Don’t Be Gross – Wash Your Workout Gear

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On a popular Facebook forum this week, someone posted a question – Do you re-wear your workout gear or do you wash it every time?

People, I was horrified to see all the people posting about re-wearing workout gear.  And I’m not just talking about shirts.  People were wearing bike shorts and sports bras and pants more than once before washing.

I’m no clean freak, but this is unacceptable.  And gross.  And I’m not just talking about the smell.  Because let’s be honest, if you’re working out at home alone, the only one who cares if you smell is you.  And a little BO offending the nostrils never killed anyone.

No, my concern here is all of the other bacteria and dirt that is collecting in your clothing that you’re just putting back onto your body.  Say you do a workout and you then hang your clothes up to dry.  Well, all those fun little bacteria now on your clothes can hang out in that dampness and munch on the sweat and dirt (including oils from your skin and skin cells themselves) and multiply.  And then you put the clothes back on your body.  Let’s not even talk about what happens if you’ve been at the gym and picked up some strange bacteria in your clothes.

Now, this bacteria probably won’t kill you.  But it can lead to skin irritation, acne, and dermatitis, none of which are fun, and all of which can lead to bigger problems if not treated properly.  And if you already have irritated skin and introduce a colony of bacteria… well, I’m no scientist, but that seems like a bad plan.

And have you ever picked up an item of clothing that’s still a little damp from sweat and put it back on?  That can lead to a fungal infection, including yeast infections.  And don’t just think this is something the ladies get.  Have you heard of jock itch?  That’s a fungal infection, and it can end up throwing a party, typically in the groin area or the bra area (but it can happen anywhere).  Definitely not an experience that I would recommend.

My rule is this: If the clothing either 1) touched my skin or 2) got sweaty, it gets washed.  So if I’m wearing a jacket over a long sleeved shirt in the winter, that jacket is fine.  But if I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt over a short sleeved shirt, the sleeves of the top shirt also touched my skin so everything gets washed.

What if you don’t own enough workout gear to get you between trips to the laundromat?  Do you have a sink?  Wash your stuff in the sink.  I’ve been known to do this with sports bras because they are the item I own the fewest of.  It’s really not hard, I promise.

If you want to re-wear your jeans 10+ times before washing, go for it (unless they get sweaty or smell or you spill a plate of spaghetti on them).  But when it comes to your workout gear, throw that stuff into the wash.  No one wants a weird infection.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Be Gross – Wash Your Workout Gear

  1. I am completely skeeved out thinking that people are getting multiple wearings out of their gear. Nasty!
    I have an epic sweat rate….sometimes I wish I could change during a workout. Two wearings? Never. Gross.

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