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Clean & Deodorize Your Stinky Gym Bag With These Methods

June 11, 2023

What’s the best way to stay fit? By exercising. Ideally, you want to work out three to four times a week with a rest day in between—that will give you the maximum benefits. What kind of benefits? For one thing, you’ll be strengthening your heart and muscles.

Other Reasons Why You Should Go to the Gym:

  • It can boost your mood (thanks to the release of adrenaline)
  • It will increase your energy levels
  • It’s an effective way to lose weight
  • It reduces your risk of certain diseases (e.g. obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.)
  • It’s a great way to reduce stress

What to Put In Your Gym Bag

There are a few essential things that you have to bring with you to the gym. For one thing, you’ll need a good pair of sneakers. Aside from that, you’ll also want to pack your workout clothes (e.g. sports bra, yoga pants, socks, etc). Toiletries such as shampoo, deodorant, and cleansing wipes are also a good idea since you’ll probably be sweaty afterward. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle as well.

what to bring to gym

A Workout Towel

Aside from that, you’ll probably want to bring a towel (a small one will do). After all, no one wants to use a machine that’s drenched with someone else’s sweat. By bringing a towel, you’ll be able to quickly wipe down the equipment after using it—that way, it’ll be nice and clean for the next person. In fact, many gyms nowadays have a “no towel no workout” policy.


Another thing that you might want to bring with you is a pair of headphones. Surely, you have a workout playlist that you listen to when you’re training? As far as the type of headphones goes, it really comes down to preference. The wireless variety does have one advantage, though—you won’t be distracted by any wires.


You wouldn’t want to be known as the smelly person at the gym, would you?  If so, remember to bring some deodorant! Depending on how long you’re at the gym for, you might want to reapply it every once in a while.

Gym Clothes

This goes without saying but you want to wear the proper clothes to the gym. In other words, don’t show up in a pair of jeans—that’ll do you no good. Instead, wear something that’ll allow for a full range of movement. After all, you’ll be doing a bit of moving around.

Ideally, you’ll want to go for activewear, which is specifically designed for exercise. Unlike regular clothing, they come with a moisture-wicking finish that will keep you nice and dry—even when you’re sweating. Can you imagine trying to exercise in a shirt that’s drenched with sweat? Ick!

Fitness App

Are you serious about your health goals? If so, you might want to invest in a fitness tracker. These devices will allow you to measure your workouts—that way, you’ll be able to look back and see your progress over time.

You don’t even need a fancy device, if you want, you can just use one of the many apps that are available for iOS and Android.

Picking The Right Gym Bag

It only makes sense to have a proper gym bag, considering all the things you’ll be taking with you. Here are some things that you might want to consider when you’re shopping for one.

picking a gym bag

1. The Material of the Bag

Gym bags come in a variety of materials from leather to nylon. At the end of the day, you want to choose one that’s best suited for your needs. For instance, you might want to go for something a little lighter if you’ll be doing a bit of walker. Want something that’s waterproof? Perhaps you should consider one that’s made from nylon—they’re probably one of the most durable ones out there.

2. The Design of the Bag

First things first, you want to make sure that the gym bag is big enough for your essentials. Generally speaking, you won’t need anything too big (remember, you need to be able to put it in a locker), a medium-sized bag will suffice. Another thing to consider is the number of compartments—is there enough for all of your items? What about the straps? Can you wear the bag across your body like a messenger bag? Or is it more of a tote? What style would you prefer? These are a few things that you want to keep in mind.

3. The Construction of the Bag

Gym bags are not made equal—some will be more durable than others. Ideally, you want something that has strong stitches; that way, you won’t have to worry about it sustaining damage in the wash. Don’t forget, you will be washing the bag on a regular basis.

Best Materials For Gym Bags

Like we said earlier, you want to stay away from fabrics such as leather. Instead, opt for one of these two materials:


Nylon is a synthetic material that’s often used for clothing. It’s also a popular choice for accessories such as scarves and bags. Why? It’s durable, elastic, and resistant to abrasion. On top of that, it almost never shrinks, even with regular washes. If anything, that makes it a good choice for workout-related gear.


Polyester is also man-made. As with nylon, it’s typically used for workout gear—and that includes accessories such as gym bags. While it isn’t as elastic as nylon, it is comparable in terms of durability. What’s more, is that it’s quick-drying. In other words, you won’t have to wait forever for it to dry after washing. The material itself is also light so it won’t add to the bag’s overall weight.

Best Ways to Deodorize Your Gym Bag

It’s not uncommon for gym bags to develop odors. After all, you’ll be using it to carry your sweaty clothes! Fortunately, there are several ways that you can deodorize the inside.

how to deodorize gym bag

Eliminating Odors with Tea Bags

Believe it or not but tea bags actually make fantastic deodorizers! Depending on the size of your gym bag, you’ll want to put three to four unused ones in. Leave it there for a couple of days and the aromatic herbs will be able to work their magic! Keep in mind, though, you won’t be able to use the bag during that period.

Using Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are not just for the dryer—they can be used for other things too! For instance, you can use them to soak up the smell inside your bag. They’ll wear out after a while so you’ll want to replace them every couple of days. This is probably one of the easiest ways to keep your bag smelling fresh!

Removing Odors with Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is another option. A natural air purifier, these pouches will eliminate any odor that’s present in your bag. They’ll also prevent the growth of mold, mildew, and other pathogens. What’s great about them is that they’re reusable. In fact, many will last for upwards of 2 years! All you have to do is lay them out in a sun every once and a while and they’ll be good as new.

Using a Deodorizing Spray

There are many different types of deodorizing sprays that you can use on your gym bag. Just give it a spray and the product will cover up any odor that’s present.

If you want, you can even make your own with water and white vinegar! Simply mix the two things together in a spray bottle and spray away!

Using White Vinegar

White vinegar is pretty much a miracle ingredient when it comes to icky smells. Start by bringing your gym bag to the tub. Fill it up with cold water and add one cup of white vinegar. Leave the bag in the mixture for at least 20 minutes—that will allow the vinegar to neutralize the odors. If you want, you can also add a little bit of white vinegar to the washing machine if you’re using that method.

Adding Baking Soda

Baking soda is another ingredient that’s excellent at getting rid of odors—and you probably already have it in the kitchen. Unlike detergents, it won’t just mask the scent, it’ll actually eliminate it! As for how to use it, all you have to do is add one cup of the powder into the washing machine with your gym bag. Or if you want, you can soak it in a baking soda/water mixture.

How to Prevent Your Gym Bag From Smelling

Want to know how to prevent the odors? Here are some tips that can help!

Empty it As Soon As You Get Home

Don’t keep your sweaty clothes in the bag. Take them out as soon as you get home from the gym. This will help to prevent the buildup of moisture, which can lead to bacteria growth. It’s also a good idea to unzip the bag and let it air out.

Wipe it Down Every Once in a While

Make it a daily (weekly, at the very least) habit to clean the inside of your bag. You can either use antibacterial wipes or a damp cloth—just remember to dry it thoroughly afterward. Depending on the design of the bag, you might have to flip it inside out so that it can air dry.

Using Dryer Sheets

Who says that dryer sheets are just for clothes? You can also use them for your gym bags. Similar to the teabag method, you want to put them in the bag. Instead of taking them out a few hours afterward, however, you can just leave them in. Replace once the scent fades.

Using Essential Oils

You can keep your gym bag fresh with essential oils between washes. It’s easy to use too—just fill a spray bottle with water. From there, add a few drops of essential oil of your choice. Use the mixture to mist the bag and allow it to dry.

Using Silica Gel Packets 

Have a few silica gel packets lying around at home? Don’t throw them away—you can use them to deodorize your gym bag. Just toss them inside and they’ll sock up all the sweat and moisture. In doing so, it won’t develop odors nearly as fast!

Keep Your Shoes Out of The Bag (If Possible)

Avoid putting your shoes in your gym bag. As you can imagine, the bacteria and grime from the soles can easily transfer onto the fabric, which would lead to odors. At the very least, put your shoes inside a plastic bag before putting them in your gym bag.

Washing Instructions for Gym Bags – Duffels & Backpacks

Sometimes, you can get away with just deodorizing your bag. If the odor gets really bad, however, you might need to give the entire thing a wash.

machine wash gym bag

Are Gym Bags Machine Washable?

Most gym bags can be put in the wash. To make sure, though, you should always check the care label.

The first step is to close all of the zippers. Left open, they can easily scratch against the material itself, which can cause damage. Secure any velcro attachments that might be on the straps and put the bag in a mesh laundry bag. The main benefit of using these bags is that the item won’t be tossed around as much; it’ll also reduce the amount of friction between the bag and your other laundry (assuming that you’re washing it with other garments).

ACTIVE detergent can be used if your bag is made from synthetic materials. Not too sure? Take a look at the label inside—it’ll tell you what type of fabric is used. Add half a scoop to the machine and run a cold water cycle on a gentle setting. Do not use fabric conditioner or bleach.

Remove your gym bag afterward. Let it air dry completely. Do not tumble dry—the fabric will likely deteriorate faster in the heat.

Washing Your Gym Bag by Hand

Don’t want to put your gym bag in the washer? No problem. You can easily wash it by hand.

active detergent for activewear 5

Fill a large bucket (or sink) with water and stir in a scoop of ACTIVE detergent. Agitate the liquid; you should get a bubbly mixture. Put the gym bag in—press down gently at the top to submerge all of the fabric. Let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes.

Swirl the gym bag around a few times before picking it up. Run it under clean water to remove the detergent—continue until the water turns clear. Alternatively, you can soak it in clean water after draining away the dirty water. In any case, you want to rinse out all of the soap suds.

Gently squeeze out some of the water from the gym bag. Transfer the item to a flat surface. Lightly blot the bag with a towel to get rid of the moisture before hanging it up to dry. Assuming that it’s made from synthetic fabrics, it shouldn’t take too long to dry.

Removing Stains From Your Gym Bag

Spilled something on your gym bag? ACTIVE detergent will take care of that for you—mix a little bit of the powder with water and use it to saturate the area. Let it soak through the fabric for at least 30 minutes; that should give the enzymes in the detergent enough time to break down the substance.

Is the stain still visible? If so, you might want to treat it again with a little more detergent. Once it’s gone, you can wash the gym bag as normal.

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