How to manage wet/smelly gym clothes
February 1, 2018 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I sweat a lot when I work out, which is leading to a couple issues with laundry management.

I more or less soak through my gym clothes. This causes me two issues:

1) When I go to work after the gym, my wet and smelly gym clothes have the entire day to marinate themselves in my gym bag and become extra repulsive. OR, I take them out of the bag to dry in my car all day, and my car smells bad instead.

2) Nothing in my laundry hamper (I keep a separate one for gym clothes) ever dries out, resulting in mega doom death smell that doesn't even necessarily come out in the wash.

Am I missing something obvious? Do I have acid poison sweat? How can I keep from ruining everything I own?
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve heard good things about the following but haven’t had the need to try it. Take a 5 gallon bucket and fill with oxyclean and water. Drop clothes into water and close the lid. Will easily keep until you get home. Can be left in car.
posted by machinecraig at 1:03 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do I have acid poison sweat?

No, you just have normal human sweat and a normal human population of microbes that likes nothing better but to get amongst your normal human sweat and party when given the chance.

So the trick is not to give them the chance. Instead of leaving damp sweaty gym clothes to fester in a damp sweaty gym bag in a microbe-friendly nice warm car all day, you might consider dumping them straight into a bucket with a tight-fitting lid full of water and one of the oxygen bleach products normally used for sanitizing cloth nappies.

That way, not only do your microbes not get any chance at all, but your gym clothes get pre-laundered to some extent just from bumping and sloshing about in their bucket on the way home.
posted by flabdablet at 1:07 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

For your home: Do you have room for a drying rack? You could hang the wet clothes on the rack until they're dry, then either chuck 'em into the hamper or directly into the washer. We do a variation of this at home, but we use backs of plastic chairs or just the sides of the laundry basket.
posted by sweetpotato at 1:09 PM on February 1, 2018

Also, go for 100% cotton clothing. Anything with any proportion of synthetic fibres in it will always smell worse than cottons after soaking up sweat. I'm a large sweaty man. If I wear cotton-poly T shirts, I smell bad by the end of a day. But after a day in 100% cotton I smell like a human being instead of a discarded gym shoe.
posted by flabdablet at 1:12 PM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yes, synthetic fibers will hold smell more, but don't use cotton for workout clothes, unless you like contact abrasion as it sticks to you. Additionally cotton fabric holds more moisture than synthetic workout clothes, so if you only have cotton that might be part of the problem.

What I do for my running stuff (which is sometimes literally dripping with sweat when I take it off) - put it all in a plastic bag, and smoosh out the air and twist it up. Yes, this doesn't let it dry. When you get home, take it out and hang it over the sides of the laundry hamper. In 12 hours my shirts/underwear is dry, and in 24 my shorts (thicker than shirts) are dry. Put the old (now dry) stuff hanging on the sides in the bottom before hanging up new stuff.

Alternate method that I've heard people use is the same as mine, except prior to putting the clothes in a bag, wear them into the shower so they get soaked (then take them off and shower). Wring out the clothes, and then put them in the bag.
posted by nobeagle at 1:24 PM on February 1, 2018

Also, go for 100% cotton clothing.
Holy Christ NO. The bucket idea is genius, but working out in cotton is miserable at BEST if you sweat a lot. Cheap tech fabrics can get smelly, but if you get slightly nicer ones and clean them promptly without letting them fester you'll be fine.

I ride a lot, and all cycling stuff is tech. Key to keeping my bibs and jerseys from getting funky is to let it DRY, so I hang them up where they can get airflow after a ride, and only toss them into the laundry hamper after they're dry. This helps a LOT, but it's not an option for your workout plan, sounds like.

For your use case, it sounds like the "in car bucket" approach might be a real winner here. That's clever as hell. A bucket with a spoonful of Oxyclean will probably keep the nasties at bay long enough to get home and wash stuff properly.
posted by uberchet at 2:06 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

n+1 for finding a way to let clothes dry before you put them into the hamper, which I always do, but I defer to the potential genius of the oxy bucket.
posted by acm at 2:28 PM on February 1, 2018

This might sound like a dumb question, but are you rinsing your clothes at the gym? They’re already soaked through, and I presume you’re taking a shower there. Just get in the shower in the clothes, take the clothes off in the shower, add some shampoo, gently wring out. After you’ve dried your post shower body, you can roll your clothes in the towel for one more wring. Then put them in a zippered wet bag (sold in the diaper supply and workout sections of amazon) to prevent escaping stink smell/car dampening. After work, do another soak/wring and air dry on a clothes rack and add to laundry in the morning. OR when you get home, put the workout clothes and the wet bag separately into a bucket of water with vinegar and detergent. Do not store clothes this way for long. I’d say change the water every day, wash every second or third day. Don’t run your wet bags or workout clothes through the dryer. Dry in sunshine for maximum destinking.

The only way I’ll endorse the bucket in the car trick is if you have a small bucket secured inside a bigger bucket with the bigger bucket prevented from tipping over. Because the last thing you want is gross sweat water sloshed into your carpeted trunk.
posted by bilabial at 2:50 PM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

Just throwing this out here, but it’s been my experience that some synthetics get stinkier than others. Alternatively, have you tried wool?
posted by oceano at 5:03 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Try dumping a pint of vinegar into the machine when you wash them.
posted by brujita at 5:13 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

if you have a small bucket secured inside a bigger bucket with the bigger bucket prevented from tipping over

...or, in the true gym spirit of Go Hard Or Go Home, acquire one of these.
posted by flabdablet at 6:19 PM on February 1, 2018

Mine get dumped in a bucket of cold soapy water when I get home, until I next get around to doing a load in the washing machine.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:37 PM on February 1, 2018

This was featured on How I Built This, it was designed for storing dirty nappies while travelling but could work?
posted by ellieBOA at 9:09 PM on February 1, 2018

+1 rinse the clothes at the gym. Does the place you work out have a pool? If so they probably have one of those swimsuit spinner dryer things that you could partially dry them in after rinsing.

My work friend who sweats A LOT on her bike ride in to work just hangs her bike clothes to air out on a bar under her desk. She worries that other people can smell it, but we have assured her we can’t. Since you say you’re already v concerned with the stink, maybe a rinse and ring followed by an air dry?
posted by greermahoney at 12:43 AM on February 2, 2018

Do clothes with copper fibers in them do anything in this regard? I've never bought any, but it's the one claim in advertisements that at least seems marginally feasible since copper has biocidal properties and is good for keeping barnacles from growing on ships.
posted by XMLicious at 2:01 AM on February 2, 2018

Pretty sure that once you have barnacles growing on your gym clothes it's time to consider replacing them.
posted by flabdablet at 2:33 PM on February 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

Could you completely outsource the cleaning by dropping off a small laundry bag of your gym clothes at a fluff-n-fold cleaners on your way to work? Then the next day, pick up your clean clothes as you drop off your dirty ones.
posted by Fuego at 2:13 PM on February 3, 2018

« Older Basement... Heated floor? Or rads?   |   Have You Used a TENS Unit For Pain Relief? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.