With all the clothes triathletes have, it should never come to this...

With all the clothes triathletes have, it should never come to this…

Let’s first lay down the ground work….

Triathletes swim, bike, AND run, so you are dealing with three different types of laundry and we, as triwives, must find inner peace with this phenomenon when doing a the laundry.  We’d like nothing better than to say they do their own laundry, but who are we kidding.  

There are unique characteristics to the triathlete’s wardrobe and hence, to their laundry.  We first want to introduce you to these differences and then will follow-up with tips for dealing with all those sweaty piles of spandex.


  1. Triathletes work out 1, 2, and even 3 times a day, providing you with additional sets of dirty clothes to wash almost every day!
  2. You must be prepared for chlorine, salt, blood, and GU!  Yes, chlorine from the pool, salt from the ocean and their bodies, blood from bloody nipples (they do actually make nipple guards) and falls, and GU from the packages they forgot to empty from their pockets and end up in the washer and dryer.  We’re not even going to talk about some of the GI issues in bike shorts; mostly because we haven’t had to deal with them – yeah – and because it should be covered in the how-to’s.  We’re just postponing the inevitable…
  3. Speaking of pockets….There are way too many pockets in tri clothing and all in different places.  Who knew they made back pockets in bike shirts??  Okay, hands up from everyone whose triathlete now has a warped plastic something.  Sherry’s trihubby has a warped beach card with the front covered in GU – at least we think it’s the Salted Caramel, his favorite.

    TWCLAUNWARPPicMonkey Collage

    Beach card both warped and gu’ed!!!

  4. The dirty wardrobe smells and we mean really smells!  And wet…NEVER, EVER mistake the –  just back from a 2 hour run in 90 degree heat sopping wet shorts and tee – for just washed!!  Don’t laugh.  It has been done.  This is not a triwife myth…
  5. Triathlon clothes are not cheap!  One pair of bike shorts start at $39.99 and go way up from there.  Then, there are the precious trikits from races.  Those are usually saved for long weekend rides on the road, as they can be a special badge of honor.  And the socks…Running socks can cost a lot.  We once saw these “awesome socks I read about in Triathlete magazine” now in our house for $13.99!  Seriously, at these prices, if you can’t find a sock coming out of the dryer, check the sleeves of the bike shirts!

    Lost socks anyone?

    Lost socks anyone?

  6. Triathlete clothes can be delicate, wear easily from friction, and suffer from pit stains, rips and tears from falls, and just plain wear and tear.  Bike shorts and swim trunks have been known to thin in the crotch area. (Sorry for the visual image you now have).
  7. Triathlete clothes will travel a lot, sometimes more than you!  So, you must be prepared for how to transport them after a race, both when you’re present and when you’re not, and teach your triathlete well.
  8. Triathlete clothing is very difficult to fold neatly and to stay that way, no matter what you do.  Between odd-shaped bike shirts, bike short padding, and all the spandex, don’t even try.  The worst is the one-piece bike outfit.  You have to fold the top part over the bulky padded shorts.  Whoever thought this was a good idea???  Put it in a drawer and don’t worry!  Trust us.  They’ll know where to find it…

    Tri clothing in it

    Tri clothing in it’s own space when clean.

  9. Triathletes have clothing items both specific to their sport and in quantities no other athletes have.  Plus, you have to factor in a variety of materials and if you live with seasons, a variety of weights.  To name a few, they have arm warmers, arm coolers, knee warmers, leg warmers, balaclava (face masks), running tights, gloves, swim caps, running hats, bike vests, bike jackets.  Plus, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the beloved finisher’s jacket.  Then, there’s short sleeves, long sleeves, singlet, fleece, fit-dry…And, who’s had to figure out how to put that bolero jacket thing back on a vest to make it a long sleeve jacket????
  10. And, then there’s the shoes.  Don’t ask, just accept.  You’ll be dealing with running shoes for training, for trails, and for races.  Then, bike shoes and a back-up pair.  And, then you have the pool shoes weighted for aqua running just in case of injury or flip-flops.  And, then they have multiples of each!


    Just a sampling of the shoe wardrobe…

So in all, know:

  • They will spend as much or more on triclothes than you will on your clothing at times.
  • Triathlete clothing is sacred, nothing else to say.
  • The next time you find yourtrihubby hovering over the computer or iPad, chances are the screen will look like this…


    Screenshot of what trihubby was recently browsing…

  • It smells, oh, did we say that already….

So, next up, we’ll give you some great tips for dealing with the laundry aspect of the triathlete’s wardrobe.  Years of experience give us a special expertise!