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Should You Wash Workout Clothes After Every Single Use?

For most of us, working out is a chore. And so is laundry. Watching a pile of sports bras, leggings, sweat-wicking tops and running shorts pile up can make it seem really appealing to just pick up a bra and give it a quick sniff test to see if you can make yesterday’s yoga gear go another round through today’s spin class. But just smelling whether your workout clothes are gross isn’t enough to pass germ inspection. So how necessary is it really to wash your workout clothes after use?

Fresh out of the shower, your body has healthy bacteria, fungi and other germs living on it. But a moist environment, like the sweat ring that forms between your sports bra and your rib cage is a perfect breeding ground for unhealthy germs, the kind that can cause rashes like folliculitis. And your yoga pants? The darkness combined with the moistness means that germs have perfect crevices for yeast infections and other bacteria.

Gyms are generally germy spots where you can pick up all sorts of nasty infections from staph to MRSA through sharing sweaty equipment and microscopic cuts and scrapes in your skin. Add dirty clothes to the mix, and you’re almost asking for trouble. If you have skin problems like really dry skin or eczema, the problems can be exacerbated.

There are some caveats to the rule though. Some fabrics trap germs more than others, such as polyester and spandex, while natural fabrics, like cotton, tend to dry out faster and collect fewer germs.

Some of it also depends on you. If you sweat a lot or do intense workouts on a daily basis, then you should definitely be washing your clothes after each use, especially if they are tight-fitting. But if you’re taking it easy, then you can probably wear your workout gear more than just once.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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