If you’re like me, you probably spend way too much on leggings, over $100 a pair to be exact. You also probably wear your leggings everywhere and on any occasion, so they’re an investment in your wardrobe and lifestyle.
If you’re devoted to the athleisure lifestyle, it’s important to make sure you are taking care of your $100+ leggings the right way. Activewear is made to be durable, but that doesn’t mean you should continue sabotaging your favorite tights unintentionally.
Here are some common care mistakes that we unknowingly make that can destroy our expensive leggings and activewear.
1. Machine Washing in Hot Water
Activewear is typically made with elastane, a synthetic fiber that makes our favorite spandex pieces stretchy and comfortable. Washing elastane in heat is a big no-no. Avoid hot to warm water at all costs when cleaning your spandex.
Elastane is extremely sensitive and can be damaged by high temperatures. Use a detergent that allows you to wash your workout gear in cold water to maintain the fiber integrity and keep the elasticity of your leggings long-lasting.
Washing on cold will also keep fabric colors vibrant and looking new much longer. I use Tide Pods Sport + Febreeze, which also works well with non-elastane fabrics.
If all else fails, you can also opt to dry clean your leggings. Dry cleaning your favorite activewear will cost money but it will also prolong their life.
2. Drying Your Activewear in the Dryer
Elastane fibers do not mix well with the heat from our dryers. High temperatures can damage the elasticity and cause your leggings to sag and lose its retention, cue leggings that sag down your bum.
I highly recommend drying your leggings on a foldable drying rack after you hand or machine wash them.
If you need your leggings to dry in a pinch, you can also tumble dry your activewear on low. Make sure to only dry a few pieces at a time, or else they will take forever to dry and that means more exposure to heat.
3. Using Harsh Bleach to Clean Your Activewear
Bleach is perfect for when you need to remove spaghetti stains from your favorite cotton t-shirt. However, synthetic garments should steer clear of traditional chlorine bleach (think those big jugs of Clorox). Chlorine bleach can destroy the elasticity in elastane fabrics, causing them to oxidize and stretch out, stiffen or slowly disintegrate over time.
It’s best to use oxygenated bleach, which is safe for all colors and will breakdown body soils and odor on a fiber level while still maintaining the benefits of regular bleach. Think of oxygen bleach like a solution that flosses through your fibers to get out deep stains. We recommend Oxi Clean to remove tough stains from your leggings.
4. Washing Your Activewear with Different Fabrics
It’s tempting to want to wash all your dirty laundry in one load. That can cause problems when your sensitive spandex twists into and brushes up against rough denim surfaces. The twisting and wringing can stretch out and ruin your spandex fibers.
Make a habit of keeping your fabrics separated in a double hamper so that you never accidentally wash different fabrics together. Spandex fabrics can be washed together, including whites and colors IF the fabric doesn’t bleed. I’ve had lots of luck washing my active whites, darks and colors on a cold wash.
5. Sitting On or Coming in Contact with Rough Surfaces
You can unknowingly destroy the fabric of your leggings by sitting on rough surfaces or coming into contact with objects that may pull at your fabric, such as velcro. I’ve sat on rough brick and unfinished wood surfaces which have destroyed my leggings and even gave me splinters. Fabric may pill, or worse, tear when they come into contact with unforgiving textures.
I recommend bringing a towel just in case you need to sit on a rough surface or avoiding them altogether and just standing for the duration of the event.
6. Wearing Your Leggings Too Often In Between Washes
The motto “live in your leggings” is not always a good thing. If you’ve been wearing the same pair of leggings for 5 days straight, you may be damaging your leggings more than you know.
Every day you wear leggings (or any article of clothing for that matter), you leave bodily oils and secretions on your clothing. You may not see it but bacteria exists and can grow on your clothing.
Thesesoils and bacteria can eat away at your garment. Rule of thumb is to wash your leggings after a maximum of 3 wears.
7. Not Washing Your Leggings Often
On any given day, our bodies produce one liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease and sebum and 10 grams of skin cells and flakes–and that’s without having to workout! Most of that winds up on your clothes and sheets.
Each eight-pound load of laundry contains 53 grams of grime about the size of a candy bar. How’s that for putting it all in perspective?
All of those body soils get can get mixed together and embedded in your clothes, furniture, bedding, car seat, etc. In fact, according to Tide & Downy principal scientist Mary Johnson, 70 percent of laundry soils are invisible. And all those invisible soils can lead to the deterioration of not only your leggings, but everything you come in touch with.
The longer you wait to wash your dirty clothes, the worse it is for your clothing. Wash your clothing regularly and try not to leave activewear in the hamper for more than 3 days. If you wash a soiled garment as soon as possible, you’ll remove dirt and bacteria and keep your clothes from further damaging.
Letting your used workout clothes sit in the hamper for days is harmful to spandex fabrics. If you’re going on a trip, make sure you do your laundry beforehand.
We hope this list helped your better understand how to care for your leggings and activewear. They’re very sensitive and require additional care to last longer, but it’s much better than having to replace another pair of $100 leggings if they are destroyed too soon.
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