With team sports back up and running, the kids are looking to excel in their activewear. Luckily, your favourite sports outfitters are stocked with all the latest kit to set them up for victory on the field, including some exercise garments so fashion-forward you’ll want a matching set for yourself. Since we’re all about maximising the longevity and freshness of a new purchase, here are five quick tips for making sure their gear goes the distance.
1. Wash now, not later
Soaking or sticking grubby kit in the washing machine as soon as you get home from a game is the safest way to stop nasty bacteria and odours from baking into the fabric. As tempting as it might be to wait for a full machine load to build up, you’ll find that a week of sitting in the laundry basket will only encourage stubborn sweat stains and ultimately limit the life span of that new performance tee, tank or long-sleeve top. Did you know that mould and mildew can grow after just six hours? If yours is a family of exercise junkies, your best option is to treat sports clothes as you would delicates and wash them separately from things like abrasive denim jeans and lint-shedding towels.
2. Double-check the care label
For the best results, turn garments inside out to wash them and use a sportswear-specific detergent (adding a couple of drops of bacteria-fighting eucalyptus oil to the rinse should do the trick too). For stretchy items like leggings or bike shorts you’ll probably find the care instructions suggest using a gentle cycle only because hot water can shrink or warp the material as well as cook off any hi-tech coatings. Steer clear of softener when it comes to synthetic performance fabrics too, since the residue it leaves behind can hinder the moisture-wicking capabilities of the garment and break down its elastic fibres.
3. Air-dry for the win
A bit of sunshine can be highly effective at eliminating odour-causing bacteria from clothes that regularly see an excess of sweat, dirt and natural oils, but the main reason to dry freshly cleaned sporting apparel au naturale is to prevent shrinkage. If you absolutely must use the dryer, use the lowest heat setting. Crops and singlets will maintain their shape longer that way.
4. Keep an eye on the kit bag
Any aspiring athlete worth their salt needs to remember to disinfect their kit bag on a regular basis. After all, who wants to stick their half-time snacks into a germ-filled sack every week? Canvas bags can simply have a run through the machine on a cool wash, while it’s better to clean mixed-fabric ones with a cloth soaked in a mixture of soap, warm water and white vinegar. A neat trick for keeping the dirty soles of sneakers away from clothes is to wrap them in a couple of shower caps.
5. Maintain that box-fresh feeling
How best to keep sneakers looking and smelling brand new is a question for the ages, but we have a couple of tried-and-tested methods worth your consideration. One is to use an old toothbrush dipped in laundry soap or a paste containing baking soda to scrub away marks and grime. Another is to stuff a teabag, or balled-up tumble dryer sheet, inside the sneaker to absorb moisture and smelliness. A squirt of deodoriser to the insole after each workout (whether branded or your own peppermint oil/eucalyptus/water concoction) and time to dry in a well-ventilated area goes a long way too.
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