How to Wash Compression Wear
4-step technique keeps your favorite pieces in better condition for longer.
There’s an unfortunate misconception when it comes to compression gear, that the more you wash it, the quicker it wears out. In reality, however, washing your compression gear can help extend its lifespan by removing all the sweat and bacteria buildup.
Additionally, washing your compression gear helps restore the garment’s elasticity, which in turn helps it perform better for you. Washing after each wear ensures the garment is in peak form for the next time you need it.
With this in mind, however, there are a few steps you’ll want to take when washing and drying your compression gear to avoid any damage or gradual wear.
How to Wash Your Compression Gear
Whether it’s your compression tights, shorts, shirts, or sleeves, it’s generally best practice to wash them after each wear. Remember that anytime you go to wash your compression gear you are removing all the dirt, sweat, bacteria, or other impurities that have built up during activity and everyday wear.
In addition to how frequently you wash your compression, it’s also important how you go about washing it. So, when you’re ready to go, follow these 4 steps for proper compression gear washing technique:
Choose a mild detergent.
Avoid using fabric softeners.
Turn your garment inside out.
Wash with cold water.
Choose a Mild Detergent
Always use a mild detergent when washing your compression gear. Anything too harsh or heavy can damage the fine elastic fibers of your garment. With this in mind, avoid using bleach or other laundry additives that might damage your compression.
Avoid Using Fabric Softener
When it comes to compression, fabric softener can leave a film on the garment that seals in sweat and odor, making it harder to clean effectively. Additionally, this film can lessen the garment’s ability to wick away sweat from the body. So, be sure to avoid fabric softener when washing your compression.
Turn Your Garments Inside Out
When tossing your gear in the wash, turn your compression garments inside out. This will help to remove all the sweat, oil, dead skin cells, etc. from your compression garment where it builds up the most. Removing these impurities will keep your gear feeling fresh each time you put it on.
Wash With Cold Water
This is an important one: always use cold water to wash your compression gear. Hot water can damage the fine elastic fibers of your compression. Also, if you’re machine-washing your garments, choose a gentle cycle with cold water, as heavy washing cycles also risk damage to your compression.
Washing Your Compression: Hand Washing vs. Washing Machine
When it comes to your compression garments, does it matter whether you machine-wash or wash by hand? The short answer: no. Either option works fine for washing compression. However, the key factor we’re looking for in either case is gentleness.
If you’re washing by hand, rinse with cold water and gently squeeze water from your garment. Don’t overdo it by stretching or harshly wringing the garment. Then, gently press the garment with a towel to absorb any remaining water before lying out to dry.
If you’re machine-washing, always choose cold water and a gentle cycle. For additional protection, place your compression garments in a mesh laundry bag before adding to the wash. Once the wash cycle is complete, remove your compression items right away for drying.
How Often Should I Wash My Compression Wear?
Generally speaking, the best washing cycle for compression is to wash it after every wear. However, this might not always be an option for everyone. With this in mind, how frequently you wash your compression garments can depend on the activity you’re putting them through.
If you’re not someone that puts your compression gear through strenuous, sweat-filled activity, it’s possible to get away with washing it every other wear or once every couple wears. However, it’s worth repeating that a frequent washing cycle is great for compression gear.
How to Dry Your Compression Gear
When it comes to drying your compression garments, prioritize gentleness and low heat. Exposing your compression to high heat levels in the dryer can damage the elastic qualities of your gear.
So, when your wash cycle is finished, here are a few important steps for proper compression gear drying technique:
Remove Right Away
If machine-washing your compression garments, be sure to remove them right away once the cycle has completed. Just like how you don’t want to leave your compression wear sweaty and balled up in your gym bag, you don’t want to leave it damp and balled up in the washing machine. Leaving the garment wet and laying on itself can be damaging to the compression fibers.
Air-Dry If Possible
If possible, choosing to air-dry your compression gear is the better choice for your garment, as it’s gentler. To air-dry your compression garment, lay it flat rather than use a hanger. Also, when laying your garment out to dry, avoid spots that are subject to harsh sunlight or heat, which can damage the garment’s fibers.
Choose Gentle Cycle
If you opt to machine-dry your compression gear, you’ll want to choose a low and gentle setting. Excessive heat exposure can damage the elastic fibers. Also, try not to leave your compression garments in for any longer than necessary.
Drying Your Compression: Air-Drying vs. Machine-Drying
When it comes to drying your compression garments, does it matter whether you air-dry or machine-dry? If both options are available to you, opt for air-drying. While both can be suitable, air-drying is the gentlest option available.
If you’re air-drying, attempt to lay your garment out as flat as possible in a spot devoid of harsh sunlight or heat. Avoid use of a hanger, as this can cause the garment to stretch out.
If you’re machine-drying, choose a gentle cycle with the lowest available heat setting. Also, don’t leave your garments in any longer than is necessary, as excessive heat exposure can harm the elasticity of the compression fibers.
Drying Your Compression: Helpful Tips
Here are a few extra drying tips to help keep your favorite compression garments in better condition for longer:
Wash your compression garments together while keeping them separate from your other clothes. This will prevent any damage from zippers, Velcro, and other potentially harmful materials.
For additional protection, place your compression garments in a mesh laundry bag when machine-washing.
Treat any stains on your compression wear right away. Certain stains can be difficult to remove if not treated immediately. To treat, gently dab at the stain with a small amount of mild detergent. Then, wash the garment as normal in the method described above.
If your compression garment has a strong odor, soak it in the sink. Use cold water and a cup of baking soda for soaking. Leave the garment to soak overnight then wash and dry as usual in the methods described above.
Never use an iron on your compression garments. The heat is likely to damage the delicate fibers. Compression wear isn’t prone to creasing. Removing your garments quickly from the wash and laying them flat to dry should eliminate any need for an iron.
If you're looking for additional information on caring for your compression garments, check out our Best Care Guide. And remember that even with the best care, eventually, your compression gear will require some updating. Learn when it's time to replace your compression.