Why You Shouldn’t Use Fabric Softener on Workout Clothes

If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you’ve probably been told that you shouldn’t use fabric softener on your workout clothes. There are a few reasons for this. Fabric softener can trap sweat and bacteria, which can lead to skin irritation and even fungal infections. It can also make your clothes more likely to absorb and retain odors.


When it comes to laundry, you have probably been told that loading up on fabric softener can make your workout clothes smell better and be softer. But you are not getting the full story here. Using fabric softener on your workout clothes might mean more comfortable feel and a fragrant scent, but it can greatly decrease their functionality when it comes to wicking away moisture during exercise.

Workout clothes don’t just come in the form of T-shirts and hoodies — these garments have a technical aspect that needs to be preserved if you want them to do what they were made to do. The fabrics used in these clothing items are designed specifically with comfort and performance in mind,and they rely on the fact that they are being maintained properly. If you use fabric softener or other detergents containing chemicals, you could be causing serious damage to your garments over time — as well as impairing their effectiveness during exercise sessions.

In this article, we will discuss why you should reconsider using fabric softener or other commercial detergents when washing your activewear clothing items — as well as how best to clean them instead in order to maintain its high performance waiting levels over time.

Reasons Not to Use Fabric Softener on Workout Clothes

Using fabric softener on your workout clothes is a bad idea for many reasons. It can irritate your skin, reduce the quality of your clothing, and eventually lead to deterioration of your clothing. Let’s go over some of the reasons why you should avoid using fabric softener on your workout clothes.

Fabric Softener Can Damage the Fabric

Fabric softener may seem like a good way to make your workout clothes feel softer or have a pleasant scent, but it can actually damage the fabric and decrease the effectiveness of the garment. Fabric softener coats the fibers of the fabric so that it can’t absorb sweat as quickly, meaning you stay less dry and comfortable during your workout. The coating can also cause faster wear and tear on exercise garments over time, reducing their lifespan. Additionally, fabric softener is not recommended for fabrics made from polyester, which many activewear garments are made from as it can reduce breathability and decrease flexibility.

Fabric Softener Can Reduce the Clothes’ Breathability

The most important reason not to use fabric softener on your workout clothes is that it can reduce their breathability. Sweat-wicking and breathable fabrics are designed to move perspiration away from your body, helping you stay comfortable while you exercise. The chemicals in fabric softener can coat the fibers of these fabrics, blocking the holes used to promote air circulation and hindering the ability of sweat to evaporate. Over time, the buildup of chemicals can leave clothes feeling heavy and stuffy and reduce their ability to keep you cool.

Fabric Softener Can Reduce the Clothes’ Wicking Ability

Using fabric softener on workout clothes is not recommended because the chemicals in softener can reduce the wicking ability of athletic apparel. Unlike regular clothes, workout clothes are designed to keep the wearer cool, dry and comfortable during exercise by using fabrics that allow for increased air flow and moisture control.

When exposed to fabric softener, these fabrics can get clogged with a waxy residue that prevents them from absorbing sweat and dispersing it away from the skin. The waxy residue also blocks air circulation so that air is unable to move efficiently through the fibers of the fabric. This hinders its ability to regulate body temperature and make the wearer uncomfortable when exercising. Fabric conditioners can also break down other technical features of workout clothes such as breathability, moisture management, temperature regulation, fit and odor control which are designed specifically for athletes.

Alternatives to Fabric Softener

Using fabric softener on workout clothes can be a bad idea due to the coating it leaves on the fabric, reducing its breathability. If you’re looking for alternatives that can keep your clothing soft, fresh and free from static, there are some options to consider. In this article, we’ll talk about some of the best alternatives to fabric softener for your exercise clothing.

Use Detergent with Natural Enzymes

Using a detergent with natural enzymes is one of the most effective alternatives to using fabric softener on your workout clothes. Natural enzyme detergents are formulated with biodegradable cleaning agents and non-toxic solvents. These natural ingredients help break down the dirt and oil in your clothes so you don’t have to use strong chemicals or extreme amounts of water pressure to get them clean. One of the benefits of using a natural enzyme detergent is that it helps maintain your fabric’s breathability, which allows sweat evaporate quicker and prevents bacteria growth. Additionally, it also prevents staining as a result of it breaking down the dirt particles in clothing fibers faster than regular detergent can do. Natural enzyme detergents don’t leave behind any residue or unpleasant odors like chemical softeners often do, allowing your gear to keep its original texture, color, and form-fitting shape while still getting rid of the odors left behind by sweat.

Add White Vinegar to the Wash Cycle

Adding white vinegar to the wash cycle is a simple, effective way to soften clothes without using fabric softener. Just add one half-cup of white vinegar to the machine in place of fabric softener during the rinse cycle. Vinegar has natural softening and cleaning properties, making it an ideal natural alternative for fabric softener. Additionally, vinegar helps remove any soap residue that may remain on clothes after washing, which can be beneficial for workout apparel since it also prevents any chafing from occurring due to the amount of sweat that workout gear typically retains.

Choose a Detergent Specifically Designed for Athletic Wear

Many types of activewear, particularly those designed with performance or moisture-wicking fabrics, need to be washed in specialty detergents that are made specifically for synthetic fibers. These detergents contain cleansers that are gentle and will protect the delicate fabric of the workwear without depositing additional softeners that can cause problems in the protective barriers and moisture-wicking properties. Additionally, these sports detergents will help remove stubborn odors and prevent them from returning.

To select an appropriate detergent for your athletic wear, it is important to read labels carefully and consider factors such as price. If a more natural product is desired, choose a plant-based alternative such as Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent or Eco Nuts Organic Soapberry Laundry Detergent. Otherwise, other popular brands like Tide PurClean or Tide Sport will work just fine. Additionally, laundry aides containing enzymes – such as Persil ProClean Sensitive Skin or All Free Clear Odor Relief – may help in removing heavy soil buildup on athletic clothing often due to sweat.

Not only should you avoid fabric softener when laundering athletic wear clothing but also be aware of other care practices to keep these garments looking their best not only every time they’re worn but also every time they’re washed as well!


In summary, fabric softener should be avoided when washing and drying your activewear and fitness clothes. These products can remove the hydrophylic and hydrophobic components from technical fabrics, removing the breathability, wicking, water repellency and other performance benefits that are built into the material. It’s best to stick with a detergent made for athletic wear specifically. Choosing this type of product will help ensure your garments perform as intended so you can get the most out of your workouts.

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