Freshen up your gear.
A strange post for an Endurance Coach but one some of the sweatier athletes may thank me for. A review on some technical fabric washing products and a way to finally ditch the stink.
Technical fabrics are a weird beast and, as with most expensive items, sometimes overhype their own importance. A fast runner is going to run fast whether they are sporting a basic pair of $5 shorts or the latest from the rather cool Oiselle brand. Fashion plays a part and rightly so, I like cool looking stuff. A great pair of quality bike shorts will add comfort so they are worthy of a little extra love from the finance department. My skeptic antennae start buzzing when I am told that I need to wick sweat away from my body at an even more alarming rate than my existing items for some reason, or that a t-shirt is going to help me because it weighs a gram less than the t-shirt I am wearing now. I am sure that at some scientifically measurable, yet infinitely minute, scale these alleged benefits ring true, but for most of us mere mortals gaining one-eighth of a second advantage over the course of an Ironman is not going to shroud us in fame and glory.
What do I look for? Decent quality that is likely to last; looks (because how you feel wearing it is important) and a degree of technicality to remove sweat. The key to this post is that, ideally, I don’t want it to smell like a teenage boy’s bedroom after a few uses.
You can keep your sweet looking gear sweet looking for longer, wth less stink, by paying it some attention. Avoid Velcro. Technical fabrics hate Velcro with a passion, not only creating a matte bumpy sheen but also pulling the threads from the surrounding area causing a pinched look that sends your item from ‘best’ to ‘wear on those sessions when I might not bump into anyone I know’. Using a front-loading dryer is also advisable. The gentle roll of your clothing in a front loader is far preferable to the assault it receives from the, frankly brutal, top loader bully. The fact that the drum is known as an agitator should give the game away there, it loves to wrap your stuff around the centre spindle and gradually pull it apart on the spin cycle.
Onto the wash liquids themselves. What to look for? Three things mainly. In my opinion, they should clean, rise clear and smell good both after the wash and having been worn. I have tried a few ‘technical wash’ detergents that kind of do their thing. 2Toms and Penguin are two popular brands that come in alarmingly small sizes given the amount of training kit I wash a week. They are also not that good value. Both are clear-ish liquids that fair ‘ok’ when it comes to getting stuff clean, and seem to rinse well, but neither do a particularly good job in the smell department once you are half way through the next training session. They certainly make your gear look clean but how efficient are they at getting all that sweat and skin cell detritus out if the hollow fibres?of technical fabrics that were actually designed to capture your sweat? If 30 minutes into a run you’ve warmed up and awakened theodorr of the last 10 runs then we can mark that as a fail. The fact that I started to pre wash with a small amount of my usual detergent to assist the supposed technical fabric detergents was a warning sign.
Ditch The Stink
What’s the solution? If the above issues apply to you then Tide Sport might be the answer. At least it is for me. I didn’t trust it because how can a big tub of boring every day detergent possibly have my best interests at heart compared to the niche sports brand versions of 2Toms and Penguin? Well apparently it does. It contains Febreeze for one, which smells great after washing, smells great during exercise and even smells good after. For those of us (and I know you’ve done this, don’t try and deny it) that run short of training gear and sheepishly walk to the laundry basket to pull out the least offensive item, this ‘still smells good after’ benefit can be a real bonus. Especially if your next session is next to someone at a gym. Tide Sport is HE (High Efficiency) so breaks down easily and doesn’t clog your wash machine or your fabrics. Some reviews have mentioned the Febreeze smell – it only comes in that flavour, no Night Ocean Yoga Spray or Field of Lavender and Muffins to choose from – but it smells fine to me and I also use less than recommended, which cleans perfectly well and doesn’t smell as strong.
Tide Sport comes in big containers, cheaper than the ‘niche’ brands. Does a better job at cleaning, my clothes feel lighter and dry quicker (I assume because the fabric is less clogged) and it smells great before, during and even after a training session. Bonus.