How one can preserve athletic uniforms: wash inside out, line dry, and take away when all else fails | hobbies

IIt’s been a while since I’ve left a netball court, but all that reminds me of the ankle braces, the umpire’s whistles and someone behind me yelling “here if you need” is the sight of a lycra Dress with integrated bloomers.

In the years that I played a lot of netball (I was a goal attacker), my uniform was treated terribly. It was shoved into my bag along with running shoes and sweaty socks, usually under a ball and alongside rolls of duct tape. It often stayed there until the next week when it was pulled out and dressed (ready for another middle pass).

Luckily, performance fabrics are designed to dry quickly and generally withstand some abuse. But my netball uniform would have looked better if I hadn’t been so tough with it.

Wash it quickly

Because sweat and dirt can damage the fibers of athletic apparel, says Ryan Tesoriero, co-founder of Valor Sports, “The ideal way to care for athletic apparel is to wash it shortly after activity.”

If you’ve played on a rainy day or had a fall and your uniform is particularly dirty, this is even more important. Tesoriero suggests soaking your garments in a bucket of water before putting them in the machine, and spot removing particularly stubborn stains. Standard stain removers and home remedies like white vinegar both work on grass stains.

But if you exercise every day, washing right after is not always possible. When it’s not laundry day, Nimble Activewear’s Vera Yan and Katia Santilli suggest airing your used gym clothes for a few hours instead of throwing them straight into the laundry basket.

Use a cool, gentle cycle

Because most athletic uniforms are made from synthetic materials, too much heat can erode the fibers. Yan and Santilli recommend “machine washing your sportswear in cold water (30 degrees) on the gentle cycle, as hot water and too much exercise…can shorten their lifespan”.

They say it’s best to avoid tumble drying for the same reason, as “the high heat of the dryer can reduce the fabric’s elasticity and moisture-wicking properties.”

Instead, hang your gear on a line to dry. “Put it on a clothesline in the shade so the sun doesn’t bleach the colors,” says Tesoriero.

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Flip everything

Because many athletic uniforms have abrasive elements such as Velcro or zippers, it’s important to take steps to prevent them from snagging or snagging on laundry, which can also damage your other clothing. For something like a netball uniform, Tesoriero recommends using a garment bag or “turning the garment inside out to ensure heat seals, embroidery, or zippers don’t rub against other fabric and cause fabric separation.”

According to Yan and Santilli, washing inside out has the added benefit of keeping the clothes properly cleaned and smelling better. “Bacteria, dead skin cells and sweat rub off on the inside of your sportswear, so this needs to be a priority when washing.”

white keep white

Stripping the laundry—soaking it overnight in a mixture of borax, washing soda, and washing powder—can restore white uniforms to their former glory. Photo: OntheRunPhoto/Getty Images/iStockphoto

When washing white garments such as cricket and tennis uniforms, it is important that they only share the machine with white or light-colored garments.

If your whites are turning grey, Tesoriero recommends using a “laundry strip” that will give them a thorough cleaning. Do this “by soaking them in a strong mixture of borax, washing soda, and washing powder for several hours or overnight.”

“After washing, hang to dry in the sunlight.”

Reduction of microfibers

An unfortunate side effect of performance clothing made from synthetic materials like lycra, polyester and nylon is that they shed plastic microfibers into waterways with every wash. To minimize this, Tesoriero suggests hand washing “since there’s less chance of damaging the fabrics.”

Placing garments in a Guppyfriend laundry bag, which “captures the microfibers throughout the wash cycle,” is also an effective way to minimize microfiber shedding.

But be careful how you dispose of the fibers it catches. It might be tempting to rinse the pouch under the tap, which of course would totally defeat the purpose. Instead, place the fibers in the trash can, ideally in a sealed container so they don’t get blown away.

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