Gettin’ The Funk Out Your Workout Junk

Hi friends! Let me introduce you to my green sleeveless shirt. It’s about 6 years old and has trained for a whole mess of races, run the Blue Ridge Relay about 5 times, backpacked the Grand Canyon in the summer, hiked all over Hawaii and mowed a million lawns.

Needless to say, it’s seen some action.

My god, this shirt must smell like Satan’s rear end!

Even on the back of the President of the Sweaty Best Club this shirt is not nearly as offensive as one would expect from a dude who has worn the Beejesus out of it for the past 6 years.

Wow, then it must be one of those $60 Lululemon Anti-Stink shirts, right?

You do know the name of this blog, right? This shirt was $7 at Target.

Ah, right! So you must be using that special, athletic detergent then?

Warmer, but you’re still stuck in the unnecessary stuff zone.


Are expensive anti-stink clothes worth the money?

Any workout junkie is very familiar with that sour smell that comes along with an old training shirt. Sure, it may smell nice coming out of the washing machine but as soon as you start sweating all the funks of workouts past come right back out. That time you left your sweaty clothes in your gym bag overnight continues to haunt you each time you put it on.

It’s embarrassing.

And it should come to you as no surprise that companies (we’ll pick on Lululemon) are well-aware of this phenomenon and started selling anti-stink workout clothing! Ain’t gonna lie, sounded like a great idea until I saw the price.

58 bucks for a tank top! 

Dude, c’mon. My green C-9 shirt was $7 on the clearance rack at target.

Let’s put this into a little bit of perspective. Even IF this anti-stink technology could hold its own against the onslaught of sweat and funk I’m gonna throw at it, do you really think that this shirt will last 8 times as long as my C-9 shirt?

For fun, assume the C-9 shirt makes it 2 years before it gets funkdified. That means the Lululemon shirt will need to last 16.5 years to make it a worthwhile investment. Color me skeptical but I doubt that shirt is lasting a serious athlete almost 17 years.

You train in more than one shirt.

I don’t know about you but I train about 6-8 times per week and there is no way I’m doing a load of laundry after each workout. Not only is that wasteful both financially and environmentally but ain’t nobody got time for that.

So to be conservative let’s say you purchase 3 workout shirts and do laundry twice a week. I can only assume that you’re going to buy 3 Lululemon shirts otherwise why buy any at all? To have 1 not stink while your other 2 stink?

Those 3 shirts will run you $174 instead of the $21 that some clearance rack gold at Target would have set you back.

Now $153 is a lot of money that could have been spent on a GPS watch, a used bike on Craigslist, or I don’t know, invested and allowed to compound over the next 20 years or so!

Fine, but what about those athletic specific detergents?

I’ve tried them and have had decent results but they’re going to run you about 11-15 bucks for 32 ounces. It’s surely better than the $58 shirt but, similar to wrinkle releaser, I have found a cheaper way to do it yourself.

It’ll cost you maybe $2 for about 40-50 loads.

Good old white vinegar. An amazing, multi-purposed solution for cleaning coffee pots, making homemade Windex, whipping up some cucumber salad and de-stanking clothes!

Simply fill up your washing machine with detergent and water as usual and add about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of vinegar into the basin. Then run the wash as normal, that’s it!

But vinegar smells nasty, how does it make my clothes smell better?

I didn’t say to drop the whole gallon into the washing machine. Unless, of course, you want to smell like salad dressing. I’m not sure why it works and it’s not worth my time to figure out why. What I do know is that it costs about $2 a gallon and I’m still rocking the same $7 Target shirt 6 years later.

And if the stink comes back, just do the same thing all over again. You’re still coming out way ahead.

Showering with your clothes helps a ton

Another neat hack I learned is to wear your nasty clothes into the shower with you. Taking off workout clothes sometimes leads to sweat ending up on the walls and mirrors so it’s a good way to keep the bathroom tidy. Give your clothes a quick rinse in the shower and get all that sweat out so they don’t marinate in it until the next load. You’ll be surprised how much that helps with the future stinkage of your clothes.


If you suffer from stanky clothes syndrome there’s hope! If you think the only solution is some $60 shirt from Lululemon, please put down that credit card and head over to Walmart for some old-fashioned white vinegar.

Worst case scenario is that you’re out two bucks and forced to make cucumber salad. But give it a shot, it works.

Happy not stinking!





  1. Nice, good to see I’m not the only one wearing workout gear to death (have not bought any new stuff in years). Actually boiled a workout T-shirt this weekend (in the pressure cooker!) that I couldn’t get the smell out anymore (perhaps I should have tried the vinegar first?).

        1. Me too. But if it works, it works. Will add some interesting flavor to the next thing you cook in that pressure cooker!

  2. I am stunned by the cost of boutique athletic clothing. I mean, seriously, I’m going to be out sweating, not trying out for Miss America 😉 The large majority of my athletic shirts are all from races or from being part of a track club, which works perfectly for me!

    And the idea to shower in your clothes… genius!

    ~Mrs. Adventure Rich

    1. Thanks! For some reason all the races I enter keep giving long sleeve technical shirts.

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