Time to air the dirty laundry: How often do we (not) wash our sportswear?

One in four Americans doesn't wash their sports clothes after every use, according to a survey conducted by PromoGuy among over 2,000 exercising Americans. In this brand-new study, we're flexing sportsy America's honesty muscle when it comes to their laundry habits, uncovering which regions boast the cleanest athletes and who are the champs when it comes to skipping those post-sweat washes.

What we found:

  • 26% of Americans who are active in sports don't bother washing their workout clothes after each use.
  • More than half of them cite not seeing the need as the primary reason.
  • Kentucky stands out with the highest rate of diligent washers: 92% of them wash their workout clothes after every use. In Iowa, this percentage is at its lowest: only 38%.
  • 1 in 20 Americans admits to occasionally wearing sportswear that hasn't been washed for at least a month.

1 in 4 Americans skips washing gym clothes after each use

For those who think the workout ends once they leave the gym, think again. Once home, another exercise begins: laundry. But how long do we let our workout shorts and training socks languish before giving them a fresh wash? According to our independent research, at least two workout sessions pass before 1 in 4 Americans finally get around to it. Among those surveyed, 22% say they wash their workout clothes after 2 to 3 uses. Additionally, 3% wait for 4 to 6 workouts before washing, and 1% admit to only washing their workout clothes after at least 7 uses. But for some, that's just the tip of the iceberg. When we asked all respondents if they've ever worn sportswear that hasn't seen a wash in at least a month, a surprising 1 in 20 confessed to doing so.

Which state sees the most people washing their workout clothes?

But where in the United States are washing machines working overtime? We looked into which state sees the most people washing their workout clothes after every use, and it turns out Kentucky can celebrate the squeaky-clean victory. A whopping 92% of Kentucky's active residents say they toss their workout clothes in the washing machine after every workout session. New Jersey follows closely with 90%, followed by Georgia with 89%.

On the flip side, workout clothes tend to linger longest in the laundry basket in Iowa. There, only 38% of residents say they wash their tennis shorts, sports socks, and other workout gear after each use, marking the lowest nationwide percentage. Just above them is Washington, where just under half (46%) of active residents wash their workout clothes after every use. Wisconsin rounds out the bottom three with 53%.

“I just don’t find it necessary”

Additionally, we asked respondents who skip washing their gym clothes after each use for their primary reason. More than half of them (52%) simply don't see the need. Just under a quarter do it to save water and energy. But time constraints also play a role, with about 15% citing lack of time as the reason. Interestingly, time seems to be a bigger obstacle than money, as only 5% mention saving money as the main reason. The remaining 4% of respondents have other considerations.

How often should you wash your sportswear according to experts?

Feeling the spring cleaning itch and want to know the best way to wash your sports clothes? Cleaning expert Cindy Hendler Tigue, author of the book 'Clean Enough: A Realistic Guide to Maintaining a Clean Home in a Chaotic World' and immensely popular on Instagram and TikTok as Cleansnob, where she provides her hundreds of thousands of followers with cleaning tips, gives us the answer to the question of how often you should wash your sportswear. "The frequency of washing sportswear depends on how often you wear it and how sweaty it gets. Generally, it's recommended to wash after each use," says Tigue. "For cleaning, turn items inside out, use cold water, and avoid fabric softeners to preserve moisture-wicking properties. Also, air-dry instead of using a dryer to prevent shrinking or damaging fabrics."

Methodology

In April 2024, an independent survey was conducted among 2,267 Americans nationwide who regularly participate in team sports or individual sports. Of all respondents, 57% were male, 42% were female, and 1% identified as non-binary. The average age of the respondents was 41.4 years old.

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