How to Get Sweat Smell Out of Clothes and Sports Gear

After hours of running, jumping and sweating your kids' sports gear can get pretty funky. Learn how to get sweat smell out of clothes with these tips.

I play roller derby. It’s great fun and I love it dearly but it involves high levels of endurance and strength training, which means that I walk away from practice and games smelling like a piece of three-day-old roadkill.

In fact, I accidentally forgot about my gear and left it in my bag over our month-long summer break and when I pulled it out again I almost died from the nasal assault.

And this is the reality for parents of athletes. It doesn’t matter what they play or how much gear they have. The kid that’s making amazing tackles, hard spikes on the volleyball court or beating records on the track probably stinks – or at least their equipment does.

What makes it even more difficult is that some gear isn’t washing machine-friendly.

Ugh! What a pain.

But all is not lost. There are plenty of DIY methods that can kill the bacteria and remove the smell. Check out some recommendations here.

Warning: If you borrow gear from your child’s school, be sure to get permission before trying any of these methods. Always follow the laundry care label when washing your clothing or sports’ gear.

Preventative measures

The first step that you can take to keep the stench out of your home is to prevent it in the first place. You can do this by removing the gear from the bag every night and allowing it to air out (Pro tip: putting gear in the sun). also suggests adding silica packets to soak up the sweat.

You can also buy or make a DIY spray out of witch hazel or vodka, water and essential oils to spritz on the gear to deodorize, or keep a sock full of baking soda in your bag to help keep the stink away, adds.

Vinegar and baking soda are your friends

Eventually though, no matter how hard you try, your gear will get stinky.

Luckily, most gear can be washed. Check the tag to be sure and if so,, recommends popping your kids’ gear in the washing machine in warm water on the gentle cycle, avoiding any detergent with bleach or other harsh additives.

If the smell is especially nauseating, you can also add a dash of baking soda or vinegar to the load.

Jerseys should be washed on cold while inside out and all gear should be set out to air dry in the sun.

No machine? No problem

I share a washing machine with two other people that live in my apartment building, so I’ve adopted the tried-and-true method of other older and wiser derby girls: I clean my gear in my tub with a mixture of water and laundry detergent.

All you do is turn on warm water, add a splash of laundry detergent and let the soap and water mix. Once you’ve got enough water in the tub to completely cover the gear, turn off the water and add in the equipment.

Allow the water to soak the equipment, agitate the mixture for a few minutes and then let it sit for a couple of hours.

After, dry the gear as much as you can with a towel and again, put it in the sun to dry.

Helmets can be cleaned in the same way, if needed, with shampoo, according to However, most helmets are super low maintenance and can simply be wiped down with a damp cloth.


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