The Best Ways to Clean Your Indoor Cycling Clothes

Essential Strategies to Keep Your Workout Wear in Good Shape

Jogging supplies shot knolling style.
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Have you ever noticed that the cycling clothes you wear for your indoor workouts tend to get stinkier than those you wear for your outdoor rides? There are reasons for this. For one thing, people tend to sweat more during indoor cycling workouts than they do when riding outside. This is partly because you don’t have the benefit of fresh air or a breeze circulating around your body to cool you off and allow the sweat to evaporate the way you do while riding outside; plus, in a cycling studio, the close proximity of fellow cyclists can cause you to absorb some of their body heat as well as heating up the enclosed space, causing it to get extra hot and steamy during a class.

The net result: You’re likely to emerge from an indoor cycling workout seriously drenched.

You probably know that because of this fluid loss, it’s especially important to stay well hydrated during and after an indoor cycling workout. And you may know it’s a mistake to linger in sweaty clothes after the session for your skin's sake. Well, it’s also not good for your cycling clothes. Simply put, the longer you lounge around in sweat-drenched cycling attire, the more time the stench has to settle into the fragile fabric. (Plus, no one wants to be subjected to your sweat-induced body odor.)

To keep your cycling clothes in good shape, here are four essential strategies to follow:

  • Take them off ASAP after your workout. Even if you can’t wash them right away, don’t leave them in a wet pile on the floor or in the hamper. Turn them inside out and hang them up to dry to help minimize the growth of odor-causing bacteria in the moist fabric. Don’t wear your cycling clothes twice without washing them; if you didn’t sweat much, at least give the crotch and underarm areas a gentle hand-wash then hang the clothes to dry.
  • Wash them inside out. You can do this either by hand or on a gentle or delicate cycle in your washing machine. It’s best if you wash your workout clothes separately from your other clothes to avoid spreading bacteria. Be sure to close all zippers or compartments, and don’t wash them with anything that has Velcro, which can damage the fabric. It’s best to use warm or hot water. Research has found that the increased use of low-temperature wash cycles and gentle detergents can leave bacteria in washing machines and possibly in clean clothes (especially underwear); not only can this bacteria lead to infection but it can contaminate other items in subsequent washes, leading to what the researchers have dubbed an endless case of ​​"sick laundry cycle."
  • Be choosy about cleaning products. Skip fabric softeners and stick with a basic detergent that’s free of perfumes and dyes. If you want to take extra steps to get rid of odors, soak your workout wear in a sink or clean tub with a cup of white vinegar and cold water for 15 to 30 minutes before putting them in the washing machine (don’t worry: the smell of vinegar will rinse out completely). Another odor-reducing trick: Putting a cup of baking soda into the washing machine, along with your stinky clothes and your usual detergent, can work wonders in getting the smell out.
  • Hang your clean clothes to try. Don’t throw your clean cycling clothes in the dryer because the heat and the movement can damage fragile fabrics like Lycra and Spandex. This can end up compromising the fit or integrity of your cycling clothes. Instead, hang your cycling clothes on a line outside (unless you have seasonal allergies) or on a drying rack inside in a well-ventilated area. Make sure they’re totally dry before you put them away.

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