How to Deal With Sweaty Workout Gear (And Get Rid of the Smell)

Odor during workouts is one thing you should expect, since they’re caused by the buildup of sweat and bacteria. But it’s how you clean and store your workout clothes and equipment that makes the difference.

Workout gear can also be especially difficult to clean when the same qualities that keep you dry are also the same qualities that make it hard for the suds to penetrate the fabric and pull out the sweat and bacteria.

But there’s no need to fret – here’s what you need to know to get rid of the smell:

Shirts, Shorts, and So On

As soon as you finish your workout session, don’t stick around in your sweaty clothes – shower and change right away!

You should also avoid simply throwing your sweaty clothes in the laundry basket if you don’t have the energy to get them cleaned at a nearby laundromat, since sweaty clothes are the number one hotbed for bacteria.

The best way to deal with sweaty clothes is by washing with warm water and a gentle detergent right away, and doing it by hand minimizes the chance of shrinkage.


You can get rid of the odor in your shoes by placing activated charcoal once you’ve taken them off, but a high-heat dryer is usually recommended for most things that won’t shrink right away – and shoes are certainly one of those things.

If you’re prone to getting athlete’s foot, regularly washing and drying your shoes is a must. Between washes, you should also put antifungal powder to eliminate any odors and minimize the change of a possible fungal infection.

Gym Bags

Frequent washing is the go-to option if your bag usually contains sweaty clothes, especially if they sit in your bag all day long.

However, you can’t just add them to the laundromat’ spin cycle as they might shrink. Like most bags, it’s better for you to wash them gently by hand using soap and water, and air-drying makes sure it lasts as long as possible.

For bags or other types of equipment, such as helmets and pads, that are hard to clean, it’s important that you hand-wash them using soap and water. Avoid soaking as much as possible since you might end up dissolving the adhesives that hold them together.


Use disinfectant wipes or rubbing alcohol to treat these as opposed to soaking or washing. It’s especially important to avoid the latter cleaning methods if your gloves are made of gentle materials.

If you need to use them frequently but don’t have the time to clean them, simply give your boxing or lifting gloves a quick wipe-down using disinfectant wipes.

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