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How to care for your young athlete’s sports clothes

Football, gymnastics, tennis, dance, badminton, karate… the world of sports offers endless benefits for youth of all ages. Whether it’s teamwork or leadership skills, determination or coordination, the practice of sports gives young people an array of tools that will serve them their entire lives. However, as every parent knows, sports can take their toll on clothing. To keep those jerseys and leotards looking (and smelling) good, a little extra attention is required.

When washing your child’s sports clothes, keep in mind the following suggestions:

Sweat is nothing to fear—it’s a sign that your young athlete has been working hard!—but if left to sit too long, sweat can cause stains that are tough to remove. So make sure that those sweaty clothes are moved from the gym bag to the washing machine the same day if possible. If any sweat stains do form, try pre-treating the garment before machine washing it. Make a mixture of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and half a cup of water. Soak the stained area for about 30 minutes, then machine wash.


Start with the stains. For rough-and-tumble stains like grass, mud, and the occasional bit of blood, pre-treat them either with a ready-made stain removal product or a simple solution you can make yourself from household ingredients like white vinegar, baking soda, and water:

  • For grass or mud stains, try mixing together one part vinegar to two parts water. Apply gently to the stains, ensuring that they are fully soaked in the mixture. Allow to sit for 1-2 hours, then machine wash. For especially heavy stains, try using undiluted white vinegar.
  • For blood stains, soak the garment in very cold water as soon as possible. After 20 minutes, gently rub the stained area between your fingers to see whether the stain fades. If it does, continue soaking for another 5-10 minutes, then machine wash. For more stubborn blood stains, try soaking the stain in undiluted white vinegar for 10 minutes. Avoid using bleach or hydrogen peroxide on the stain unless the fabric is white, and even then, be sure to exercise caution so as to prevent any unwanted discoloration.


Mind the heat. Stretchy materials like elastane or nylon can be sensitive to high temperatures, so make sure that your wash cycle isn’t too hot. Also bear in mind that certain stains can be far more difficult to remove after having been exposed to heat. For both of these reasons, skip the dryer altogether and let your sportswear dry in the fresh air.

Choose the right laundry detergent. Most sports clothes can be washed with any all-purpose detergent. However, you may want to choose a dedicated sports detergent, which often includes an anti-bacterial additive for an extra dose of odor-fighting action.

Softener is optional. The moisture-absorbing properties of some kinds of sportswear may be hindered by fabric softener. If softness is a must for you, check the label of your garment first.

And when washing your young athlete’s sports clothes,

always refer to the care instructions on the label!


For more tips on how to care for your favorite clothes, visit our special fabrics section.

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