Don't make the mistake of ruining your exspensive leggings by washing them too often, or not enough! Luckily, our friends at Self have some tips on keeping them just as new.
You love to wear your leggings everywhere — to the gym, to the grocery store, to brunch – and don't worry, you're not alone: in 2014 sales for athletic pants equaled denim sales for the first time ever. If you're devoted to the athleisure lifestyle, it's important to make sure you're caring for your $90 Lululemons the right way. Stop sabotaging your favorite joggers; here are six common care mistakes that are causing them to wear out.
1. You're using warm water.
You've probably heard that using cold water won't really clean your clothes, but that's a myth. When it comes to workout pants, which are typically made with elastane — a synthetic fiber that gives the stretchy, comfy feeling we all love — washing in heat is actually a no-go.
Elastane is extremely sensitive and can be damaged by high temps. Finding a detergent that allows you to wash your workout gear in cooler water will maintain the fiber integrity and keep the elasticity of your leggings intact. Not to mention it will keep colors vibrant and fresh longer.
2. You're using the dryer.
Elastane fiber does not mix well with the heat of the dryer. It's sensitivity to high temps can damage the stretch factor and result in yoga pants that no longer keep everything locked in place. For best care practices, let your leggings air dry naturally. However if you simply must use the machine, experts suggest tumble dry on low.
3. You're using regular bleach.
Bleach can be a lifesaver when you've spilled red wine on your favorite cotton dress, but for garments with synthetic fibers like elastane, polyester and nylon (aka the primary fibers in your fave leggings) traditional chlorine bleach is the enemy. Care for your white or nude leggings like you would care for your teeth, says Mary Johnson, P&G Fabric Care fiber scientist. Use a cleaning product that acts like floss and gets down in between clothing fibers to remove dirt and soils. She suggests reaching for oxygenated bleach, which is safe for all colors and will breakdown body soils and odor on a fiber level while still maintaining the benefits of regular bleach.
4. You're not using fabric softener.
You probably thought fabric softener was optional; in fact, it's an absolute necessity. You wouldn't skimp on conditioner for your hair after a good wash, so why would you forego the conditioner of laundry? A good fabric softener is just like a hair treatment and will keep your yoga pant fibers smooth, combed and realigned, thus reducing pilling and dreaded fuzz. For looser garments, a fabric conditioner can also prevent static cling as well.
5. You're not washing your bottoms ASAP.
On any given day, we produce one liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease and sebum and 10 grams of skin cells and flakes — and that's without a workout built in. All of those body soils get can get mixed together and embedded in your clothes. In fact, 70 percent of laundry soils are invisible, says Johnson. And all those invisible soils can lead to the deterioration and degradation of your leggings.
"Dirt can destroy clothes," explains Elaine Cella, P&G Fabric Care fiber scientist. "If you think about sebum, it's sticky. It attracts dirt over time." And it only gets worse the longer you wait to wash your dirty clothes, she says. She suggests approaching your dirty workout clothes as you would a stain. Just as if you treat a stain immediately, you're more likely to remove the unwanted mark; if you wash a soiled garment ASAP, you're more likely to remove dirt and bacteria and keep your clothes from attracting more damaging soils.
Bottom line: Letting your used workout clothes sit in the hamper for days and days is actually harmful to the fabric.
6. You're wearing your pants too often between washes.
Guilty of recycling a pair of leggings you know aren't exactly, um, fresh? That second (or third) wear may be damaging your leggings more than you know.
"The longer you wear something, the more you sweat without even realizing it," says Cella. Even normal, everyday wear can leave body soil on the garment, which can actually eat away at the fibers, explains Cella. Think twice before wearing a pair of leggings over and over before washing, assuming they're still clean enough.
— Caitlin Miller
Check out more great stories from Self:
- These Incredible Smart Leggings Have the Most Useful Pocket Ever
- This Incredibly Cool Yoga Mat Rolls Itself Up When You're Done Using It
- Definitive Proof That These Are the Hottest Pair of Workout Leggings