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Athletes running in activewear.
  • Writer's pictureCompression Athlete

How Often Should I Wash My Compression Gear?

Washing tips to keep your gear performing better for longer.

Runner wearing dirty compression gear in need of washing.

If you’re like most athletes, you put your compression gear through a lot. And as base layers, your compression pieces tend to take the brunt of every workout.


Compression wear is unique in that it applies pressure to your body to boost your performance in a variety of ways.


And if you want to get the most out of your compression gear, you need to take good care of it in order to preserve its compressive qualities.


A key component in proper care for your compression gear is a regular washing cycle.


If you’re wondering how often you should wash your compression gear, the answer is: ideally, after every wear.


A common misconception about compression wear is that the more you wash it, the faster it will break down.


However, it’s actually through regular washing that you can maintain the signature elasticity of compression gear for longer.



Washing Your Compression Gear on Regular Basis


If you routinely wash your compression gear after wearing it, you’ll notice that it stays in peak form for a much longer period of time.


Additionally, you’ll notice how the garment’s stretch and compressive pressure bounces back nicely between each use.


While it’s recommended that you wash your compression after each wear to get the most out of your gear, you may find that there are a few situations that allow for leniency.


For example, if you wore the compression piece briefly and didn’t sweat in it or put it through vigorous activity, you’ll probably be fine keeping it handy for another wear before washing.


Folded compression pieces after washing.

Keep in mind that compression gear is worn as a base layer (i.e. worn right against your skin), so it will end up absorbing a lot of sweat, oil, bacteria, etc.


Think of treating your compression like you would a pair of underwear or any base layer clothing and wash it after each use.


Doing so will help you get rid of those harmful elements that can wear aware at the elastic fibers of your compression.



Tips for Washing Your Compression Gear


Whether you have favorite pieces that you don’t want to part with or you’d rather not shell out more money on replacements, correctly washing your activewear can help you hold onto it for longer.


Washing compression gear in a machine washer.

So, when it comes to the actual process of washing your compression gear, here are a few tips you should follow:


1. Wash your compression gear together and separate from your other clothes, so as to prevent any possible damage from zippers, Velcro, and other rough materials your everyday clothing items may contain.


2. When machine-washing your compression gear, consider placing your compression gear in a mesh laundry bag for an added layer of protection.


3. If you need to treat a stain on your compression gear, be sure to do so right away. Stains can prove difficult to remove if left untreated. Before washing, use a small amount of mild detergent to gently rub at the stain.


4. If you notice that you’re having trouble getting rid of a strong odor from your compression gear, soak the item in cold water with a cup of baking soda. Leave the item to soak overnight then wash it as normal.



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 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.



If you’re looking for more ways to keep your compression gear in tiptop shape for as long as possible, regular washing is just one part of good compression wear care.


Check out our helpful guide to Best Care Practices for Compression Wear.

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