What we wear while we are running/walking/exercising directly impacts how we feel during our performance. Whether we are running a 5k, taking an exercise class or walking around the block, your gear matters. Technical running clothing is made up of high-performance materials that do not contain cotton, and help to wick away moisture all while keeping us cool and dry.
Technical fabrics are great performers, but need special TLC when it comes to washing and care. Technical clothing captures bacteria and holds it in the fibers, which can cause your clothing to hold onto odors. Uh huh... you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. High-quality technical clothing will be treated to prevent the buildup of odors, but the treatment wears away over time. Improper handling and laundering can exacerbate the deterioration of the treatment and therefore the proper care of technical fabric is critical.
Read the care instructions. This seems simple enough, but it can give you some good insight on what the best care instructions are for your garments. When washing your running gear, make sure to separate light colored clothes from dark colored clothes. Make sure to wash your technical clothing in cold water. Heat can compromise the integrity of the fabrics causing them to not work as efficiently.
When washing your gear, use the gentle cycle on your washing machine, or better yet, hand wash it. The rough bouncing ofthe regular cycles in washing machines can harm the fabrics in technical wear, so when it comes to washing the gentler the better.
Allow your technical clothing, including socks, to air dry or hang dry. Try to avoid putting your running clothes in the dryer, or if you do, use a tumble dry setting on a low heat. Putting them in the dryer will reduce the effectiveness of the moisture-wicking technology and compromise the fibers of your gear. Air drying will preserve the integrity of the stretch in tights and sports bras, which will help to reduce the wear and tear on finer fabrics. By limiting the thrashing of your clothing in the dryer, this will allow the materials to perform and last longer.
Wash technical fabrics with a technical wear detergent. Regular laundry detergent is okay to use, but contains a higher percentage of surfactants. Surfactants are what causes soap to be “sudsy”, which can leave a residue and clog the pores in the fabric. Once the pores become clogged, then the garments begin to lose their breathability. Powdered detergent and pure sports soaps won’t impede with the function and feel of technical fabrics.
Do not use bleach. This also includes fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and products like Woolite. Most technical garments are already treated with a chemical that facilitates wicking, provide UV protection, and combats odor. This coating will eventually wear away, but fabric softeners and bleach can speed this process and compromise the fibers in technical fabric.