Washing Spandex Workout Clothes: An Expert Guide

From ignoring garment care labels to using clothes dryers, these missteps can wreak major havoc on your workout clothes.


Spandex is an extremely versatile fabric. From cycling, to swimming, to running and football, its great for both men and women for all types of athletic activities for its compressive qualities.

Since the 50s, Spandex has grown vastly in popularity, from a hot fashionable item to an everyday staple of "athleisure wear." But despite its popularity, people today are still using the incorrect methods of washing and cleaning their Spandex workout clothes. 

In this article, we'll cover exactly how to wash and care for your Spandex garments, keeping your athletic wear at the top of its game.

1. Check the garment care label.

Always check the care label for temperature and detergent instructions. A lot of them have requirements—don’t use heat, don’t use bleach—so it’s always important to check first, because these things aren’t cheap. When in doubt, err on the cold side. “High-performance fabric is not designed to handle hot water, so it will often weaken many of the nylon or latex fibers. To retain maximum shape and flexibility, spandex should be hand washed only, using lukewarm water and mild detergent, such as Woolite or Deft.



2. Don't wait to wash. 

When you have something that has moisture in it, you promote microbial growth,” she says. “And the longer they grow, the more odors they produce.”  leaving your wet clothes in a pile is one of the worst things you can do for your gear, and “if you keep doing it over time, the odors will be much harder to get out. 

3. Use sportswear-specific detergent.

HEX PerformanceTide. Boston-based runner Jon Salas swears by using a mixture of a quarter cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar to combat extra-tough odors. 



4. Skip the dryer, and you definitely don't need the iron.

If you deem ironing to be absolutely necessary, use the lowest temperature setting and place a pressing cloth between the garment and the iron, making sure to iron very quickly (leaving the iron too long in one position, or allowing it to rest directly on the fabric can seriously damage the fabric).


5. Don't use fabric softener

“What’s really important with workout clothing is that it has the ability to breathe, and all that technology can actually work,” Maker explains. “But fabric softeners clog all that material up, so that it’s not wicking moisture, it’s retaining odors, and it won’t perform the same.”