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Washing & Care Guide for Gymnastics Clothing

April 20, 2019

Gymnastics is a great form of exercise. Not only does it requires strength, but it requires flexibility and a good sense of balance. As with most sports, it comes with a number of benefits. 

Health-wise, it prevents a number of conditions including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. It also promotes healthy muscles and bones. According to studies, it also reduces stress and increases self-esteem. 

What Kind of Gear is Needed for Gymnastics?

Gymnastics requires a certain attire.

For starters, all gymnasts need to wear leotards—at least in competition. Skin-tight garments, they’re named after the famous acrobatic performer, Jules Leotard. Made from synthetic fabrics, these types of clothing can be sleeveless, short sleeved or long sleeved. Highly comfortable, they’re designed to allow for a full range of movement—something that’s necessary when it comes to gymnastics.

types of gymnastics gear

Aside from that, there are other accessories such as hand grips, wrist bands, ankle straps, and more. If anything, they’re just as important as the leotard itself!

Why It’s Important to Keep Your Gymnastics Gear Clean

Gymnastics demands a lot of endurance and strength. Chances are, you’ll be sweating a lot after a session at the gym. What’s associated with sweat? Bad smells. If left unwashed, your gear, especially your leotard, can develop terrible odors. You wouldn’t want to be the one known for that, would you?

Not only is there the issue of smell, but it’d be unhygienic as well. After all, contaminants can form on moist fabric. As you can imagine, it’s not hard for them to spread to different surfaces. Do you have an open wound or cut? If so, there’s also a chance of infection! The fact that leotards are close-fitting definitely doesn’t help either.

What should you do to combat the odor and residues? Put your gear in the wash! That’s right, you should always give your garments and accessories a good wash after training at the gym. That will be enough to keep the ick at bay!

But wait, how should gymnastics gear be washed? Can you just throw your leotard and hand grips into the wash with your everyday clothes? Are there certain things that you shouldn’t do?

Not sure? Don’t worry—we’ll be going over the washing instructions for everything below. Remember, you can easily ruin a garment if you wash it the wrong way! Always double check the care tag label before putting anything in your washer.

How to Wash Gymnastics Leotards

As mentioned earlier, it’s not uncommon for leotards to get sweaty. Not just sweat, but they can also get dirty from other things, such as the chalk that you use to dry your hands with. Fortunately, however, these garments are easy to wash. Let’s take a look at how you can clean them.

how to wash gymnastics leotard

Can You Put Gymnastics Leotards in the Washing Machine?

Yes, they are. Before you put it in the machine, turn it inside out. This is essential if you want your leotards to last—it will help to prevent snags, something that’s common when you’re using the washer. It’s also a good idea to put them in a mesh laundry bag. Don’t have one? You can improvise with a clean pillowcase.

Pro-tip: You can put them in the same load as your other clothes (ideally ones that are made from similar fabrics) as long as their colors match. In other words, don’t be mixing light and dark colored items together. I’m sure you wouldn’t want dyes to go onto your light-blue leotard.

Add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent to the center of the machine. Put your leotard in and wash with a delicate cycle. Always use cold water; hot water is not particularly ideal for synthetic fabrics—as a matter of fact, it can lead to shrinkage. Do not use fabric softeners as they will hinder your leotard’s ability to pull sweat from your skin. If necessary, use white vinegar as a softening agent.

When the cycle is finished, take the leotard out of the machine. Line it dry. Do not put it in the dryer. Chances are, it will shrink.

Washing Your Gymnastics Leotard by Hand

Fill your sink with cool water (you can also use a container or a bucket). Avoid hot water as that can damage the fabric. Add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent and mix the solution together with your hand. Turn your leotard inside out and submerge it in the mixture. Try not to have it bunched up if possible. Let it sit in the sink for at least 30 minutes.

Wash the leotard by gently rubbing it with your palms. Once it’s lathered up, pick it up and rinse it under running water. Continue until all of the soap suds have cleared away. It’s important to make sure that there’s no detergent left—ones that are left on the fabric can cause skin irritation, not to mention that it will damage the garment over time!

Lie the leotard flat on a clean surface (you can lay a towel on the table). Do not hand-wring the garment to remove water—that will damage the fibers. Instead, roll it up with a towel; this will get rid of the excess water. Hang it up to dry. As mentioned earlier, you never want to put it in the dryer, even on the lowest setting! Do not put it under direct sunlight either. 

Removing Stains From Your Leotard Gymnastics

The easiest way to get rid of stains is to use detergent—ACTIVE detergent. Pour a small amount into a bowl and mix with warm water. Dab some onto a sponge or brush and use it to saturate the stained fabric. It’s important that you saturate the entire area—apply it from both sides (i.e. inside and outside) if you have to. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes. Afterward, check for the stain. If it’s still there, repeat the above steps. If it’s gone, you can launder the leotard as normal.

Alternatively, you can try using baking soda. Make a paste by mixing it with some water. Apply the paste onto the problem spot; leave it there for at least 30 minutes. Rinse it off before laundering as normal.

Best Way to Clean Gymnastics Hand Grips

cleaning gymnastics grips

Gymnastics grips are generally made from thin leather. Considering this, it’s generally not recommended that you wash them with water. Doing so can lead to rotting—they’ll also wear out more quickly! For the most parts, water will also void their warranty.

Using a Grip Brush

What you want to do is to just brush off any chalk build with a grip brush. Holding it in one hand, gently brush off the chalk with a motion that goes with the leather’s grain (typically up and down). Avoid brushing the stitching as that can lead to tears.

Use Grip Dogs

There are special products out there called Grip Dogs that will remove any sweat smell from your grips. Simply slip them on and leave them overnight—that will eliminate all of the moisture from the leather.

Washing Instructions for Gymnastics Shorts and Pants

Gymnastics shorts and pants are typically worn by men. While they look different, they’re generally made from similar fabrics as leotards.

best way to wash gymnastics shorts

Putting Your Gymnastics Shorts and Pants in the Washing Machine

As always, you want to start by flipping the bottoms inside out—that will also make them easier to clean. If you want, you can always put them in a net bag to prevent snags. Feel free to wash them with your other gear if they’re similarly colored.

Prepare the washing machine by adding one scoop of ACTIVE detergent (two, if you’re washing it with a lot of other clothes). Load your shorts and pants in and close the door. Select a delicate cycle and wash with cold water only. Never use hot water—the high temperature will damage the clothing fibers. Similar to leotards, you do not want to add any fabric softener; those types of product will ruin the garments’ sweat-wicking finish.

Take out your gymnastics shorts and pants once the wash cycle is finished. Take them out of the laundry bags and hang them up to dry on a clothesline; you can also put them on a drying rack. Do not put them in the dryer for the reasons mentioned earlier.

Washing Gymnastics Shorts and Pants in the Sink

You can also wash your shorts and pants in the sink. Fill it with cool water and add a scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Agitate the solution with your hands—bubbles should appear. Put your items in and press down gently. Make sure that all of the fabric is in the water. Let it soak like that for 15 to 30 minutes.

How to Deodorize Gymnastics Wristbands

Gymnastics wristbands are typically made out of cotton, which means that they are washable!

how to clean gymnastics wristbands

Putting Gymnastics Wristbands in the Washer

As it turns out, you can just toss them into the washing machine with your laundry. Before you do, though, it’s a good idea to put them in a mesh laundry bag—that will keep them together and prevent snags.

Protip: Want to wash the wristbands by themselves? Add a few towels to the washer.

Pour in a scoop of ACTIVE detergent and wash with cold water; this is important—hot water can cause cotton to shrink. Do not use fabric conditioners, you want it to get rid of the sweat, after all. White vinegar can be used if you want to soften the items a bit.

Wait for the cycle to finish before grabbing your wristbands. Take them out of the net bags and line them dry. Never put them in the dryer—they’re not made to withstand extreme heat.

Washing Gymnastics Wristbands by Hand

It’s actually much simpler to just wash your wristbands by hand. Fill your sink with cool water and add one scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Agitate the water to thoroughly mix the solution. Once that’s done, put your wristbands in. Press down on them gently to submerge them fully. Let them sit there for 15-30 minutes.

Swirl the wristbands a few times in the detergent water. Take them out and put them on a clean towel—use it to get rid of some of the wetness. Hang it up to dry afterward. Do not put the wristbands in the dryer.

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Picture of Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant

Sophia Grant brings her extensive knowledge of laundry and clothing care to the masses with her intensive cleaning guides. Her thorough understanding of fabrics, detergents, and washing techniques helps readers master the art of maintaining their wardrobe. Sophia's advice ensures that anyone can achieve professional-level results at home, keeping their garments looking pristine and lasting longer.

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