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How to Wash Crossfit Clothing – Gear Cleaning Guide

February 21, 2019

CrossFit is a high-intensity workout that combines elements of weight lifting, gymnastics, plyometrics, and other exercises. Incredibly fast-paced, many of the routines can be done in less than 15 minutes. Considered a competitive sport by many, the regimen was created by Greg Glassman in 2000. Today, it is practiced by over 13,000 gyms across the world.

Unsurprisingly, CrossFit training comes with a number of benefits. First and foremost, it strengthens your hearts and lungs. Not only that, but it increases muscle strength, endurance, power, flexibility, stamina, and speed. Given how intense these workouts are, it’s not surprising to know that it also helps with weight loss.

Is Special Gear Required for CrossFit?

As you can expect, the sport requires the use of certain equipment. For instance, you’d need weights, stands, plyo boxes, gymnastic rings, squat stands, and training bars. Luckily, most of these will be available to you at the gym during lessons and training sessions. With that said, some people do choose to buy their own gear. 

Other than that, though, there are other things that you’ll need. For starters, you’ll need to appropriate clothing—something that is suited for high-intensity workouts. Seeing as how you’ll be doing a lot of weightlifting, you’ll also need specialized shoes, as well as supports for your arms and knees.

Keeping Your CrossFit Gear Clean

Chances are, you and your gear will both be covered in sweat after a training session. For this reason, many people will bring a change of clothes with them to the gym. After all, who wants to sit around in a sweaty shirt?

crossfit is a high intensity workout

As it turns out, however, there are other reasons why you’d want to change out of them. For one thing, there’s the smell. As it is, bacteria love moist environments. Given the chance, they will grow and proliferate in your CrossFit gear. When this happens, it can be difficult to get rid of the odor completely. Not to mention that it can lead to icky things like irritation and infection.

To combat this, you want to keep your CrossFit gear clean at all times. When it comes to that, there are some things that you want to do and avoid. Can you put your shirts and shorts into the washing machine? Should you hand wash them instead? What should you do with your sleeves and shoes? These are some of the things that we’ll be explaining below.

The Best Way to Wash CrossFit Shirts

Unlike some sports, you can pretty much wear any type of shirt for CrossFit. With that said, most people tend to opt for activewear—and for good reason. Specially designed for workouts, these garments will keep you dry by wicking perspiration away from the skin. Not only that, but they are breathable and comfortable to wear; they do not restrict your movement whatsoever.

These types of shirts are typically made out of man-made fibers such as polyester or nylon. In some cases, more than one type of fabric is blended together. For the most parts, though, that doesn’t affect the method of washing.

How to Properly Machine Wash Your Activewear Shirts for CrossFit 

Activewear is machine washable. Before you stuff everything into the washer, however, you want to make sure that they are of similar colors; you do not want to put opposite colors in together, that will lead to bleeding. If necessary, divide your clothes into separate loads.

To make it easier to get rid of the body oils, turn your shirts inside out—that will make the washing easier. Put your CrossFit shirts into the machine and select a gentle cycle (any other cycle would likely damage the fabric). Add an enzyme formula laundry detergent—we recommend using ACTIVE detergent as it is specifically formulated for activewear. Start the wash cycle and wait for it to finish. Always use cold water.

putting crossfit shirts into the washer

Note: Never add fabric softener to synthetic material; the chemicals will impede its moisture-wicking abilities. Not only that, but it will make washing out the oils and sweat more difficult.

Take your shirts out when the cycle is finished. Line them dry—they should dry relatively quickly. Do not put them in the dryer. While heat resistant, synthetic fibers will still get damaged over time.

Washing Your Crossfit Activewear Shirts by Hand

Alternatively, you can wash your CrossFit shirts by hand. Assuming that you don’t have a big pile of clothes, you can just do everything in the sink. Fill it with water and add a bit of ACTIVE detergent. Create a soapy solution by mixing the two liquids with your hand. When suds are visible, place your shirts into the sink. Soak them for at least 15 minutes—make sure that all of the fabric is submerged in the solution.

Pro-tip: If there is a stain, add a bit of extra ACTIVE detergent onto that spot. Rub it in with your fingers before soaking the item in the solution. This method can also be used before putting your shirt into the washer.

Wash each of the shirts gently after soaking. You can do this by lightly massaging the fabric or by rubbing it against itself. Once you feel that it is clean, rinse the detergent off with water. Hang them up and allow them to drip dry. Do not wring the shirts like a towel—this will damage the fibers.

washing sports bras for crossfit

Note: The above methods can also be used to wash sports bras (many women choose to wear them to CrossFit classes).

Washing Tips For Those Who Wear Cotton Shirts 

Not everybody wears activewear to CrossFit and that’s okay. At the end of the day, it is breathable to some extent; it’s also more gentle on the skin for those with sensitivities.

Generally speaking, you can wash cotton shirts in the same fashion as those made from synthetic materials. If anything, there are fewer precautions with cotton. After all, it is quite durable! For instance, you can wash cotton clothes with warm water. If you want to prolong the life of the shirt, though, cold water is still recommended. Do not use hot water as that will shrink the cotton. 

Unlike polyester, which reacts poorly with chlorine bleach, cotton will not turn yellow when bleached. For this reason, you can use it to get rid of stains and spots.

As far as drying goes, you want to avoid putting your cotton shirts in the dryer. While the occasional tumble dry (on low heat) is fine, regular use can lead to shrinkage. If possible, hang the item up and allow it to drip or air dry.

How to Clean Your CrossFit Shorts

CrossFit shorts are comparable in that they are typically made out of synthetic fabrics. Considering this, they can be washed in a similar fashion to the shirts. In fact, you can put them together in the same load if they are like colors. If they aren’t you’ll have to separate them into two different loads.

Since we already went over the washing instructions for these types of clothes, let’s take a look at how you can tackle odors.

how to wash crossfit shorts

Easiest Way to Deodorize Your CrossFit Shorts

With all the sweat that they come in contact with, it’s not surprising to know they can develop an odor. Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to get rid of the smell.

One of the simplest things that you can do is to “pre-treat” them. More specifically, you want to soak them in a tub of soapy water for at least 15 minutes before putting it into the wash or hand washing the item. By doing this, it will be much easier to get rid of the unpleasant odor.

Note: If necessary, use white vinegar instead of detergent for soaking.

Speaking of vinegar, you can also add some to the washing machine. That is, you want to pour vinegar instead of detergent into the washer for the rinse cycle. That will help to eliminate the smell. Don’t worry, you won’t notice the vinegar at all!

Last but not least, try using baking soda. Instead of adding vinegar to the washing machine, sprinkle a bit of baking soda to your shorts. With that, your laundry will come out smelling fresh!

Deodorizing CrossFit Lifting Shoes

Ideally, you should only wear your lifting shoes at the gym. Wearing them outside will make them deteriorate faster. Still, they are fairly easy to clean.

Using Soap and Water

While they’re not machine washable, you can clean them with soapy water. In a container, mix together water and soap. Use a washcloth or brush to clean the surface of the shoe with the solution. When you’re done, wipe it dry with a clean paper towel.

If necessary, the sole can also be cleaned with soap and water. Using a soft bristled brush, clean the underside of the shoe. Rinse with water and wipe dry.

Deodorizing Your Lifting Shoes

After a while of lifting, your shoes can develop an odor. To get rid of the smell, sprinkle some baking soda into the shoes and leave it overnight. Alternatively, you can put them in a ziplock bag and freeze them overnight; the cold temperatures will kill off the odor-producing bacteria.

Pro-tip: You can prevent the development of odor by stuffing your shoes with newspaper; this will eliminate the residual moisture. As another option, you can stuff it with cedar wood (a shoe tree made out of cedar wood works too).

Washing Instructions for CrossFit Knee and Arm Sleeves

Sleeves are often worn to protect the knees and arms. While it depends on the individual model, most are constructed out of synthetic fabrics or rubbers. For added protection, some also come with silicone inserts. Seeing as how they stay close to the skin, they can get quite sweaty. 

cleaning cross fit knee sleeves

Best Method to Clean Crossfit Knee and Arm Sleeves

Ideally, they should be hand washed. Given their size, you can easily accomplish this in the sink or a small container. To make the washing easier, it’s recommended that you first soak it in soapy water for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Avoid twisting or wringing the material as that can cause damage. Drape it over a drying rack and allow it to air dry.

Having said that, most can be put into the washing machine—just make sure to use cold water with a small amount of ACTIVE detergent (otherwise it can be difficult to rinse out). Do not put them into the dryer. Instead, allow them to air dry.

Note: It’s a good idea to invest in more than one set of sleeves if you participate in CrossFit regularly. With that, you won’t have to worry about them not drying before your class.

In between washes, you can wipe the sleeves down with a damp cloth or sponge. If necessary, spray a little bit of vinegar onto the fabric to eliminate door.

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