We hope you read our first article on the Unique Characteristics of the Triathlete Wardrobe.  With piles of sweaty clothes from our triathletes, plus piles of kids’ sweaty clothes from their sports, we’ve done our share of unpleasant laundry.  Okay, add in our own sweaty running clothes to the mix, but sorry, the smell is just different and usually not dripping wet.  So, based on our years of experience, we’re here to share some tips for dealing with the sweaty piles of spandex.


Putting post-run clothes in the sink is just so wrong…

While we certainly could make light of the subject and do at times, we’re actually offering you some useful tips:

  • With the sheer volume of atriathlete clothes, plus the condition they come to us in:
    • We keep two hampers in the closet; one for regular clothes and one for triclothes.
    • If the clothes are REALLY wet, they put the clothes in the washer themselves and close the lid. Care, however, must be taken when opening said lid.
    • We would recommend washing the clothes promptly and not letting them sit to get even riper.
    • We would not wash them with other clothing, especially anything of ours!  Warm/cold water seems to work fine.  We don’t use hot, plus we worry about hot water’s constant effect on fabrics.
  • The dirty laundry smells and we mean REALLY smells!  We use all natural detergents and have found it gets the smell out, but if you need something stronger, there are some good sport washes out there, too, such as Tide Sport with Febreeze.

Glad this doesn’t come with scratch ‘n sniff!!!

  • Chlorine, white salt marks, blood, and GU are all stains you will have to deal with at some point in time!
    • For chlorine – if regular washing doesn’t do the trick, you can buy products such as Suit Solutions, which neutralize chlorine and help prevent damage.  You can also try soaking overnight in vinegar and water.
    • For blood – soak in cold water as quickly as possible if fresh, but chances are you’re getting the garment when the blood is already set in.  In this case, let set soak for 30 minutes in a mixture of detergent and color-safe bleach, then wash.  You can repeat as needed.  Don’t  use hot water as this will just set in the stain.  You can also try products like Oxiclean and let soak and/or add to the wash.  I’ve had good and so so results.
    • For white salt marks – if washing alone doesn’t work, try 1 tbsp white vinegar in 1 cup of water and wipe the stain with a soft cloth.
    • Even though your triathlete says they took everything out of their pockets, remember they are oxygen-deprived and may not have fully checked every pocket.  So, this duty falls to you.  Face it, we’d rather check before than deal with the after effect.
  • Based on the cost and delicate nature of the clothes, we like to separate loads prior to washing, so that we get everything that needs to be hung dry in one load and what can be put in the dryer, in another load.  Bike shorts, heart rate monitor belts, and baseball caps are items that we hang to dry.  One of our readers, Cynthia Blades Schon’s, triathlete uses this telescopic arm to hang wet clothes.  He does his own laundry, by the way, and we are in awe…

A telescopic drying rack courtesy of Cynthia Blades Schon.

  • You must be prepared with plastic bags for travel after races!  And, remember to bring clothes back with you.  DO NOT pack for TriBike Transport, no matter how bad they smell and how tempted you are, hoping they get lost along the way.  The smell will be so much worse after 2 weeks in a hot, closed container!  We’ve been there, done that, and let us tell you, never again.  It really helps when you plan your trip to find a hotel with laundry services or rent a condo with a washer/dryer
  • You need to monitor the condition of their triathlete clothing and get rid of as appropriate.  Yes, we did say that.  You can let them know, but chances are they won’t monitor and toss themselves.  They have so many pieces of clothing they just can’t or won’t part with – they are sentimental about those tee shirts….But, seriously, watch for thinning in the crotch of both bike shorts and swim trunks – let’s just say you DO NOT want thinning in a pair of Speedos and leave it at that.  Don’t let them be told by someone else that it’s time to retire the swim trunks – true story – happened to a friend!  Then, there’s pit stains in t-shirts and rips and tears from falls and just plain wear and tear.
  • Then there’s the running shoes.  We don’t even touch the bike shoes.  Not only do they get wet from sweat, but you have to deal with dirt and mud from running in inclement weather.  Luckily, they get replaced about every 3 months or so, but in the meantime, in the wash they go.  You can also stuff them with newspapers if really wet, to absorb the moisture and let sit for hours!  Saddle soap or vinegar (1 tbsp vinegar/quart of water) works well to clean leather.

The triathlete’s idea of prewash cycle…

So, we hope this gives you some help in making this task just a little more pleasant.  If not, try and do what Cynthia did and get your triathlete to wash their own….