How To Wash Your Workout Gear

Your running gear requires special upkeep to remain functional — and fresh-smelling, too. For instance, you'll get better results spiffing up your stinky clothes by washing them in a small load that lets sudsy water swish around them. Here are a few more guidelines to help care for your running wear, as well as five apparel picks you might want to add to your running laundry list.

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Tech Tees

Special Care: Skip the fabric softener. It can leave a coating that blocks your shirt's ability to wick sweat.
Make It Last: If you want your shirts to stay fresh-smelling, hang 'em to dry. A dryer's heat can bake off-putting odors into the fabric.
Clothes Call: The grid construction of the Saucony Hydralite Short Sleeve ($30) wicks sweat but can also trap odor if not washed frequently. See our full list of Best Value in Running Shirts for more ideas.

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Shorts/Skirts

Special Care: Wash shorts and skirts in cold water. Hot water can set nasty smells into the material.
Make It Last: Throw them in the wash immediately after each run to stop odor-causing bacteria from settling in and spreading.
Clothes Call: The Skirt Sport Gym Girl Ultra Skirt ($65) is made of polyester and Lycra, so it dries quickly when laid out.

Sports Bras

Special Care: Don't put your bra in the dryer, as heat will accelerate the demise of the elastic threads.
Make It Last: Your bra losing its shape? After every run, give it a day off so its materials have time to regain their original shape.
Clothes Call: The Moving Comfort Juno($52) offers an excellent hold as long as the elastic in its key components is properly cared for. For more options, see our list of Top 11 Sports Bras.

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Wool Socks

Special Care: Avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets. They make socks less odor-resistant.
Make It Last: Socks may look sharper, but don't wash them in a detergent that contains bleach; it can dissolve and weaken the wool fibers.
Clothes Call: The Merino wool in socks like the Smartwool PhD Running Ultra Light Micro ($13) won't shrink when put in the dryer.

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Shoes

Special Care: Spruce up with a toothbrush. A machine wash can leave shoes with less bounce.
Make It Last: To maintain optimal cushioning, give shoes 48 hours to recover from a run. Use a second pair on alternating days.
Clothes Call: The exception to the no-washing-machine rule: the Vibram Five-Fingers ($90) due to its minimal foam cushioning. For the latest and best in running shoes, read the Runner's World Summer 2012 Shoe Guide.

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