If you have ever hit the speed bag, gone for a long run, or really committed to your HIIT workout, you know how the bacteria released from sweat can build up, and the smell can transfer to your clothes. And quite frankly, sometimes those odors don’t always completely go away after washing. “Body soils, like oils and skin flakes, break down over time to form small, stinky molecules, says Jessica Zinna, Ph.D., Tide Senior Scientist. “The water used in everyone’s washing machines contains metals and other minerals, and those metals and minerals combine with body soils to produce a mixture that can stick to the fibers of your clothes,” she says.
To avoid washing your clothes in a “wall of stink,” you need to use a high-quality detergent to truly clean your clothes. If you don’t eventually, those body soils can get stuck to the fabric of your clothes and will smell, even right after they are washed. “If you don’t notice it when you pull your clothes out of the dryer, you’ll notice when your body’s natural heat and moisture causes the odor to “boomerang” back to life as you wear the clothes,” says Zinna.
This can be even more problematic with clothing you wear to the gym or that you exercise in. “Natural greases and soils like sweat and sebum are particularly attracted to the synthetic fibers used in workout clothing, like polyester, nylon, and elastane (we refer to these as odor magnets!),” she says. So it’s imperative to wash these garments with a deep cleaning, high-quality detergent to prevent soil build-up and odors.
Here are ten of the best laundry detergents to remove odors and bacteria buildup from your workout clothing or any other fabrics that need extra care.
1. Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty
Tide Hygienic Clean is formulated with a combination of specialized ingredients, including surfactants, enzymes, and polymers, that are meant to remove body soils and grease. It works well no matter the water temperature so you can hot, cold or warm. It helps ensure body soils are rinsed away and are not deposited back onto your clothes during the washing process. So no odor “boomerang” effect.
2. Safely Everyday Laundry
If you prefer a plant-based product that works hard to remove stink and stains, Safely made with coconut-oil-derived surfactants and natural enzymes will fight stains and wash away dirt is a great option. It is lightly scented and keeps white looking crisp, while brights and dark-colored clothing’s true hues are preserved. The best part is that it is highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way; for best results, wash whites and heavily-soiled cotton and linen items in hot water, and darks and synthetic blends in warm or cold water.
3. Swash by Whirlpool, Liquid Laundry Detergent
Whirlpool the company that is well known for its appliances also has a detergent designed to care for your belongings with no phosphates and is 8x concentration, so you need to use less—one squeeze for regular loads, two squeezes for large loads. Added bonus is that it works in both HE and non-HE washers.
4. Molly’s Suds All Sport Activewear Detergent
Molly’s Suds All Sport Activewear Detergent is natural laundry solution designed to specifically remove stubborn stains and eliminate tough odor-causing bacteria from workout gear, sports apparel and also delicates. It is as effective when hand washing as well as when using a machine.
5. Laundress Sport Detergent
Created for laundering swimwear and for combating sweat in activewear, Laundress sports detergent is made to keep your gym clothing looking good. It has a light, fresh smell and a formula that cares for as it cleans performance fabrics, including nylon, spandex, cotton, and synthetics. It is free from petroleum, phosphate, phthalates, and artificial colors. Plus, it is highly concentrated — can clean up to 32 washes.
6. Sensitive Home’s Laundry Detergent
If you have skin sensitives and allergies you know the importance of finding a gentle detergent. Sensitive Home’s laundry detergent is plant-based, has no known irritants, harsh chemicals or toxic residues yet still removes tough stains and odors.
7. HEX Performance Laundry Detergent
8. Active Wear Laundry Detergent
The name of this product says it all. It is explicitly made for workout clothing and is created with natural plant-based enzymes that remove and eliminate smells from your gym apparel, such as yoga pants, underwear, socks and bras. It eliminates odors and is free from phosphate, gluten-free, and septic safe. Plus, it is super concentrated and does up to 90 loads per bag.
9. WIN Sports Active Fresh Laundry Detergent
Designed to dig deep and eliminate odors from microfiber, synthetic, and technical fabrics, WIN Sports Active Fresh laundry detergent, though fragrance-free, is lightly scented. It is also septic safe, hasn’t been tested on animals, and bottled in recycled plastic.
10. OxiClean with Odor Blasters
Sometimes even the best detergent needs a little help, and OxiClean with Odor Blasters can help remove really tough stains and stubborn odors. It is chlorine-free and color-safe, using oxygen to neutralize stinky smells from towels and socks. To get the best from this product, pre-soak your garments and then add them to your wash. Each tub does up to 57 loads.