Ever shown up to class and realized you already stink, even before slapping down your mat? Hot yogis, I feel your pain. After only a few classes, a funk develops in brand new yoga wear that resists normal laundering. Tech fabrics are great at wicking sweat from skin but cleaning them is a whole other challenge altogether.
Don’t throw away that smelly yoga tank just yet. In addition to the preventative measures you can take to limit the bacterial growth causing the stink, there are new sport laundry products that can help keep your yoga clothes smelling fresh for as long as you want!
First, prevention. After yoga, laundering clothes immediately is not always possible. The next best option is hanging clothes up and isolating them from each other. I am not suggesting you place smelly yoga clothes on padded satin hangers alongside your fine washables in the boudoir. No. Rather, I mean, throw them over a shower door, on a towel rack, a robe hook. Air them out in the interim between yoga class and laundry time, otherwise mold and bacteria get trapped inside the fabric and things get more difficult from there. If you’re working, do your best. This is a triage situation. Try your car’s rear deck, a desk drawer, a bag with breathable fabric. Just—please—no plastic bags. Even a hamper is better than a plastic bag.
When you do wash your yoga clothes, you can pretreat them in a mixture of vinegar and water to try to kill bacteria. I say you can do this because it will probably not work as far as killing any smell goes, but this strategy is advocated by the eco-friendly cleaning products people. I believe it’s a waste of time, but I’m including it because I know yogis like to be kind to the earth. If it works, even better.
What you will end up doing, though is spending the money on a specialty sport wash. I would just start here; using vinegar, baking soda, or lemons is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. There are many of these washes available at sports equipment stores and on Amazon. The only problem with these washes is figuring out the proper amount of detergent to use and a bizarre, embarrassment-of-riches-like problem that they work so well that sometimes you end up transferring the stink from clothes to the drum of the washer. (If this happens, you just wash an empty load with detergent.)
Turn your clothes inside-out before you wash them. The sweat and funk is mostly on the inside, not on the outside, so get the detergent focusing on the problem areas. Use the hot setting, both with water and the dryer. Some of the higher tech fabric will say they cannot be washed in hot or dried on hot. Do what you think is best. The labels tend to be a little risk-averse, and some clothing can take more of a beating than the manufacturer suggests. If you’re worried about it, stick with warm or cold water and hope for the best. What you do not want to do is put an article of clothing that still stinks into a dryer, so make sure to sniff-test everything once it comes out of the washing machine.