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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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Hey Paul, You have to try a

Hey Paul,

You have to try a new detergent called FitWash Detergent that is launching this Winter. I got to try it through a consumer market study and it worked very well. Made my apparel soft, light and removed the nasty odor. Website is not up yet, but take a look at their facebook page.

Hope that helps

We've found that using a

We've found that using a scented softener works about as well as anything. However, softeners do seem to take a toll on workout clothes.

I wouldn't suggest using a

I wouldn't suggest using a softener on any workout clothing. I dont use softener on mine, or dryer sheets for those that I don't hang dry (which I hang dry most of mine anyway). They take a toll on them!!! They also take a toll on clothing such as smart wool and other winter gear you might use to go skiing or snowboarding or be out in the elements (I live in Alaska... we live by these types of products).

For those of you that sweat alot like me... you may also want to look into odor-free and odor-resistent brands. I have a couple of shirts from Athleta that have been WONDERFUL. They have been shirts that I've had no problems with and they are specifically treated and designed to be eco-friendly and not to keep in the odors. I know there are some other companies many workout clothing like this now. Atheleta, however, only makes womens clothing. I believe Lululemon makes some clothing like this as well.

I am definitely going to try

I am definitely going to try some of these tips!!

I also found this great product by Febreze that works awesome on my gym bag!!!
Febreze SPORT

Rockin' Green has a product

Rockin' Green has a product called Stinky Gear spray that I LOVE for my shoes and gym bag! It leaves everything smelling great because it neutralizes odors instead of just covering it up.


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