I used to be stinky, but not anymore…How to Wash Moisture Wicking Clothing!

Happy Wednesday. Hope everyone is doing well. I ran another 10 miles around the neighborhood this morning. It was a slow and easy long run. The humidity is about the same as it was yesterday but the dew point must be higher or something because it felt really sticky and when it’s really sticky and muggy, I sweat like a pig.

Sweating like a pig

Yes, I admit it, I am a sweaty mess, but thankfully, I am not smelly or stinky.

To be honest, that wasn’t always the case. Several years ago I started buying moisture wicking running clothes. The concept of moisture wicking is that it collects the sweat from the inside of your clothing, (the part closest to your skin) and it moves it to the outer layer of the clothing where it evaporates more easily. It’s a great concept except that the very same fabric that works wonders to keep the sweat off of you also has tons of little areas within it that can harbor bacteria and odor.

stinky running clothes

The bacteria are what eventually cause the odor and if you don’t wash those clothes properly, they will quickly start to stink and they will stay stinky even after you wash them. There are newer brands of clothing on the market that offer a type of odor blocking technology but the type of clothing I’m talking about here is your basic moisture wicking fabrics such as dri-fit, ClimaLite, etc.

But let’s get back to the point of this post which is, I used to be a stinky girl. My clothes reeked. I ended up throwing away a lot of clothing because I just could not get the smell out. Smelly Running Clothes

Being a bit of a clean freak and having OCD meant that I spent hours looking for the solution to my stinky problem and thankfully after trying several methods over the course of a year, I found the solution and I’m going to share it with you. You will not believe how simple it really is to keep your clothing stink and smelly free.

First, when you finish your workout, immediately remove your clothes and either throw them in the sink or in the shower with you. This is the most important step in the entire process and the one thing you have to do. Use cold water and rinse all of your clothes thoroughly. You are rinsing them to remove the bacteria, (which is what causes the odor). I spend a good 5-10 minutes rinsing, wringing them out, then rinsing and wringing again.

After you’ve rinsed your clothes you can either hang them to dry or immediately throw them in the wash but please don’t throw them in the hamper or in a corner when they’re wet. They could mildew and then you have another problem to deal with.

how to wash running clothes

Whether you hang them to dry or decide to wash them immediately, you’ll wash them the same way. Add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 tablespoon of baking soda to the washer and wash your clothes. Do not use fabric softener, it gets trapped in the fibers of the clothing. When the cycle is finished, hang your clothes to dry. I’ve been doing this for several years now and my clothes never get that stinky smell.

If your clothes already have that stinky smell you can use the same method but add one step. Put the clothing in the sink and fill it with cold water. Add 1 cup of vinegar, 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Soak the clothes for an hour and then thoroughly rinse with cold water. Next, wash them in the washer with the vinegar and baking soda and then hang them to dry. This may or may not work depending on the level of stink your clothes have acquired.

In case you’re wondering, your clothes will NOT smell like vinegar. They will smell fresh and clean. However, if you don’t want to use the vinegar and baking soda method, you can use Penguin Sport Wash or Tide Sport with Febreze. I’ve used both and they both work well. (If you’re clothes are already stinky, use the vinegar and baking soda.)

Also, just a side note, if you use a front loader, that could be the problem too. MacGyver and I bought a high-efficiency, front loading washing machine years ago and within a year we noticed that our towels were starting to smell moldy. After speaking to the manufacturer and researching front loaders I realized that I needed to clean the washer thoroughly. Here is a great article on how to do that.

Do you sweat a lot when you work out?

How do you wash your moisture wicking clothing?

23 thoughts on “I used to be stinky, but not anymore…How to Wash Moisture Wicking Clothing!

  1. Leftover pickle juice also is very helpful in cleaning sweaty clothing- a Heloise tip!
    4 tsps in a wash load with warm water will work wonders!

  2. This sounds great. Do you use any laundry detergent in conjunction with the 1 cup of vinegar and 1 tsp of baking soda when washing the clothes?

    • No, no laundry detergent needed. The vinegar will neutralize any odors and the baking soda will clean the material without compromising the wicking material. Let me know how it works out for you.

  3. Wow– rinsing them immediately takes dedication! We agree that using the correct detergent (or vinegar and baking soda, in your case) is a great first step, but there are also some other steps you need to follow in order to properly care for your wicking fabrics and avoid that lingering odor– never using a dryer (always hang dry) and never wash with rougher fabrics like denim or towels. Thanks for the article!

    • It definitely works, just make sure to rinse with plain cold water first and add baking soda to the wash 🙂 Let me know how it works for you.

  4. This was very helpful! I have a shirt that I’m planning on throwing away because I wear probably too much deodorant to prevent ever smelling and then I was washing my workout clothes the same way as our other clothes..not a good combo. So now I wash my workout clothes separately without softener. It seems to be working fine but that one shirt just can’t be helped..it’s one of my first workout shirts so I think it’s time to part with it.
    And yes, I’m a sweater.. :-/ but I’m always pleasantly surprised when my husband tells me I don’t smell after a run or workout.

  5. I just moved into my apartment and there are clothes every wear…your ODC would go crazy..but I am working on making it neater! its weird sometime I sweat allot..sometimes I don’t..I just try to wash my sweat wicking clothes with the normal stuff.

    • LOL, I am a little nutty with the organization. Even the hubbys clothes are color coordinated and separated by season, (of course in Florida, we have hurricane and non hurricane season so that’s pretty easy.) I drive the whole family crazy but secretly, I think they love it. 🙂

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