I was recently preparing for a Bikram Yoga class and as I pulled my favorite yoga top over my head, I was disgusted by the olfactory offense emanating from my most beloved article of workout gear.
Yup, I had stinky clothes. It happens when we don't properly rinse and dry our gear after workouts, like when I wad up my wet yoga clothes and toss them in a plastic bag to bake in the car for a few hours. Bacteria love this type of environment and quickly begin setting up shop in the fibers of our clothes thus producing the "smell."
Since my regular detergent obviously wasn't cutting it, I set out to find a solution. Here are the results:
Billed as the "#1 Detergent for Removing Sweat & Odor" and the officially licensed product of the 2008 US Olympic Team, WIN had a lot to live up to. The "magic" lies in their super oxygenated formula designed to bind with dirt and bacteria molecules, turn them into a solid form and lift them out of fabrics. Available from their website for $21.99 for (4) 21ounce bottles.
The verdict: Not worth the cost. While it does have a pleasant fragrance, it only masked the odor instead of removing it.
Penguin Sport Wash
I purchased the super convenient travel packets of this sport wash at my favorite store, REI. It claims to remove trapped odors while restoring factory-applied waterproofing agents and protecting synthetic fabrics found in many high-performance workout clothes.
The verdict: YES! Removed the smell and was travel friendly. This is a MUST for athletic-minded travelers as it can be used for hand-washing (think hotel sink, which is where I tried mine).
I received a free detergent sample from this Canadian-based company, who created the patented Bio-Blast technology to remove stains and embedded odors in workout wear. Additionally, it claims to reduce the amount of pilling (those fuzzy lint balls) that tends to occur on lycra and "sweat wicking" fabrics. It's best to purchase directly from their website, where a variety of sizes and scents are available.
The verdict: YES! It removed the smell, but it isn't the cheapest detergent on the market at $8.99 for a 16oz. bottle.
Lastly, I'd heard that using white vinegar in the wash would eliminate the mildew smell and perspiration stains, so I tried the "home remedy" by adding 2 cups of white vinegar to the wash and letting it soak for about 30 minutes. After the first wash produced zero results I tried again, this time soaking for one hour, but my items still emerged a little stinky. While this method did not work for me, it might for you so give it a try as a low-cost option for laundry dilemmas.
Findings: Based on this highly unscientific study, I found the Penguin Sport Wash to be the most effective for the price. While the "No Sweat" was effective in eliminating odors, it's a bit pricey and doesn't offer the convenience of a travel packet.
Bottom Line: If you care for your gear from the beginning, there's a good chance you won't need the fancy detergents. If you have time, wash your clothes as soon as possible-even if only by hand. Hang them to dry in a well-ventilated area. At the very least, don't wad them up in your gym bag. Let them breathe!