Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I started running, I was really put off by the cost of technical running kit. I bought cheap (men’s) non-technical wear and ignored the chafe and pong that I assumed was part and parcel of the sport.
Fast forward to today and I have learned that decent running kit is worth the outlay for its technical properties. By taking proper care of it, it can last a lot longer than you think.
When you slip on a running tee there’s so much going on in there that you might not give thought to. Anti-microbial treatments to prevent ‘that’ smell, special weaves and coatings designed to draw moisture away from your skin. Anatomically placed mesh ventilation panels in high body heat areas; brushed thermal fabric linings to keep you warm but not let you overheat. It’s all there and if you follow a few simple tips, you won’t have to shell out for replacement kit so often.
- Wash your running kit separately from regular laundry if possible and follow the care instructions.
- It’s recommended to wash your kit at 30° in your washing machine. Keep similar colours together to prevent lighter items being tainted by darker colours. Some machines have a sports cycle setting, which is a longer wash at a cooler temperature. If you don’t have this setting on your machine, stick with 30° and programme an extra rinse.
- Use a laundry detergent but not fabric softener. Softener will clog up the weave of the fabric and make any technical properties in the garment useless. It won’t be long before you started to smell a familiar whiff . This is caused by sweat not being drawn to the outside of the material where it can evaporate.
- Hang your kit to air dry as soon as it’s finished washing. Don’t be tempted to put your kit in the dryer. This will also damage the technical properties of the fabric. Due to the fast-drying tech present in so many running garments nowadays, good kit will dry quite quickly on its own.
- You can now buy sports-specific detergents. I use Halo and swear by it; it has resurrected a few items I felt sure were for the dustbin.
A good technical sock is equally as important as the running shoe that it sits inside. These little beauties are woven to help keep your feet sweat-free and protected from blisters. Cushioning, compression and custom blend fibres are why you’re paying a bit more for running socks and all the more reason you should take special care of them.
- Like apparel, wash your running socks on a cool setting and avoid fabric softener. Brands use a lot of things to keep your tootsies dry and comfy, such as bamboo, charcoal and premium lightweight weaves. Softeners and high temperatures will reduce the life of your sock greatly.
- Turn your socks inside out before washing on a delicate cycle.
- Keep similar colours together.
- Air dry as, once again, the tumble dryer heat could damage the materials.
Fabric is made waterproof by applying a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. The effectiveness of DWRs will naturally fade over time but can also be affected by daily use, laundering etc. The good news is that you can reactivate the water repellent properties with heat.
To test whether the DWR is active is very easy. Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the fabric. If the water sinks into the fabric, the DWR has faded. If it stays in droplet form and shakes off easily, it’s still working. Waterproof items can be laundered alongside your other running kit, following the same care instructions.
- After air drying, reactivate the DWR by placing the item in the tumble dryer on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
- If you don’t have a dryer, protect the item with a towel and iron on a low heat with the steam setting turned off.
- Washing waterproofs on a cool cycle is important if the garment has any taping. It will prevent the heat from eroding the tape.
If you’re uncertain why it’s so important to wear a sports bra I’d recommend visiting this article from our archives. A decent sports bra is as important as your running shoes. Like running shoes, when you find the perfect one you want it to last you for as long as possible.
- Hand washing is purported to be the best way to take care of a sports bra. Soak the bra in warm water with a hand wash detergent for one hour prior to gentle rubbing to clean. Finish up by rinsing under cold running water until the water runs clear.
- If you don’t have the time to hand wash, pop your bras into the washing machine on a delicate setting. As always, no fabric softener.
- When you wash bras in the machine it’s worth sticking them in a laundry bag or pillow case. Fasten the straps/close any Velcro fastenings to prevent your bra snagging your other pieces of kit.
- Air dry.