The One Type Of Clothing You Should Be Washing Separately Above All Others
Jun 22, 2023
Your grandparents did it, and your parents taught you to do it, but now you're wondering if presorting laundry is a tradition you want to pass down to future generations. Proponents of commingling clothes maintain there's no reason to separate whites and colors today with the myriad of advances made to laundry detergent and washing machines. Granted, tossing all your dirty laundry in the same load won't threaten your health; however, doing so may harm the clothes you wear while trying to stay healthy. Trendy, moisture-wicking activewear that helps you look good while working out should still be washed separately to avoid compromising the fabric's integrity, causing unwanted shrinkage, and reducing its lifespan.
Looking stylish while sweating has become all the rage these days. No more showing up to the gym sporting a ratty cotton tee and a pair of cutoff sweats. Rather, high-performance activewear that combines function and fashion is considered an exercise staple due in large part to the versatility of its fabric.
Nearly all sportswear features synthetic fibers, including spandex, nylon, and polyester. The materials help make leggings, sports bras, and yoga pants stretchy, breathable, lightweight, and wrinkle-free; in other words, the ideal medium to don during a major sweat session. And when it comes to washing off built-up perspiration and other bodily fluids absorbed by athletic wear, it stands to reason you'd instinctively toss your sportswear in the washing machine with other heavily soiled clothes that require hot water and heavy agitation, but doing so would be a bad idea.
It's often said the one thing that nearly everyone gets wrong while doing laundry is failing to separate clothing by color, fabric type, or soil level. Regardless of how stringent you are in sorting each and every dirty item, when it comes to high-performance activewear, it's critical you clean it on its own. When you wash delicate sportswear with heavy and abrasive items like towels, jeans, or sweatshirts, you increase the risk of the garment stretching or losing its shape in the agitation process. In addition, nylon and spandex are magnets for lint, so washing them with a fleece hoodie or terry cloth robe can cause excessive pilling.
If you don't regularly presort laundry, make the exception when it comes to high-performance activewear, as you want to avoid bathing its specially treated fabric in hot water. High temperatures can shrink and distort the shape of your favorite sportswear by altering its elasticity. Additionally, high heat can fade the fabric's color, over time replacing it with a dull hue.
Likewise, excessive heat from the dryer can weaken athletic wear's synthetic fibers, reducing its durability and longevity. And as much as you may be revolted by the nasty smells rising from your pile of dirty workout clothes, refrain from fighting the funk by dousing sportswear in fabric softener. High-tech fabrics that feature water-resistant or moisture-wicking powers can lose their effectiveness as fabric softeners leave behind a coating that interferes with absorption properties.
Taking a few extra steps when washing activewear will go a long way to keeping it in tip-top shape so you can look cool during hot yoga. Start by checking the care labels; most synthetic fibers are machine washable as long as you use cold water and a delicate wash setting. Next, you'll want to turn the clothing items inside out. Doing so will allow the side of the garment that's absorbed the most sweat to receive maximum exposure to water and detergent.
Be sure to control the amount of soap used. While it may seem counterintuitive to limit detergent quantity on athletic wear that has been showered in sweat and stink, too much laundry soap will create a layer of soap residue that'll trap in odors and bacteria rather than rinsing them away. If you're concerned about getting particularly offensive-smelling activewear fresh, consider pre-soaking your items in a vinegar-and-water solution. Simply combine ½ cup of vinegar with water in a sink or large container, add in the dirty items, and soak for at least 30 minutes before adding the garments to the washing machine. Another option is to use laundry detergent specially designed for high-performance athletic wear, such as HEX Performance or Tide Sport.
Finally, skip the dryer and line dry activewear instead. Alternatively, you can lay items flat on a drying rack. However, if you're in a rush and the care label permits, you may place activewear in the dryer on the lowest heat setting.