Game On: Expert Tips for Maintaining Your Athletic Gear

American football players in helmets and pads practicing defensive drills on a sunny field, with a focus on a player in a stance ready for the play.

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If you’re an athlete, you understand the importance of being prepared for any eventuality. Whether you participate in long-distance running or softball, the world of sports is unpredictable. You need your gear to keep up with you, protect you from the elements, and stay resilient for the long term. To ensure your athletic gear stays up to the challenge, it’s important to take care of it, day in and day out.

Cleaning and caring for your athletic gear can be challenging since uniforms, shoes, and protective equipment have unique care requirements. Our comprehensive guide covers the importance of understanding and caring for your athletic gear, as well as tips for daily maintenance and how to store your gear in the off-season. With our expert tips, you’ll be prepared to stay in the game.

Understanding Your Athletic Gear

Athletic gear is often made from special materials, including moisture-wicking fabrics, synthetics, leather, and foam. It’s not uncommon for some clothing pieces to have foam or pads built into the fabric, providing additional levels of protection during sporting events or exercise. While these materials serve to make your gear last longer and perform at higher levels, it can make them a challenge to clean. Many of the materials in athletic gear aren’t washer or dryer safe, which could dissuade you from cleaning them regularly.

However, it’s important to clean athletic wear after each use. Not only does this prevent odors from getting trapped in the synthetic fibers and causing embarrassing smells to form, but it ensures your gear will continue to perform as needed and last for months to come. There are serious implications for not taking care of your gear. Improper care and lack of regular cleaning can cause stretching, fading, and other damage. 

Daily Care and Maintenance

Nothing is more motivational than a fresh, clean set of workout clothes. After a good workout session, however, you usually want to change out of them as quickly as possible. After removing your athletic gear, don’t immediately toss them aside. Practicing some post-use care before washing can go a long way in helping your gear stay in good shape for the long haul. Always air out your gear after removal, brushing off any obvious dirt or debris. Check for any damage at this point, including rips or tears. Tears might not be immediately apparent in fabric such as mesh, so carefully examine your gear, especially if you were involved in high-intensity sports or exercise. If you do find damage or tears, have them fixed right away. Wearing damaged gear will only serve to make the tear or rip larger.

Let your gear air out by hanging it over a chair or on a hanger. Even if you were doing a low-intensity workout, your gear likely has some sweat or condensation trapped in it. Letting it air out will keep mold or mildew from forming. The exception to this rule is if you notice any stains on your gear. You must treat stains right away so they don’t have a chance to set in.

To treat stains on athletic gear, gently blot or rub away at the obvious stain, removing any stuck-on food or dirt. Apply a stain-removing treatment to the stain, and allow it to sit for a while before washing it. Always follow the care instructions on a stain treatment product, especially if your gear is made from delicate fabric.

Washing and Drying Athletic Clothing

Washing and drying athletic clothing requires a few special considerations. You can either hand-wash or machine-wash your garments, based on the clothing care instructions and your schedule. Here are instructions for both methods:

  • Machine wash. To machine wash athletic clothing, sort by color and fabric type. If you haven’t pre-treated stains, do so now. Turn the clothing inside out, to protect any logos. If you use mesh bags for delicate clothing, place items inside the mesh bags. Use cold water, unless otherwise specified on your clothing’s care tags. Cold water helps safeguard against shrinking and color fading. Use a small amount of laundry detergent and avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, as they can damage delicate athletic wear. Run a wash cycle, removing the athletic wear after the cycle has been completed. Lay it flat to dry. If possible, avoid using the dryer, since a dryer can damage your athletic wear and even decrease its performance properties.
  • Hand wash. If you don’t feel comfortable machine-washing your athletic gear or if the care tags specify, you can hand-wash it. To do this, fill a sink with cold water and add a small amount of laundry detergent. Turn your gear inside out and place it in the cold water. Rub it gently, taking care not to scrub or wring the fabric. When it is clean, rinse under cold water and squeeze out any excess moisture. Lay flat to dry.

It does take longer to hand wash garments than it does to run a washer cycle. However, if you have only a few pieces of athletic gear or if your gear is especially fragile, it might be well worth the time investment.

Special Care for Shoes and Footwear

Don’t neglect your athletic shoes when caring for and cleaning your athletic gear. The sweat from your feet can cause bacteria to build up in your athletic shoes and sneakers, causing odors over time if they aren’t properly cleaned. You can wash your shoes along with the rest of your athletic gear, either in the washer or by hand-washing them. While you don’t need to wash your shoes every time you wash your clothes, it’s a good idea to wash them weekly, especially if you work out every day. For athletic shoes that are torn, consider bringing them to a convenient OXXO location for expert repair. 

If you wash sneakers in the washer, put them in a bag to help them keep their shape and tie the laces so they don’t get tangled or damaged. If your shoes have stains or large dirt spots, scrub them away gently with a toothbrush or small cleaning sponge before washing them. You should also consider replacing your athletic shoes 300 to 500 miles or about every six to eight months. If you’re a dedicated runner, you might need to replace them every three months or so.

Caring for Protective Gear

Protective gear, such as helmets, knee padding, and mouthguards, is used in high-impact sports such as football or soccer. If you regularly wear protective equipment, you’ll need to clean and care for it just as you do shoes and clothing. Because protective gear is often made of foam and other non-machine-safe materials, it’s best to hand-wash these items, unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer.

Remove any dirt or debris that accumulates on your protective gear by brushing it away with a soft towel. If a stain remains, gently blot it with a sponge or hand towel that has been moistened with warm water. Store protective gear in a high, safe area, and always ensure that it is dry before placing it in a storage box or bin. With proper care, most protective gear will last anywhere from a few months to several years. However, if you regularly play high-impact sports, you might need to replace your protective gear once every three months or so.

Professional Cleaning Services

If you have a busy schedule and can’t take the time out to regularly clean your athletic gear, or if you want to ensure your gear gets the best possible care at all times, professional dry cleaning services are an excellent option. Dry cleaning companies like OXXO Cleaners that Care use the best quality cleaners to tackle and remove tough stains and eliminate set-in odors, so you can be confident you’ll look and feel your best. We can help restore heavily used equipment and athletic gear, saving you time and money in the long run.

Storing Athletic Gear in the Off-Season

When you aren’t planning on wearing a piece of athletic gear for a while or if it’s the off-season for your sport of choice, consider storing your gear. Storing athletic clothing in a cool, dry place helps keep gear from getting damaged, ensuring that when you reach for them again, your beloved clothes will be clean and ready to go. Always store clothing when it’s dry and make sure there’s no way for moisture to seep into the box or bag.

OXXO Cleaners That Care Keeps Your Athletic Gear in Top Condition

By taking care of your athletic clothing, including treating stains promptly, washing it according to care instructions, and storing it properly, you’ll be helping your investment go further. Incorporate these tips into your routine and discover improved gear performance and longevity, even as you revel in the joy of clean, fresh-smelling clothing. If you’re on the lookout for laundry services near you and want your athletic gear to have the best possible care, OXXO Cleaners That Care is here for you. We proudly provide top-of-the-line dry cleaning services and can restore your athletic gear to like-new condition all while saving you time and money.

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