Going to the gym can be a chore—and not just because of all that exercising you'll be doing. Your workout wear can get horribly smelly and caring for it in the wrong way might mean you end up damaging the technical elements that made it so great in the first place.
Here, tips for extending the life span of your fave fitness accessories:
1. Wash your clothes straight away.
"Leaving damp, sweaty workout wear waiting to be washed is a big no no, as well as leaving it in your gym bag (we're all guilty!)," Sally Dixon from fitness gear brand Every Second Counts says. "Leaving gym stuff to fester will do just that, fester bacteria, and ingrain smells which will be tough to get out no matter how many technical properties the fabric has."
2. If you can't, don't leave your dirty stuff with other clothes.
Bacteria can pass from different clothing items, so mixing your dirty gym wear with your dirty everyday clothes is a recipe for bacteria heaven.
"When you get home from the gym, take a few seconds to unpack your kit and hang it up to air dry the sweat until you're ready to pop it in the wash," Sally says.
3. Lay leggings flat to dry.
The weight of the water can stretch out your leggings if they're not hung the right way, making them ill-fitting and unusable.
4. Never use fabric softener.
"Fabric softener can damage the technical properties of a sports fabric and remove it's abilities to be sweat-wicking, anti-bacterial, etc.," Sally explains.
5. Use white wine vinegar on stinky clothes.
If you have seriously nasty smells that just won't budge, try adding a drop of white wine vinegar to the washing machine, or soaking your laundry in vinegar and cold water for up to half an hour.
6. Always air dry your gym clothes.
Sally says, "Make sure you read the wash care instructions for the garment; gym clothes usually like to be washed at lower temperatures, and always leave them to air dry."
7. Never wash new clothes with your fitness gear.
"Chucking that new pair of skinny black jeans into the washing machine with your gym clothes is not a good idea," Sally explains. "Dye from the previously unwashed jeans may transfer on to your gym kit and make it look gray/lackluster in color. Wash new items separately and keep your kit looking fresh."
8. Don't use extra detergent.
Extra soap isn't better for your extra smelly clothes as there is only so much detergent your washing machine can rinse away. Any left will just cling to clothing, trapping any bacteria already in the fibers and leaving a nasty smell.
9. Wear your sports bras on the loosest hook.
Always get your sports bras to fit you on the loosest hook—that way, as the bra stretches with use, you can wear on tighter settings and extend the amount of time you can use it before replacing.
10. Keep your running shoes out of the dryer.
Hot air is no good for your shoes and can work to break down the materials that support your feet.
11. Use newspaper on soggy trainers.
For seriously soggy footwear, stuff with newspaper in order to soak up the moisture and prevent lingering smells.
12. Rotate your workout wear.
It seems obvious, but the less you wear your gym clothes and the more time you give items like your shoes and sports bras to recover, the longer they will last.
13. Clean your yoga mat as you go.
This won't only extend its lifespan—it will keep your skin clear of bacteria infections, too.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.