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Sniffing out the best detergent to get your workout clothes stink free

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:

WIN Detergent

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
6 oz. travel packet
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.

As an added bonus, it's made with 100% biodegradable ingredients. Purchase a box of 6 travel packets for $6.00, or a 20 oz. bottle for $9.95 for home use.
20 oz. bottle

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). 

No Sweat Activewear Detergent

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!

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Another great option is

Another great option is Active Detergent! I found them on Amazon about a year ago and am OBSESSED! The detergent is super concentrated and each bag has about 90 loads worth. You can buy it off their website or amazon. For sure check them out!

You guys should all switch to

You guys should all switch to Rockin' Green Soap! It's the best green cleaning products I've tried. Actually, it's the best laundry soap, period! They have an Athletic Wear detergent that is amazing. It's great at getting stains and smells out. Check it out at

The Rockin Green Soap sounds

The Rockin Green Soap sounds promising. But is it HE (High Efficiency) designated? $15.95 for 50 loads isn't too bad. But if shipping is high...then it could be a deal breaker.

It is HE designated. My mom

It is HE designated. My mom only has to use half the amount I use in my top loader, too. I think right now you can get a free sample. That would be perfect for you!

Thanks Melissa. It would be

Thanks Melissa. It would be very useful if we could find something to truly counteract the Bikram Yoga stink!

I am very excited about a

I am very excited about a product I came across on Facebook called FitWash Detergent. It’s coming out this fall. It’s naturally derived, fragrance free and residue free. They claim that they take a preventative approach to maintaining the life of your apparel and preventing odor. Check them out at

The scents on Rockin' Green

The scents on Rockin' Green are cool because they smell super great but wash all the way out and just leave your clothes clean and fresh. We have a lot of sensitive skin in my house and Rockin' Green doesn't exacerbate anyone.

I have used Fit Wash and it

I have used Fit Wash and it works great. It is a powder and rinses completely clean. My clothes smell better and it costs less than the other brands.

I have found that a squirt of

I have found that a squirt of Bac-Out Odor and Stain Remover in the wash gets the stink out of sports clothing. Extra stinky clothing might need a longer soak and extra long squirt, but it works!

This is great information. I

This is great information. I have been terribly embarrassed to find that my workout clothes have an offensive odor after laundering them. I have had some of these items for a while and wonder if the odor can be removed after so long. I have tried the long soak, the vinegar and Febreze. I will try a detergent and a rinse designed for smelly workout clothes but I am considering ditching the garments.


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