Workout clothes and a white towel on a table

How to Get Smells Out of Workout Clothes

Working out feels great. It increases your brain's dopamine production, makes you feel less stressed out, helps you recharge your batteries, and makes you feel more confident.

Besides giving you stronger muscles, a few hours at the gym also results in laundry that’s a bit dirtier and smellier than usual. Here are a few tips for getting fresh and clean activewear to match your healthy lifestyle!

Why Does Your Workout Gear Smell So Bad?

In layman's terms, your gym clothes smell bad because of the build-up of sweat and body soils produced by your body. As your perspiration seeps into the fabric of your trendy, polyester-based activewear, the acids, hormones, and sulfur compounds found in those tiny, salty, liquid droplets start to break down into a stew of pure unpleasantness.

Most high-performance workout clothes are made up of synthetic fibers, which act as magnets for greasy body soils. Some also have moisture-wicking technology or “moisture tunnels” that can trap sweat and body odors deep within the fabrics, which lead to bad smells that immediately happen as you begin to sweat. And, cotton workout gear can act as a sponge for sweat and soils, trapping the odors as they dry only to release them when they get wet again.

How to Prevent Your Gym Clothes from Smelling Bad

Follow these general rules for fresh-smelling workout clothes:

Flip your garments. Turn your garments (especially your funky workout leggings) inside out before placing them in the washing machine.

Wash them as soon as possible. Damp clothes can become a breeding ground for stink when left on the floor or in your laundry basket.

Let them dry. If it's not possible to wash them immediately after your workout, then give them a breather, and let your sweaty clothes air dry before throwing them into your hamper.

Prevent smells in your bag. Your gym bag can also retain the odor of the workout gear you carry inside it. To prevent that from happening, spray with Tide Antibacterial Spray then place a couple of Downy Dryer Sheets in your bag for continuous freshness.

Do not stuff your washing machine. Do not overload your washing machine to help ensure the proper circulation of water and cleaning agents through the wash and a more optimal clean.

Use a high-quality detergent. Use the warmest wash temperature allowed by the care label and a high-quality detergent like Tide PODS® Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense laundry detergent pacs. A low-quality detergent will leave body soils behind, which will break down to produce musty smells. Greasy body soils may also need the boost of warmer water temperatures for removal.

Tide’s Tip

Air your clothes

If you don’t have the option of doing your washing right after you take off your workout clothes, it’s best to let them air dry completely before placing in the laundry hamper.

In case of trouble

If your gym clothes still smell after washing, repeat the above steps, or give Tide One Wash Miracle a try, an advanced deep-cleaning laundry solution designed for impossible to remove odors.

You also could try your luck with the baking soda or vinegar pre-soak method before running your clothes through another wash cycle following the instructions above.

If you wish to become a true laundry expert, then check out our comprehensive stain removal guides on all kinds of stains, including ink, oil, and paint.