3. You’re using regular bleach.
Bleach can be a lifesaver when you’ve spilled red wine on your favorite cotton dress, but for garments with synthetic fibers like elastane, polyester and nylon (a.k.a the primary fibers in your fave leggings) traditional chlorine bleach in the enemy. Care for your white or nude leggings like you would care for your teeth, says Mary Johnson, P&G Fabric Care fiber scientist. Use a cleaning product that acts like floss and gets down in between clothing fibers to remove dirt and soils. She suggests reaching for oxygenated bleach, which is safe for all colors and will breakdown body soils and odor on a fiber level while still maintaining the benefits of regular bleach.
4. You’re not using fabric softener.
You probably thought fabric softener was optional; in fact, it’s an absolute necessity. You wouldn’t skimp on conditioner for your hair after a good wash, so why would you forego the conditioner of laundry? A good fabric softener is just like a hair treatment and will keep your yoga pant fibers smooth, combed and realigned, thus reducing pilling and dreaded fuzz. For looser garments, a fabric conditioner like Ultra Downy Infusions Botanical Mist Liquid Fabric Softener ($4) can also prevent static cling as well.
5. You’re not washing your bottoms ASAP.
On any given day, we produce one liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease and sebum and 10 grams of skin cells and flakes—and that’s without a workout built in. All of those body soils get can get mixed together and embedded in your clothes. In fact, 70 percent of laundry soils are invisible, says Johnson. And all those invisible soils can lead to the deterioration and degradation of your leggings.
“Dirt can destroy clothes,” explains Elaine Cella, P&G Fabric Care fiber scientist. “If you think about sebum, it’s sticky. It attracts dirt over time.” And it only gets worse the longer you wait to wash your dirty clothes, she says. She suggests approaching your dirty workout clothes as you would a stain. Just as if you treat a stain immediately, you’re more likely to remove the unwanted mark; if you wash a soiled garment ASAP, you’re more likely to remove dirt and bacteria and keep your clothes from attracting more damaging soils.
Bottom line: Letting your used workout clothes sit in the hamper for days and days is actually harmful to the fabric.