How to Get the Smell Out of Running Clothes

smelly running clothing

Looking for the best advice on how to get smell out of running clothes? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Log in a couple of sweaty runs, 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 running clothes is one of the biggest of all training mysteries.

If you’re a runner dealing with stinky workout gear, then, you’ve come to the right place.

In today’s post you’ll discover the exact steps you need to remove the sweat smell and nasty odors from running shirts, shorts, and other training clothes the easy way.

But first things first, let’s discuss why running clothes can stink so badly.

The Source of The Stink

Bad smells, be it coming from garbage cans or bad breath, is the by-product of bacteria, in one form or the other.

Generally speaking, a good wash is all that’s needed to remove the bacteria from your casual clothing.

But it’s not always the case when it comes to high performance fabrics.

So, why do running clothes tend to hold onto smells even after being washed?

Blame the Technology

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 running 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.

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.

Smell Out of Your Running Clothes

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 running gear 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.

Air Them out

Your first line of defense against the smelly odors is to expose your running clothes to natural air as soon as you are done running.

If you keep your clothes in an enclosed space, your clothes will become a breeding ground for bacteria.

In fact, the longer you keep your workout clothes in an enclosed area, the more intense your running clothes may smell.

But it’s not the whole story.

Doing this can also wear down the fabric of your clothes, contributing to a faster deterioration of your running garments.

And I’m assuming that you don’t want that.

Therefore, in case you are not planning on washing your running clothes right away following a workout, make sure to put them where they can air out instead of tossing them on the floor of your bathroom or in your laundry hamper.

For the best results, hang your clothes outside, on a drying rack if it’s available.

If it’s not the case, then the side of a laundry basket can do the trick.

Ease up on the Detergent

Most people believe that more detergent is good.

But in reality, it’s worse.


Well, most washing machines have a standard cycle that’s set to handle a set amount of the stuff. Thus, any excess of it does not get washed out. Instead, it ends up lingering on your clothes, causing all sorts of trouble.

This builds up on your clothing, trapping mold and mildew— creating an ideal breeding environment for bacteria.

As a result, to err on the side of caution, opt for half or three-quarters of the amount of detergent you typically use. Then do a sniff test to assess how things are going.

Or at least, wash your running clothes with a detergent that’s specially designed to handle fitness and sports clothing.

Some of the best brands include Tide plus Febreze Freshness Sport, and Win High-Performance Sports Detergent (Get it here on Amazon).

You can also add in an anti-odor in wash eliminator. One effective product to try out is Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator. ( Get it here on Amazon).

Skip the Fabric Softener

What you need to watch for, when it comes running clothes, is fabric softener.

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that fabric softener is your running gear’s worst enemy.

Instead of cleaning the clothes, fabric softeners can, in fact, create a sort of fence that traps rotten smells in. This also keeps detergent and water from penetrating those grooves for a thorough wash.

Not only does it make your running clothes stink, but it also ruins the way they fit. Fabric softeners tend to break down any materials that stretch—the building blocks of technical workout attire.

Henceforth, whether in the form of sheets or liquid, you don’t want to this stuff near your running clothes. Or, at least, go for detergents that are free of dyes or fragrances.

For the odor, try adding half a cup of white vinegar to your wash cycle (for more on how to do that, check tip No. 5).

Pre-Soak Your Running 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 your Clothes ASAP

This might sound redundant, but if your running clothes are drenched in sweat following a workout, then you gotta wash them immediately.

Do not let your workout clothes steep. That’s the Cardinal Rule.

Action Steps

Here are the three guidelines you need for a perfect wash:

(1) Use your hands

In case you don’t have a washing machine nearby, then hand wash them.

In fact, in my experience, this might be the best thing you can do to fight off the smells, be rid of those pesky stains, and prolong the lifespan of your garments.

(2) Flip Them

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.

(3) Wash them Separately

If you want to save your other casual clothing from the smell, then PLEASE wash your regular clothing separately.

In fact, even if you followed the plan I’m sharing with you to the letter, some stubborn smells are there to stay.

So please don’t pass it on to your work or casual clothing.

Also, do not combine two (or more) people’s smelly workout clothes.  Otherwise, neither set would end up smelling fresh.

smelly running clothing

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.

Additional resource – How to clean running shoes

Add Vinegar

A powerful solution I found to be super helpful when it comes keeping my running clothes smelling fresh is to soak them in white vinegar just before washing them.

Actually, this might be the miraculous cure you need for getting rid of the smells altogether.

Here is how to do the vinegar pre-wash tactic:

First, soak your workout clothes in a clean kitchen sink with one part white vinegar and four parts cold water, then let the stuff chill for at least a half an hour. This is going to disinfect and loosen the stains before the wash.

Next, proceed with the washing—whether manually or using a washing machine.

For more, you can also add one cup of white vinegar to your wash during the rinse cycle.

If you are trying to get rid of a huge stink, then feel free to up that to two cups.

6. Hang Them to Dry

Most running clothes is what you may call tech gear. They are made from special fabric that insulates heat, wicks moisture away, you know the drill…

Thus, you should never toss them in the dryer.

In fact, high heat will cause shrinkage or damage to your gear, shortening its lifespan in the process. And you don’t want that.

So, what is the best course of action?

The best way to dry technical fabric is to hang dry them. So please, if you have a drying rack in your bath, then let them dry there.

Or if it’s possible, put your running clothes where they can dry in direct sunlight.

In fact, the sun’s rays naturally deter the growth of bacteria and will zap stains and odors right out of the clothing, keeping them cleaner and smelling fresher for longer.

In case it’s not possible for you to air dry your workout clothes, then put them in the dryer, opting for the lowest heat setting on your dryer possible. This will save the elastic and won’t cause much shrinkage or damage to your clothes.

Still, I’m really against this. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Additional Resource – Here’s how to dry running shoes.

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Conquer Winter Workouts: Essential Guide to Cold-Weather Running Gear

Hey there, winter warriors!

It’s that time of year again when the frosty winds and shorter days might tempt you to hibernate indoors. But wait! Before you trade your running shoes for cozy slippers, let’s talk about something magical: winter running.

Sure, the cold months can be a bit… well, chilly, but that’s no reason to hang up your running shoes. In fact, it’s the perfect opportunity to experience the thrill of running in a winter wonderland.

Picture this: You, bundled up like a pro, taking brisk strides as the snowflakes dance around you. The crisp air filling your lungs, and the world, still and serene, is your playground. Trust me, it’s an adventure waiting to happen!

Now, I get it; winter running can seem daunting. But fear not, because I’m about to spill the beans on how to conquer the cold and turn your winter runs into exhilarating escapades. From the right gear to pro tips, we’ve got it all covered.

So, are you ready to defy the winter blues and embrace the chill? Well then, let’s lace up those shoes and dive into the wonderful world of winter running!

The Golden Rule Of Proper Winter Running Clothes

When it comes to dressing for winter runs, there’s one golden rule that can be your saving grace: the 20-degree rule.

Here’s why it’s your best ally for staying comfortable and avoiding over-layering:

The Science Behind It

Your body’s perception of temperature changes as you start running, and your heart rate increases. What initially feels chilly can quickly turn into a comfortable temperature.

Preventing Over-Layering

Over-layering can lead to excessive sweating and discomfort. It’s a common mistake to overdress for the cold, only to regret it once you’re warmed up.

How It Works

If the outdoor temperature is 40 degrees Fahrenheit, following the 20-degree rule means dressing as if it were 60 degrees.

Expect to feel a bit cold during the first part of your run. As your body generates heat, you’ll quickly warm up and feel comfortable.

Layer Wisely

With the 20-degree rule in mind, opt for a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating layer, and a windproof and waterproof outer shell as needed.

The Exact Winter Running Gear You Need

Dressing for winter running is all about covering your body from head to toe, leaving nothing exposed.

Doing this will not only make running in the cold more enjoyable and protect you from the cold and wind, but it will also prevent chapping, frostbites, and a host of other troubles.

Additional Resource – Here’s the full guide to a proper running kit.

Winter Running Clothes 1. Your Head and Neck

Keeping your head and ears warm during cold-weather runs is crucial for comfort and regulating your body temperature.

Here’s why it matters and how to do it right:

  • Significant Heat Loss: Your head is a prime area for heat loss, accounting for up to 10% or more of your body heat. Keeping it covered is essential.
  • Material Matters: Opt for a lightweight thermal hat made of technical materials. These fabrics lock in just the right amount of heat while keeping your head warm and dry.
  • Balaclava Bonus: Balaclavas are fantastic for extreme cold. They cover the head and part of the face, providing ultimate protection. You can even pull them over your mouth to warm the air you breathe.
  • Ear Protection: If you prefer not to wear a full hat, go for a thermal headband or ear warmer. These keep your ears toasty while preventing overheating.
  • Music Lovers’ Solution: Headbands also help music lovers by preventing pain in the inner ear caused by airflow between earbuds.
  • Vaseline or BodyGlide: For added protection, apply Vaseline or BodyGlide on exposed skin, especially on your lips, cheeks, nose, and ears. This guards against frostbite, chapping, and windburn.
  • Balance is Key: While staying warm is essential, be mindful of overheating. Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your attire as your body warms up during your run.
  • Windy and Frigid Days: On extremely windy and frigid days, extra coverage for your neck and face is a lifesaver.

Additional Resource- Here’s your guide to running sunglasses

Winter Running Clothes – 2. Upper Body Winter Workout Gear

Alright, winter warriors, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of dressing for those chilly runs. When it comes to winter runs, the name of the game is layers. But not just any layers—smart, moisture-wicking, warmth-trapping layers!

Why Layers, You Ask?

The right layers act as your cozy cocoon, locking in precious body heat. So, even when it’s icy outside, you’ll feel snug as a bug in a rug.

Stay Dry, Stay SafHere’s the kicker—these layers don’t just keep the cold out; they also let the sweat out. That’s right; they’re breathable! Say goodbye to that clammy feeling and hello to dry, comfortable runs.

Look for fabrics that are lightweight, comfy, and breathable. One word of advice: steer clear of cotton! Cotton traps moisture, leaving you feeling like a walking icicle. Not fun..

Here is how you should layer on your upper body for an enjoyable and safe winter running experience:

Base Layer

Alright, let’s dive deeper into the world of winter running layers, starting with the MVP—the base layer. When it comes to staying toasty during those frigid runs, this layer is your best buddy.

Why Is the Base Layer So Important?

It’s the layer in direct contact with your skin, so it sets the tone for how warm and happy you’ll be out there.

This layer’s role is to wick moisture away from your skin. Fabrics like polypropylene, Thermax, Dryfit, CoolMax, or Thinsulate are your go-tos here. Say goodbye to sweaty discomfort.

Why Not Cotton?

Cotton may be comfy for your PJs, but it’s a no-go for running in the cold. Cotton traps moisture, leaving you feeling like you took a dive into a chilly pool. Not fun, right?

Choose Your Sleeve Length Wisely

If it’s above 35°F, a long-sleeve base layer can work wonders. But hey, it’s your run, your rules. Experiment with different layers until you find your perfect combo.

When the Mercury Drops…

If it’s colder than 35°F, consider tossing a midlayer into the mix for extra protection against the chill.

Additional guide – Here’s how to breathe when running in the cold

Middle Layer

When the mercury dips below 25°F, this layer becomes your best friend. It’s the key to trapping precious warmth on those bone-chilling days.

Choosing the Right Fabric

Look for fabrics like Dryline, polyester fleece, Thermafleece, Polartec, Akwatec, or Thermax. These materials excel at keeping you cozy.

Stay Warm, Stay Stylish

Depending on your preference, you can go for heavier layers made from fleece or polyester. Or if you’re braving frigid temps, consider an insulated jacket..

Outer layer

The outer layer is your final line of defense against the cold, rain, snow, and wind. It’s like your trusty shield, protecting you from Mother Nature’s worst moods.

Base, Mid, and Outer Layer

For low temperatures and precipitation, you need a trio of layers: a moisture-wicking base layer, an insulating midlayer, and the grand finale, your outer layer.

The Zipper Advantage

Opt for a jacket with a zipper or half-zipper. This nifty feature lets you regulate your temperature by zipping up or down. If things get too toasty, tie your jacket around your waist. Easy peasy!

Extra Length and Handy Pockets

Cover Your Assets: Look for a longer jacket that covers your behind. It’s a lifesaver in cold, wet conditions. And don’t forget pockets! They’re perfect for stashing your hat and gloves when you start feeling the heat.

The Right Fabrics for the Win

Fabric Matters: When shopping for an outer layer, focus on fabrics like Supplex, ClimaFit, nylon, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, and Windstopper. These materials are like armor against the cold.

Vest Option

Go Sleeveless: If you’re not a fan of jackets, consider a vest. It’s a fantastic alternative that keeps your core cozy while letting your arms breathe.

Additional Resource – What’s the best temperature for running?

Winter Running Clothes 4. Hands

Chilly fingers cramping your running style? Say no more! I’ve got the scoop on keeping those digits toasty during your winter workouts.

The Mighty Mittens vs. Cool Gloves

Slip on a trusty pair of gloves when the mercury drops below 40 degrees F. Opt for gloves crafted from technical materials to keep your hands warm and dry. Polyester blends work wonders for winter runs.

Tech Savvy? Choose Wisely!

Are you glued to your smartphone even when you run? No worries! Look for gloves with “tech tip fingers.” They’ll let you work your touchscreen gadgets with ease while keeping your hands snug.

Additional Resource – Your guide to the best running hats.

Mittens for Frigid Days

When the cold bites and gloves just won’t cut it, it’s time to embrace the warmth and comfort of running mittens. These cozy hand-warmers are a true game-changer for frosty runs.

Hand Saver Extraordinaire

Mittens are your ultimate “hand savers.” They outperform gloves in the battle against the cold, providing top-notch protection and warmth.

Stay Toasty with a Handy Trick

While you’re out on your chilly run, keep those mittens toasty by gently clenching and unclenching your fists. Just remember, don’t overdo it—too much tension can zap your energy.

Additional Resource – Here’s your guide to hydration running vests

, winter running clothes – 5. Lower Body Gear

When it comes to your lower half during winter runs, remember this golden rule: dress for temperatures that are 20 degrees warmer than they actually are. Now, let’s dive into your options:

These are my top picks for staying cozy in cold weather. They provide that essential compression layer against your skin, wicking away sweat and keeping you dry and warm. Look for synthetic fabrics like Thinsulate, polypropylene, and Thermion for the best results.

Another option is layering. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, then add running tights or pants over them. This combination keeps you warm while effectively managing moisture.

If you’re into a unique style, you can wear shorts over your tights. It’s not just a fashion statement; it also adds an extra layer of insulation.

Winter running clothes – 6. Winter Running Socks

Your feet deserve some love, especially during winter runs. Here’s the deal: never, and I mean NEVER, wear cotton socks for running. Cotton doesn’t play nice with moisture; it soaks it up and stays wet, making your feet cold, miserable, and susceptible to frostbites and blisters.

Instead, treat your feet to wicking socks made from materials like wool, CoolMax, or acrylic. These socks keep your tootsies warm and dry, which is precisely what you want for winter runs.

In my experience, Smartwool and Breath Thermo socks are top choices for winter running. Personally, I’m a fan of Smartwool Ph.D. Toe Sock Mini – they not only regulate temperature but also keep those stinky bacteria at bay.

Additional Resource – How to choose a running jacket

7. Shoes For Winter Running

When you’re hitting the snowy, slippery, and wet trails of winter, your choice of footwear can make or break your run. Regular running shoes, with all their ventilation, just won’t cut it when you’re battling the elements.

So, what should you look for in winter running shoes? Protection, traction, and warmth are key. You’ll want shoes that shield your feet from rain, snow, and all that winter nastiness. Plus, a little extra traction goes a long way in preventing those icy slips and slides.

Consider investing in a pair of winter-specific running shoes designed to tackle these conditions. They often feature waterproof or water-resistant materials, warm insulation, and improved traction. These specialized shoes will keep your feet cozy and safe, so you can keep conquering those winter runs.

So what’s the solution here? You have three options to choose from:

Option 1: Trail shoes

When it comes to winter running, having the right footwear can make all the difference. Trail running shoes can be a fantastic choice, especially if you pair them with moisture-wicking socks and do your best to avoid puddles.

Here’s why trail shoes shine in winter conditions:

  • Waterproofing: Trail shoes are often designed to be waterproof or water-resistant. This means your feet stay dry even when you encounter slushy, wet, or snowy terrain.
  • Traction: These shoes are built for the rugged outdoors, so they typically offer excellent traction. That extra grip can be a lifesaver on slippery winter trails.
  • Durability: Winter can be tough on your shoes. Trail running shoes are built to withstand rugged terrain, making them a durable choice for the season.

However, keep in mind that trail shoes might not always be the perfect fit. In some situations, you may need even more traction and protection. So, assess your running environment and choose your footwear accordingly.

Here is your second option.

Option 2: Winter shoes

When the cold weather sets in, and you’re determined to keep running, don’t underestimate the importance of the right footwear. Winter running shoes, especially those with waterproof features like Gore-Tex, can be a game-changer.

Here’s why winter running shoes are a must-have for chilly, wet, or snowy conditions:

  • Waterproof Protection: With waterproof fabrics in the shoe’s upper, your feet stay dry even in freezing rain or slushy snow. No more soggy, uncomfortable runs.
  • Traction: Winter running often means dealing with slippery surfaces, whether it’s icy sidewalks or wet trails. These shoes provide the extra traction you need to stay on your feet.
  • Stability: Uneven terrains and unpredictable winter surfaces require stability. Dedicated winter running shoes, like the Saucony Men’s Xodus 5.0, offer the support and balance you need.

Option 3: Winter-Proof your Shoes

Winter running can be challenging, especially if you don’t have dedicated winter or trail running shoes. But fear not, there are a couple of hacks to make your regular running shoes more winter-friendly:

  • Duct Tape for Extra Protection: If you can’t afford a pair of Gore-Tex or winter shoes, duct tape can be your best friend. Cover the mesh on the upper and toes of your regular running shoes with duct tape. This provides extra protection against cold, wind, and moisture, keeping your feet warmer and drier.
  • YaxTrax for Improved Traction: YaxTrax is a handy accessory that you can easily strap onto your running shoes. These traction aids offer better grip on icy roads and slippery terrain. They are a game-changer for winter runners, especially if you encounter icy patches during your routes. Just remember to remove them when running on dry surfaces to avoid feeling clunky.

Note – Here’s how to breathe in the cold.

Winter Running Gear – The Conclusion

Your comfort level while running in the cold will depend mainly on your own personal preference, how fast you are running, how long your run is, and how much you tolerate the cold, so your ideal winter running outfit may differ from mine or someone else’s.

Therefore, nothing is written in stone here.

In the end, it’s your call to make.

Every person is different and responds differently to different temperatures and weather conditions.

I hope you find my tips on proper cold-weather running gear to be helpful. And in case you have any additional tip you swear by and you would like to share, feel free to add them in the comments section. I will be really grateful.