Amount of Laundry Detergent

Using too much of detergent with hoping the more the merrier may backfire on you.

The excess stuff will only build upon your workout gear, which will then trap dead skin and foster fungus. Ick!

Whether you’re using plain old Tide, or special sports detergent (like Nathan’s Sports wash), it’ important to add the right amount to your washing machine.

I’d recommend using no more than two teaspoons of high performing brands, like Persil, Wish, or Tide, per full load. This is often more than enough per a load of laundry.

For more, try adding half a cup of baking soda to your laundry during the rinse cycle to help remove the odors.

Avoid the Dryer

Regardless of how you choose to wash your running gear, don’t put them in the dryer. Most high perfect sportswear is made has elastic bands built in, which can shrivel and shrink if exposed to too much heat.

Instead, following a wash, hang your workout gear to dry outside and let the sun do its work of removing the smells.

Not only will this keep any stubborn bacteria from smelling worse, but it’ll also help prevent any damage to the fabric, increasing their lifespan.

You got no option than an automatic dryer? Then, at the very least, opt for the lowest heat or air-only cycle.

Also, remember to flip them inside out first, so they don’t fade.


I know. The above measures sound like a lot of work, and it’s okay if you don’t feel like doing it. As long as you’re doing the best you can to keep your workout clothes smelling—and looking—fresh, you’re good to go.

Now, please excuse me, I’m going to flip my running shorts, shirt, and socks inside out and stop beating myself up about my imperfect laundry habits.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.

Keep Running Strong.

David D.