Stinky workout gear is a sign you’re working hard at the gym, but it also means you need to get serious about cleaning your workout gear and controlling odours.

The dampness from sweat can lead to bacteria growth, which causes the bad smell. The longer the sweat sits in your clothing, or in your sneakers or gym bag, to smellier everything becomes. Here are some ideas to clean your stinky gym gear. 

Workout clothes
Try to wash your workout clothes as soon as possible after sweating in them. Turn clothes inside out before washing. Pour extra liquid laundry detergent on the underarm area and anywhere else the smell seems strong (HINT: Use detergent that targets protein-based stains). Let the detergent soak in for a few minutes, then wash your clothing in hot water, along with the rest of the detergent for the load. Add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. The acid in vinegar helps break down odours and disinfects.

Trainers tend to trap dampness from sweat…perfect conditions for bacteria growth. But there are some things you can do to slow the stink of foot odour in your favourite kicks.

  • Air them out. Open your sneakers, take out the insoles and leave them out to dry in the sun for a few hours.
  • Wash them. Fabric trainers can be tossed in the washer with a couple of towels and run through a warm cycle with regular laundry detergent. Try adding white vinegar to the rinse cycle to kill any odour-causing bacteria.
  • Scrub them. If you’re worried about putting your trainers in the washing machine, wash them by hand instead. Use a scrub brush with soap and water and scrub them all over (especially inside). Dry them off using a hair dryer or leave them outside in the sun. HINT: Try spraying your trainers with rubbing alcohol and letting them dry to help kill bacteria.

Once you’ve disinfected your trainers, it should be easier to deodorize. Here are some quick fixes to banish the bad smell:

  • Put a spoonful of baking soda in each of your sneakers overnight. Remove the baking soda from the shoes before wearing them.
  • Drop an unused tea bag in each sneaker and let them sit overnight. Remove them in the morning.

Gym bags
After a workout, it’s tempting to shove your sweaty gear into your workout bag and leave it zipped up until later that day (or longer). It’s best to empty your gym bag as soon as possible and wipe it out with disinfecting wipes. If you don’t have time to do that, here are two suggestions to eliminate the smell:

  • Backpacks and fabric gym bags can go through the wash on a warm water cycle. Use regular detergent and put the bag outside to dry or run it through the dryer with some towels.
  • Place a dryer sheet in your bag and leave it in there to help absorb any smells.

Water bottles
Most of us are guilty of carrying a sealed water bottle around a little too long, until it begins to smell mouldy. It’s important to clean out water bottles properly to prevent bacterial growth. Fill the water bottle with white vinegar and let it soak overnight. In the morning, wash with dish soap and water.  

Yoga mats
If something smells strange in child’s pose, chances are it’s a build-up of bacteria, sweat and dirt on your yoga mat. There are lots of cleaning products for yoga mats on the market, but you can also make your own natural cleaner. Combine half a cup of white vinegar with half a cup of water in a spray bottle (HINT: You can add a drop or two of your favourite essential oil). Spray the solution liberally and let it soak before wiping it off with a clean microfibre of cotton cloth. Repeat on the other side. Allow your mat to air dry. 

With regular attention and maintenance, your gym gear will stay fresh and fragrant longer, making workouts a breeze for you and those around you.