How Can I Remove the Smell from My Running Clothes?

Washing machine
Andrew Olney

"I like running in technical running clothes that wick moisture away, but I find that they sometimes still smell bad, even after I've washed them numerous times. How can I keep my running clothing from getting smelly?"

Technical fabrics are great for running because they wick away your sweat but, unfortunately, bacteria (which causes the smell) gets trapped in the fibers and can be hard to get out.

Washing your clothes soon after you run will make a huge difference, since the bacteria grows and the smell gets worse over time (as any runner who has left a sweaty shirt in a gym bag, car, or laundry basket for a couple of days can attest.)

Here are a couple of other tricks that work:

  • Using baking soda helps. Pre-soak your clothes in a solution of water and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (or just use water and a cup of baking soda). You can use the pre-soak setting on the washing machine or do it in a separate container. Then wash and use Arm and Hammer laundry detergent.
  • Try using a special detergent formulated for technical wear, such as WIN High Performance Sport Detergent. (Buy Win Detergent on Amazon.)  Those types of detergents will remove the odor, but won't degrade sweat-wicking or water-repellent properties.
  • There are also in-wash odor eliminators on the market that work well. One effective product is Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator, which you can add directly to your wash along with your favorite detergent. It can be used in any washing machine, including high efficiency (HE) ones. (Buy Febreze In-Wash Odor Eliminator on Amazon.)
  • Plain white vinegar is an inexpensive and cheap odor remover. Soak your running clothes in a cup or two of vinegar mixed with plain water. Then wash as usual. Or, pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the wash (along with your regular detergent).

There are also lots of new odor-fighting running clothes on the market.

They may sound too good to be true, but these running clothes do actually help keep you dry and odor-free. Although some of them are more expensive than your average running shirts, they're worth the investment because they'll last longer and keep you smelling fresh.


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