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How to Get Smell Out of Gym Clothes

smelly gym clothes

Activewear absorbs some of the strongest smells. Even after multiple washes, sweaty and sour scents remain. Find out why your gym clothes smell and how you can wash them to sanitize the stench away.

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Why do my clothes smell sour when I sweat?

Did you know that your sweat doesn’t actually have an odor? It’s when sweat mixes with our skin’s bacteria-containing microbiome that the sour smell is produced.¹ The smell then sticks to the fabric of gym clothes and becomes hard to remove.

dirty clothes in a pile

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How do I prevent smelly gym clothing?

Make sure you unpack your gym bag as soon as you get home. Leaving sweaty clothes in a tightly packed bag can make smells stronger. Think about getting a bigger laundry hamper to give your dirty gym clothes more room to breathe.

How often should I wash activewear?

It’s best to wash your gym clothes after every workout to prevent built-up odors and lingering bacteria that can cause skin irritation or infection. You can wash your activewear less regularly if you’re just doing light exercise but avoid re-wearing without washing more than 2–3 times.

How to wash workout clothes

The next step to having the freshest, cleanest athletic gear is learning how to get the smell out of your gym clothes.

Turn your clothes inside out

Turning your gym clothes inside out allows detergent and other cleaning products like Clorox Fabric® Sanitizer to really get to the source of the smells. This way, the side of the fabric that has touched your body and absorbed sweat and other odors is more easily cleaned.

Avoid fabric softener

Fabric softener tends to coat fabrics with a thick layer that can actually trap odors in, rather than removing them.

washing machine controls

Wash with cold water

Another important element to fresh clothes is knowing what temperature to wash gym clothes at. It’s easy to think that hot water will blast away sweaty smells, which is true for clothing made of natural fibers like cotton. But the synthetic fibers used in activewear can’t stand hot temperatures and using hot water shortens their lifespan.² Wash your gym clothes in cold water, use the cold dryer setting or air dry them outside.

Use Clorox Fabric® Sanitizer Pre-Treat Spray*, which is designed specifically to sanitize stubborn sweat smells away:

  1. 1

    Spray Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer on gym clothing to pre-treat odors.

    spraying smelly clothes with fabric sanitizer
  2. 2

    Wait About 3 minutes while the bleach-free sanitizer gets to work.

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  3. 3

    Wash laundry with your favorite detergent as usual.

    pouring detergent into measuring cup

Clorox has a solution for all of your laundry sanitizing needs. For sanitizing your everyday loads, try Clorox® Laundry Sanitizer. If you have a tough stain, you can use Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer Pre-Treat Spray. Or if you have no time to wash, try Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer Aerosol.