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How to get the stink out of your running clothes

Use these laundry tips to keep your technical gear smelling fresh

Running clothes stink. After just a few runs, technical fabrics, like Lycra, Coolmax or Dri-fit, start to hold onto odours, even after they’ve gone through the “heavily soiled” cycle in your washing machine. If the scent of your running gear is starting to become overwhelming, fear not: these six tips will have your favourite racing kit smelling like daisies in no time (or at least they won’t be completely repulsive).

Air them out

When you come in from a run and your clothes are sweaty, don’t immediately throw them into the laundry hamper. Hang them up to air them out first, bonus points if you can hang them outside in the fresh air. Not only will this help reduce the stink, but it’ll help your running clothes last longer, too.

Don’t over-do detergent

A common mistake runners make is thinking that if they put extra detergent in, their clothes will get extra clean. While this sounds logical, it doesn’t actually work and could make things worse. Your laundry machine is likely set up to handle a certain amount of detergent, and if you put too much in, the machine won’t be able to wash it all out. This will leave residue on the fabric, which over time leads to a buildup of mold and mildew and eventually, bacteria.

To be on the safe side, start with three-quarters, or even half, of the amount of detergent you would normally use and adjust as you see fit. You can also try using a detergent that’s designed specifically for sports clothing.

Say no to fabric softener

Fabric softener is great for your sheets and towels, but terrible for your running gear. It can lock smells in and prevent detergent from getting into all of the nooks and crannies of the fabric. Fabric softener also breaks down stretchy materials, so it can ruin the shape and fit of your running gear.

Add vinegar

Pre-soaking your clothes in a 4:1 mixture of water to distilled vinegar for 30 minutes before washing can do wonders for removing stubborn smells. Vinegar helps release bacteria from the fabric so they can be washed away in the laundry.

Turn them inside-out

The smelliest and dirtiest parts of your running clothes are on the inside, so turn your gear inside out (especially your tights) to give detergent direct access to those parts.

Hang them to dry

Never — we repeat, never — put your running clothes in the dryer. This has less to do with smell and more to do with taking good care of your gear so that it lasts a long time. High heat can damage or shrink your clothes, which shortens their useable life. Hang them out to dry, if not outside, then on a rack somewhere in your home.

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