Summer is a great time of year to work out—longer days and warmer weather means you can head outside for a run around the neighborhood or a workout in the park. The heat also means you’re probably finishing your workout a lot sweatier than you normally do, and that means your clothes are feeling the pain too.
Find out why you need to remove your workout clothes right away, and how to wash them properly. If you can follow these tips and suggestions, your clothes will last longer and your friends will thank you for keeping the smell at home.
Your Body and Skin Will be Healthier
Wearing sweaty clothing after your workout is bad for your skin, leading to a wide range of potential issues. Fitness experts at Shape explain that keeping your sweaty duds on when your workout is could lead it:
- Saddle sores
- Athlete’s foot
- Yeast and staph infections
- Chest ulcers
If you’ve had any sweat-related skin rash, you know removing your sweaty clothes is just one part of keeping your skin healthy as a regular gym go-er or runner. The team at Sweat.com suggests using the following guidelines to keep sweat from wreaking havoc:
- Wash your face before you start.
- Put on sunscreen when working out outside.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Skip the hot shower.
Why no hot shower? They explain, “While it might be soothing for tired muscles, the hot water is likely to strip natural oils and moisture from your skin. You probably don’t want to be heading out of the gym with dry, irritated skin. Instead, have a lukewarm shower to rinse away odor-causing bacteria and sweat. Once you’ve showered, moisturize your skin to help keep it hydrated.”
Your Clothes Need to Dry
Don’t throw your favorite spandex and running top right into the hamper. These sweaty clothes will grow bacteria and can even develop mold, when left in a dark, hot space for too long. Bacteria is what causes your clothes to smell, so the longer you let it grow, the worse your clothes will smell.
Instead, hang them up on the back of a chair or in your laundry room:
“After you take off your activewear apparel, be sure to hang it up so it can dry completely, rather than wadding it up and throwing it in the hamper. When they are added to the laundry basket it causes the bacteria and sweat to transfer to other clothes already in there. This will create a damp and moist environment, which serves as a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria,” according to this activewear care guide.
You’ll Carry the Smell All Day
If you finish your morning workout and head right to the coffee shop for 30 minutes of reading the paper, you may be more relaxed, but you’ll also be sweaty. And not just until you get home and shower. Wearing sweaty clothes after your workout can cause you to smell the whole rest of the day.
“Cotton absorbs water and deflects body oil, but high-tech performance gear made of synthetic materials are made specifically to deflect water. For that reason, those wicking fabrics absorb body oils— and unfortunately, the body odor that comes along with it, as reported by Insider.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to bail on your relaxing coffee time. Just change and shower first; then enjoy before heading off to work. Your co-workers will thank you.
How to Wash Your Workout Clothes
The washing process starts when you hang your workout clothes to let them dry. When you’re ready to do a load of laundry with your dry, but stinky, workout clothes, keep these activewear care tips in mind:
- Turn your clothes inside out. All the sweat, oil and bacteria is inside your clothes, not outside.
- Read the care instructions. Most activewear is made from specialized fabrics that require different washing methods than your normal clothes.
- Look for eco-friendly detergent, which is less harsh on these items.
- Hang dry if possible to reduce the wear and tear on your fitness clothes.
Ditch Your Workout Clothes—Quick!
Don’t let these unappealing side effects slow you from enjoying your workouts. Remove your sweaty clothes right away, especially in the summer when heat causes most of us to sweat even more. When you do, you’ll avoid skin rashes and carrying that workout smell with you to work—you’re welcome cube-mate. Don’t forget to clean your activewear properly too. When you do both, your skin, body and clothes will thank you.
About the Author
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a coach, consultant and writer. She's also an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition specialist, and the owner of her own personal training business, Honest Body Fitness in San Diego. She’s written for Shape, Reader’s Digest, AARP, Snap Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and more. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.