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  • Compression Athlete

Best Care Practices for Your Compression Gear

Want to extend the lifespan of your favorite compression gear? Good care practices can keep it in peak condition for longer.

3 smiling athletes in compression gear.

Every so often you come across a piece of compression gear that you absolutely love—one that even stands out among your usual favorites. It feels great on, allows you to perform at your best, and looks ridiculously cool.


The piece starts popping up more frequently in your rotation. You buy it in every available color. Even buy duplicates for good measure.


When you find great compression pieces like this, giving it a little extra care can go a long way in preserving its condition and overall lifespan.


We’ve compiled some useful tips here to help your compression gear stay in better shape for longer. Whether for your compression shorts, tights, shirt, sleeve, and beyond, learn from these best care practices to get the most out of your gear.



Useful Tips for Compression Gear Care


When you’re active and competing in compression gear, there’s no doubt that it can endure quite a lot. It sticks with you through anything that’s thrown your way. But at the end of the game when you peel those skin-tight layers off, you’ll want to begin treating your compression gear with a gentle touch.


Sweaty athlete working out in compression wear.

Best care practices differ slightly among brands and fabric blends, so you’ll always want to check the tag of your garment first. However, there are a few general care tips that apply to most any compression garment. Here are 3 tips you can use to keep your compression gear in great shape.



Tip 1: Wash Regularly


A common misconception with compression gear is that the more you wash it the quicker it will wear out. While this may be true of other fabric types, regularly washing your compression wear will actually help to maintain its signature stretch and compressive qualities.


As a base layer your compression gear can take quite a beating. Think of all the sweat, oil, bacteria, dirt, etc. that it sees. All of these things wear away at the stretchy fibers (spandex, lycra, elastane, etc.) of your compression.


Sweaty athlete in compression wear resting.

Regularly washing after wear, however, will remove the harmful elements and restore the elastic properties. And when you wash your compression gear, be sure to mind the washing instructions on the tag of each of your garments.



Tip 2: Treat Gently


Your compression gear has gotten you through many a tough workout. Its snug, stretchy fabric holds up to movement, sweat, and all the rest, better than any other clothing alternative. But once the game is over, you’re going to want to show your compression some love and care.


The spandex and elastane in your compression fabric will wear out quicker if exposed to harsh elements. For example, when washing your activewear, skip the harsh chemicals like bleach and fabric softener. When drying, avoid high heat settings or exposure to direct sunlight. Additionally, tend to any pills that form in the fabric early on before they get out of control.



Tip 3: Store Properly


Even if you’re exhausted after a workout, you’ll want to muster up a little extra effort tending to your sweat-soaked and spent compression wear. Rather than leaving them in a gym bag crumpled up and prime for bacteria, find a place for your compression pieces to air out while they wait for the next available washing.


Once your compression pieces are done washing, be sure to remove them immediately. Again, this is important so that your compression wear does not remain wet and crumpled up in the wash. It’s important that you do not allow a compression piece to lay on itself when wet.



How to Wash Your Compression Gear


When it comes to washing your compression gear, it’s generally best to do so after every wear. This is especially important when worn during sweat-inducing activity, as the fabric will absorb much of this sweat.


That being said, if you aren’t wearing the compression for strenuous activity you can probably get by fine with slightly reducing your washing frequency.


Athlete in compression wear washes with water.

It’s important to remember that washing your compression wear will not cause it to wear out faster. Anytime you are able to wash your compression after activity to remove all the accumulated sweat, oil, bacteria, dirt, and more, is a good thing for your activewear. And when you’re ready to go, follow these rules when washing compression wear:


Choose A Mild Detergent


When washing compression wear, go with a mild detergent. Anything too harsh and the detergent can destroy the fine fibers of compression. Also, be sure to avoid bleach and other laundry additives that can do damage.


Avoid Using Fabric Softener


While we’re at it, be sure to avoid using any fabric softener when washing compression wear. Fabric softener can leave a film on the fabric that seals in sweat and odor. When this happens the pieces become difficult to clean effectively. It also diminishes the garment’s ability to wick sweat away from your body. Also, beware that fabric softener can lift and wear away logos on compression fabric.


Turn Your Activewear Inside Out


Before you pop your gear in the wash, turn it inside out to get the best clean. Besides helping to preserve colors and logos, flipping your garment inside out exposes the part that’s taken the brunt of your workout to a thorough cleaning. Removing all the sweat, dead skin cells, etc. from the compression’s fibers will keep it feeling fresh and in peak condition for longer.


Wash With Cold Water


Always wash your compression wear with cold water. Be sure to set your washing machine to a gentle cycle that uses cold water. Hot water and heavy washing cycles can damage the fine spandex and elastane fibers of your compression gear.



Compression Wear: Washing Machine vs. Hand Washing


If you’re wondering whether it’s better to machine-wash or hand-wash your compression gear, there are a few things to consider. In general, both options are fine. Hand-washing is typically a gentler option when compared to that of machine-washing, though can take some more time and effort on your part.


If you don’t have a personal preference, it’s best to defer to your garment’s washing instructions.


If you’re opting to wash by hand, use cold water to rinse and wash your compression gear. Gently squeeze excess water from the garment. Do not overdo it by stretching or wringing the garment. Gently roll or press the garment with a dry towel to absorb any remaining excess water before lying out to dry.


If you’re opting to use your washing machine, be sure to choose a gentle cycle that uses cold water. Consider placing your compression garments in a mesh laundry bag for additional protection. Once the wash cycle is complete, remove your garments right away for drying.



How to Dry Your Compression Wear


How you go about drying your compression wear once washed is the next key aspect in taking good care of your gear. Even just a little bit of damage to compression can compromise the integrity of the whole garment.


Exposing it to high heat in your dryer can zap the elastic qualities of your compression. With this in mind, when drying your compression wear you’ll want to choose either an air-dry or machine-dry on low.


Air-Drying Compression Wear


If you have the option of choosing between air-drying and machine-drying your compression wear, the better choice is air-drying. This option is gentlest on the fibers. When air-drying your compression try laying them out flat to dry, as hanging can sometimes cause stretching to occur. Additionally, choose a spot for drying that avoids any harsh sunlight or heat.


Machine-Drying Compression Wear


If you’re opting to machine-dry your compression wear, be sure to avoid any potential of excessive heat exposure, as this can be very harmful to the elasticity of the compression fibers. Set your machine to the gentlest and lowest available heat setting and do not leave your pieces in for any longer than necessary.



How to Extend the Lifespan of Your Compression Gear


Just like with any other clothing garment, your compression gear has a given lifespan. At a certain point when the compression fibers wear and break down, the garment will loose its effectiveness and no longer provide their signature compressive benefits.


This process happens with wear, regardless. So, generally the more you wear a compression piece, the quicker it will wear out.


3 athletes walking in compression wear.

That being said, there are a number of ways you can prolong your compression wear’s lifespan. Here are some important steps you can take with your favorite compression gear, so that it lasts longer and you don’t break the bank on replacements.


  • Wash all of your activewear together and keep them separate from your other clothes. All of your compression pieces should be washed using cold water, so this can help you remember that bit. This will also prevent any damage from zippers, Velcro, and other potentially harmful materials.

  • For extra protection of your favorite compression wear pieces, place them in a mesh laundry bag first before placing in the washing machine.

  • If you experience a stain on your compression wear, be sure to treat it right away. Oily stains can be difficult to remove if left untreated. Gently rub at the stain with a small amount of mild detergent then wash as normal.

  • If your compression wear is experiencing a strong and lasting odor, try soaking your garment in a sink or bucket. Use cold water and add a cup of baking soda. Let the garment sink overnight then wash and dry the garment as usual.

  • Always avoid using an iron on your compression wear. The heat can damage, and in some cases, melt the spandex fibers of your compression. Luckily, thanks to the nature of its fabric, compression pieces don’t easily crease. If you’re diligent in removing your pieces from the wash when ready and then lay them flat when drying, you shouldn’t have any need for an iron.

Remember: Even with the absolute best care, eventually the time will come for you to part ways with your compression gear. Learn the signs that tell you when to replace your compression wear. Refreshing and upgrading your activewear pieces is a great way to ensure your gear is in peak form, so that you can be too.

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