Advance warning: this is a blog post about washing clothes... Sounds terribly dull, I know, but here's the thing, your activewear kit is becoming increasingly specialist with lots of clever technology used to create fabrics which can wick away sweat, retain their shape, stay pingy, stretchy and supportive. Washing it is essential of course, and the following 6 tips will help you preserve your activewear and ensure it continues to performs for you.
1) Wash straight away after a sweaty work out - don't leave in kit bags as bacteria will build up, and this causes the whiffy smells that will get you relegated to the back corner of your hot yoga class....
2) Fully expose the sweaty, grotty bits, and protect the prints and colour by turning activewear inside out before washing.
3) Wash cool - I know the temptation is to wash a sweaty kit on a hot wash, but this really won't do the fabric any good. Read your labels, but I'm pretty sure if you are buying good quality technical gear, it will tell you to WASH COOL (and worth noting that modern washing detergents work just as well on 30 degrees, so you can significantly decrease your carbon footprint by washing ALL your laundry on 30).
4) Best to try and avoid fabric conditioner: performance fabrics are designed to wick water away from the skin through a combination of weave, thread, and special coatings. Conditioner works by coating the threads of your clothes with a waxy-like substance, and so can impede the fabric's performance. Try adding a half cup of white vinegar to your wash's rinse cycle - much cheaper than fabric softener, won't damage your kit, or harm the environment and you'll always have a tasty salad dressing to hand... I also like to pop a lavender pouch in my kit bag.
5) NEVER TUMBLE DRY. Written in caps as you should make this a life rule. Tumble drying uses a serious amount of energy and can be pretty damaging to your clothes. Taking a typical 30°C wash, three-quarters of the carbon footprint comes from the drying rather than the washing. (Source: How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee).
Hang outside ideally, in the fresh air. Your kit will dry pretty quickly and the UV light from the Sun will help kill any lingering bacteria build up. (And you have obeyed point 2, right? So your kit is hanging on the line nicely inside out, still protecting the colours from the UV rays which can fade colours).
(Photograph: Flip The Dog)
Hmmm, I hear you, so the Sun is wishful thinking most of the time... but even the oxygen circulating when laundry is hung on a clothes rail will help eradicate bacteria-up and smells.
6) ...And similarly NEVER IRON! (Hurrah! You are also welcome to make this a life rule too). Ironing is a serious no no, with the potential to melt your beloved yoga leggings...
So yes, this is my first (and last, hopefully!) post about washing clothes... But really it's about preserving the lifespan of your clothes, buying better, buying less and consciously trying to lessen our footprints on the planet.
Read more about why we think sustainable fashion is important here.