Yeah, we all know wearing sweaty gym clothes isn’t the best way to smell your best but is it really that bad of a habit? This is one of the questions I get asked the most. Usually, it’s in a flip kind of way. The guy will say “It’s gross, but not really that bad, right?” with a chuckle. At first, I didn’t take it as a question. After hearing it dozens (maybe hundreds) of times, I’m thinking that this isn’t just a joke but a question too embarrassing to ask in the usual way.
Should You Be Wearing Sweaty Gym Clothes More Than Once?
I’m down for the green movement. I think reusing items like water bottles is a great way to do my part to reduce my carbon footprint. But will your reuse of your sweats save anything but an additional few items in your laundry load? Not in my opinion.
The reality of it is that wearing sweaty gym clothes multiple times doesn’t just smell awful (your sniff test doesn’t work, bro. I can tell). It sets you up for acne, skin infections, and other problems that are completely avoidable.
A Rare Occasion Won’t Kill You
I get it. Laundry sucks. We live busy lives. It’s easy to think that you’ve got another clean set of sweats to wear when you don’t. It’s also easy to think that you swapped the dirty stuff out of your gym bag and tossed in some clean ones when you didn’t. On a rare occasion, when you’ve made a mistake, wearing sweaty gym clothes won’t be your best move, but it won’t kill you, either.
Doing it out of habit? That’s something else. Your t-shirt, tank, socks, shorts, pants, or anything else you’ve already worn and sweat into – even if it wasn’t an intense sweat – are really meant for one wear only before they get tossed into the laundry bin. And, so you know, once you toss them in, they shouldn’t come out again until they’re being loaded into the washer. Picking something back out of the laundry pile is really best left for genuine emergencies only…or not at all.
How Bad is Wearing Sweaty Gym Clothes for You?
How bad it is depends on a lot of things. If you wear a pair of track pants for a walk on a breezy day, you don’t work up much of a sweat and that’s all you wear them for, you could probably do that two or three times without any real problems, in my opinion. Especially if you hang them or lay them on something instead of bunching them up (that way, any sweat that was on there can dry out instead of staying damp and letting a microscopic jungle form).
Your socks, boxers, or tighty-whities should probably never be reused. Nor should anything else that really got sweat on. Pay attention to your clothing when you take it off. Are there wet spots? If so, you should probably just toss it in the laundry.
Sweat on clothing is a breeding ground for pathogens, viruses, fungi, yeast, and other microscopic life forms that are best left off your skin unless you want them to make you their new home.
After a typical workout session, re-wearing the sweaty gym clothes you had on should really be out of the question from now on. The smell is one thing, but the risk of infection is something else.
On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is a piece of clothing fresh from the washing machine, 2 is if it fell on the floor and you stepped on it in a bare foot, and 10 is what it would be if it fell in the toilet pre-flush, I’d say that wearing sweaty gym clothes a second time is a solid 8. Just don’t do it, guys. After all, think of the places where you get the sweatiest…is that really where you want a bacterial rash or fungal or yeast infection?