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  1. #1
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    Washing riding clothes/gear

    Anyone wait for "laundry day" to wash their sweaty riding gear, perhaps letting that gear sit for up to 6 days before a wash? Do you use any special detergent, pre-soak, or extra rinse, or use any washer settings to cope with that? I got a HE washer that seems to struggle with such, even with "enzyme-based" detergents like Tide (Cold Water formula to go with washer's cold water cycle). Air drying gets rid of any leftover funk, but if I'm in a rush to ride I might happen to pluck smelly gloves out of the washer thinking they'll air dry while I ride (not the case). Gloves might be the exception, since I only keep 1 pair and ride with the multiple times until laundry day.

  2. #2
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    nope..as soon as I get back to the house I wash my gear...I wash it in hot water but on the gentle cycle...I use the Tide Free & Gentle (no perfumes or dyes)...and then when Im done I air dry everything..I also use a fan to speed up the process...I think the longer you let it sit..the longer bacteria has a chance to build up and smells develop...I have a number of pairs of gloves in my bag...but I usually use one pair..but I ride on tues & thurs & sun...so they are always dry by the time I go ride.
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  3. #3
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    My riding gear goes into the laundry pile, but it probably doesn't take that long for them to get into the wash.

    After swearing off synthetic fabrics for merino a few years ago, I'm back to wearing some nylon in the form of Club Ride jerseys. I really like the look, features and comfort. But this summer I have noticed them getting funkier, and doing so earlier in a ride. By late summer they'd accumulated enough that during a post-ride beer on my deck, I'd occasionally get a whiff and think "whew." That was never the case when they were new(er). I've given them a dilute vinegar bath, which may have helped a little bit.

    If anyone has a suggested sterilization method to knock back the creeping perma-funk, I'd appreciate hearing it.
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  4. #4
    Fat-tired Roadie Moderator
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    I do my laundry once a week, so if I do it early and then ride on Sunday, yeah, it might take a week for my riding clothes to make it into the wash.

    I rinse it in the shower if it's been a particularly muddy ride, though.

    About the only time I notice a really gnarly smell is if I've been racing or if I sweated a ton, threw everything in a bag, and then forgot it there for a few hours.
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  5. #5
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    Hot? Are you not afraid of shrinkage?
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  6. #6
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    Nope...its not cotton so it does not shrink...most of my stuff is a nylon..dri shirt..type stuff.
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  7. #7
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    I'm pretty good about washing my riding gear every couple of days but I haven't washed my snowboard pants in 5 years. I usually get about 20 days in per year and of course it never gets hot
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  8. #8
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    When I get back from a ride, I bring my riding clothes in the shower with me to rinse them out, then hang them to air dry. About once a week they then go into the laundry. I find that rinsing them right away like that goes a long way to keeping the perma-funk at bay, which IME is pretty much permanent once it sets in.
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  9. #9
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    They make special sport washes for athletic gear. Try some baking soda in the wash. I like to fabreeze my elbow and knee pads after wash and then let dry in the sun.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfgiantsfan View Post
    but I haven't washed my snowboard pants in 5 years. I usually get about 20 days in per year and of course it never gets hot
    I used to think that too, but that doesn't take smelly farts into the equation. On a more serious note, speaking with Goretex years back, they said that it is actually important to wash the stuff, as it helps everything to function properly. Otherwise the pores that allow vapor breathing get clogged up.

    Powder detergent is what I've seen recommended by various gear companies for washing stuff.

  11. #11
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    Bibs and jerseys turned inside out in a laundry bag tossed in with like colors. Wash on cold or warm with a mild, non-phosphate, detergent. I add a 1/4 cup of borax and 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar. The borax and vinegar will take care of any funky smells. Really, with borax and vinegar, detergent is not fully necessary. If you use chamois cream, (which everyone should: shea butter is a cheap, effective, alternative) pre-soak bibs in warm water and gently hand scrub the chamois with mild detergent (un-scented hand soap will work). Then, wash as above.

    If you don't plan on washing for a few days, hang your dirty riding clothes up to prevent further bacteria growth. No one wants crotch-rot, aka jock-itch.

  12. #12
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    I wash my synthetics within a few days after a ride, excluding my gloves. I have 4 pairs of gloves and cycle through them but they get washed about every 4 rides.

    I do notice that most of my gear will eventually get the perma-funk, as others have mentioned. The cure for this is to toss them into a bucket or the bath tub and douse them with white vinegar and maybe some baking soda. Let them sit over night and then wash as normal. This usually removes it.

  13. #13
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    Re: Washing riding clothes/gear

    Dreft detergent. It is designed to clean poop out of baby diapers. It does a good job of getting both the mud and funk out of riding gear. My riding clothes do smell a little like baby shampoo after using it, but of its much better than my skunk like stench.

  14. #14
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    My riding clothes regularly get covered with mud in addition to swweat. If I delay cleaning they stain. If I first pressure wash with cold water from the garden hose as soon as I take them off, they stay very nice, even whites.

  15. #15
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    Mine get pretty raunchy but I use a homemade detergent based on Dr Bronners castile soap. The peppermint scent is so intense that even the muskiest of compression shorts come out smelling like candy.

  16. #16
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    Wool - I try to wear wool wherever I can - very stink resistant.

    Synthetics - it all goes into the shower with me post ride. Seriously. I plug the tub and agitate the cloths with my feet. Unplug the drain, wring out the clothes and rinse. Hang on the radiator to dry.

    Dawn dish detergent is my favorite soap to wash myself (hair and all) and clothes with. No more itchy skin or scalp - none since going Dawn. No joke.

  17. #17
    Kitty! Kitty! Kitty!
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    Check out Penguin Wash for synthetics. It's supposed to remove funk (I let my stuff air dry before washing it) and help keep the wickaway properties intact. Do not use fabric softener with synthetics as it makes it less efficient. Also, for any synthetics with funk you can't get out, try a scoop of Borax in with some Penguin Wash or whatever you use to clean it.

  18. #18
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    With four kids laundry is an almost daily occurrence at our home. Try to air dry our sporting clothing, let it be mt bike or trail running gear. If it was a light ride I may hang it up and get another ride with it.

  19. #19
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    Biz and white vinegar works great. There was a post about washing riding clothes on here years ago where a fabric expert talked about what she recommended for odors - soaking in Biz was recommended and i've definitely noticed a difference from standard detergent and even the expensive specialty washes from penguin and others.

    Get the funk out!

  20. #20
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    I stockpile my bike wear and wash it once a week. Every couple of loads I'll put a tablespoon of bleach in and that's enough to kill any funk. I generally don't buy super expensive clothes though so I don't mind taking the risk of bleach. With that said, all my clothes have had a longer than expected life cycle.

  21. #21
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    Reviving this old thread to report.

    I've been adding Borax to my loads of laundry. I ditched the cardboard box and used another plastic container, using a 80 cc scoop that came with the container, adding 1 scoop to the detergent per load. I've been using some cheap powder detergent I got from Sears, Ultra Plus. I tend to be conservative with the detergent too, adding a little less than recommended. My washing machine has one of those pull-out tray style detergent loaders, which I assume floods with water at specific times in the wash cycle, and it seems to work even if I keep use liquid detergent, and add the borax under the liquid mini-tray.

    I've also been draping my just worn clothes over the sides of the hamper, so they can air out, rather than sit on top of the existing pile. Been continuing to do full loads, about a weeks worth, for a while now, throwing in my bed sheets and towels as filler. I put velcro stuff into a pillowcase to help keep it from damaging other clothes. I don't use my dryer, nor hot water.

    Noticed that if I used the extra high speed cycle on my washer, to cut down on drying time, my wool stuff develops holes. Stick to the delicate cycle.
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  22. #22
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    A reasonable revival. Laundry never goes away.

    For the really sweaty stanky stuff that just gets worse? My good buddy sweats like you've never likely seen. They killed him numerous times with radical chemo but he survived it all. Ever since, he exudes sweat in incredible amounts. INCREDIBLE. His riding gear could potentially qualify as an excellent Senior Project for a Bacteriologist at MIT or the like. He discovered somehow that by soaking the stank in a bucket full of water and water-softener salt overnight, then regular washing, will get rid of that stank that stanky people just can't get rid of even after numerous washings. He swears by it.

    Me, on the other hand, have never tried it because I don't suffer from the stank any more than a normal guy. I own a lot of kit intentionally. I could wear clean, fresh kit everyday for well over a week and not need to launder. This allows me to cycle through gear and it lasts much longer as laundering tends to be one of, if not thee, biggest killer of good tech gear. With that said, I wash my gear as soon as I get home. Especially my road gear. Rather than wasting water and doing small loads frequently since I do ride darned near everyday, I put a 2.5 gallon bucket in the wash basin in my garage, add a small shot of liquid detergent, usually Woolite 'Darks', handwash, rinse with clean water twice, throw it in the washing machine and spin dry for a few minutes, than it gets hung to dry in my garage or my bathroom. The synthetics dry fast. Back into inventory it goes. No stank. Minimal wear and tear. Easy peasy.
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  23. #23
    Hi There!
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    Laundry day in our house is Tuesday and Friday...2 loads each day. I usually can only ride on Saturday and Sunday, so I wash all my riding stuff after coming home Sunday.

    HE front load washer, Tide detergent and always cold water because I'm an Energy Efficiency Expert, certified by the state.
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  24. #24
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    i used to wait but not anymore.

    soaking stuff in the mop sink with Oxyclean before going into washer is a huge help with stank removal. and if i forget it is okay it just soaks longer v. breeding stank in a hamper pile.


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  25. #25
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    Probably obvious to most but I had to learn through experience, don't wash anything with velcro (e.g. gloves) with the rest of your stuff.

  26. #26
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    Some good info here. I stop on my way to work and trail run and then hit the shower at work. But this means my soaking wet clothes then go into a dark locker until the end of the day. Then when they get home, I have a plastic shelf unit I put them on so they can dry out, this area gets to be pretty smelly, and about once a week, my running and cycling gear gets washed.

    Now, after reading through this, I think I will go ahead and take my clothes, at least my shirt, into the shower with me. Really, it's not going to get any wetter than it already is. And I'll probably just hang it up in a locker and leave the door open, a bike commuter recommend that to me the last place I worked, pretty sure no one will steal it. And I might get a bucket and do a quick hand wash when I get home and then a clothes line to dry, if I can discipline myself to actually do this.

    And I really should wash my gloves more, amazed at how dirty the water is when I do get around to letting them soak in the sink.
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  27. #27
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    I use this sport wash and it works very, very well. It's often less expensive then $22, too. I usually buy a bottle around $18.

    https://www.amazon.com/SPORT-WASH-LA...rds=sport+wash

  28. #28
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    Sometimes nothing beats the old ways.

    Soak em in water with Borax. 5 bucks for a big box.

  29. #29
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    Wish I knew more about chemistry to know about how acid based cleaning work differently than base/akaline based cleaning.

    The acid based stuff seems to work better at breaking down mineral deposits. Vinegar can slowly eat through a number of materials, and I worry since washing machine manuals to say to not use it as it's known to damage seals and possibly break down other components like drain hoses. Makes me worry that using the vinegar soak will reduce the life of some of my clothes. Vinegar users say it works like fabric softener, and some of my gear says to avoid fabric softener.

    I know that some stronger akaline cleaners, like bleach, kill organic (living) things, like the bacteria that causes foul odor. I figure using a base that is closer to neutral is safer, like borax (similar level to baking & washing soda). It also softens water, which I suppose makes things rinse away cleaner (the trace minerals in the tap water not sticking to everything), and can result in clothes not being as stiff out of the washer.

    Still, even with limited knowledge, borax seems to a better choice. Don't even need to soak. Just add it to all loads of laundry, since there seems to be no downside and it's inexpensive. Just transfer it to another container, break up the chunks, and use a scoop, if you also find the big box to be a hassle to use.
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  30. #30
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    I am a fan of the Oxyclean for about 2 years now. Its active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide which helps with the funkiness. I usually toss them into the washer when I get home from a ride, and do a small load. If I know I am riding multiple days in a row, I may stack up a load.

    I don't like coming into the house with dirty riding clothes this time of year due to ticks and in winter the mud, so clothes usually come off in the garage.

  31. #31
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    Laundry funk is pretty easy to deal with. A good anti-bacterial/anti-fungal cleaner always wipes out the smell for me. Pine sol and Lysol both do an excellent job. I prefer Pine sol myself. Once the clothes make it through the dryer the pine scent pretty much completely evaporates.

    Costco and Home Depot both sell Pine sol in ~2gal jugs for cheap. About 1/4 to 1/2 cup is plenty. I always just pour a bit into the washer drum and never actually measure. Cost wise it ends up being a lot cheaper than the "Anti-Microbial" laundry soap.
    I too use Borax for really dirty loads of whites. TSP also does a great job as a cleaning enhancer for really cheap.

    P.S. Pine sol is also excellent when washing sports shoes in the washing machine. The shoes stay fresher for much longer.

  32. #32
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    Wash bike clothes (and gym clothes) about every four or five days. Bike shorts are always inside out going into the washer. Hot water setting, Tide HE detergent, hang up and air dry in the garage in the warmer months -- it's an inferno in there for 5 months out of the year. Air dry hanging in the bathroom if it's cool/rainy.

    No problems related to The Stank or durability over many years.
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  33. #33
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    I use vinegar to wash leather gloves and the pads on my helmet, after dry they smell like new and clean, they don't smell vinegar at all, and most importantly they don't smell like bio-hazard toxic waste.

    For the rest, sometimes I enter the shower with clothes on and give them a pre-wash, at the most they wait two days before the wash.

  34. #34
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    I wash my bike clothes separate from work and casual weekend clothes. Delicate cycle on warm and I'll air dry shorts with chamois. Jerseys, socks, etc... I dry on low heat.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aglo View Post
    I use vinegar to wash leather gloves and the pads on my helmet, after dry they smell like new and clean, they don't smell vinegar at all, and most importantly they don't smell like bio-hazard toxic waste.

    For the rest, sometimes I enter the shower with clothes on and give them a pre-wash, at the most they wait two days before the wash.
    Leather is supposed to be washed in an acid instead of a base like most clothes. Something to do with the leather curing process. I use lemon juice. I have always worried about using vinegar on leather and walking around smelling like a pickle. :-) I have a heavy leather motorcycle jacket I picked up at the thrift store that I use in the shop when I am welding. I have washed it many times in lemon juice and spray it down with lexol leather conditioner after it air dries.

  36. #36
    Don't worry, be happy!
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    repost from 2006
    my special stinky bike gear recipe:
    Soak in "Biz" overnight, at least 12 hours. this is an enzyme
    based presoak that goes after organic matter, not your regular presoak.
    Then, rinse that out and then run through the wash with a laundry product
    called Oxyclean, which is not an detergent it's an additive. You should be
    able to get that at any supermarket.

    You might want to switch laundry detergents. Tide is super powerful/caustic and can hasten fiber disintegration on some clothing.
    Products like Sport Wash are expensive repackaging of mild detergent with oxyclean like conditioners.

    Tip on velcro. Get a laundry bag and put all the glove in it. You won't lose them to getting lost up in a sleeve somewhere.

    Woolite 'Darks',
    Use baby shampoo. More mild and lots cheaper.


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