How to wash your Lycra athletic gear

How to wash your Lycra athletic gear

How to wash Lycra

Photo Courtesy of Instagram

You spent a lot of money on that fancy running gear that “wicks” sweat or keeps you warm, even when it’s raining and 40 degrees.  The tags say “Handle with Care”  What exactly does that mean? Today’s exercise clothes like running shorts, shirts, pants and Compression Socks are often made of material called Lycra®.  For those of us who were around in the 1980s, you may remember some “rockers” wearing Spandex.  This is the generic Lycra® version. Lycra® is a brand name trademarked by DuPont.

After your workout

As much as we hate it, we’re all drenched in sweat after a good workout, which means our clothes are, too. If you don’t have time to wash your clothes right after your workout, or you’re too tired like me, then hang dry your workout clothes, making sure there are no wrinkle or overlaps. This prevents your gear from turning into a mildew breeding ground. It also helps prevent bad smells from staying trapped inside your clothes.

How to get the stink out

The best method for to care for soiled workout clothes is to give them a prewash. Soak your Lycra® outfits in one part vinegar, and four parts water for at least 30 minutes before hand washing, or putting them into the washing machine. Ensure that you rinse your clothes thoroughly before washing them to get rid of the vinegar.

Some Don’ts to Remember

Do not mix vinegar and bleach ever! If your detergent contains bleach rinse out your vinegar soaked clothes before throwing them in the washer. Do not use vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washer if your detergent contains bleach.

Do not use heat for any of your Lycra® garments. This is really important.  READ THE LABEL BEFORE PUTTING ANYTHING IN THE DRYER.  Heat will destroy the elastic properties of the Lycra® fibers in your outfits.  Just avoid the dryer, ironing and the sun. Remember: Heat is bad for Lycra.

Do not use chlorine or bleach. This will destroy the fibers of the fabric and you will get “bag and sag” syndrome.

Do not use Fabric Softener. These are used to soften clothes and will ensure your expensive garment will never again retain its shape.

Wash Lycra in your machine 

Although it is said that hand washing is always the way to go, most of us don’t have time for that. Don’t worry! It’s okay for your Lycra® garments to go into the washing machine, but ensure that you follow these steps.

  • First, make sure that all of your zippered garments are zipped all the way up.  This helps prevent the zipper track from snagging onto other fabric during the washing cycle.
  • Turn your clothes inside out.
  • Put delicate items into a mesh laundry bag, lingerie bag, or pillowcase to protect them.  I strongly recommend this for something like Bib Shorts.

Washing machine set-up

If you are worried that a pre-soak won’t get all the smells out, then simply put some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of your washer. This will ensure your washer dispenses the vinegar in the rinse cycle. Always use cold water when washing your Lycra® garments. Don’t forget, heat will destroy them. Also, always set your washer to “Delicates” setting.  This helps to prevent damage of your clothes.

Less is actually more?

Use less detergent than you would for regular washing, when you care for Lycra® clothing.  Although detergent cleans your clothes, it can leave a build up on your clothes if you use too much. A build up of detergent will trap in dead skin cells and trap bacteria into the fabric. If you want to make sure your clothes last, try a detergent designed for washing workout clothes.  You can find this type of detergent at most running stores.

Finishing The wash

After the washing cycle has been finished, hang your clothes up, or lay them down flat to dry. Never put them in the dryer and try hard not to put them in the blazing Sun.  Lycra® is a fast drying fiber, so your clothes should not take too long to air dry.

This article was contributed by SLS Compression and Triathlon Gear.  No samples were provided.

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