11 Best Sport Laundry Detergents to Keep Activewear Smelling Fresh

WIN Sports Detergent's odor-fighting formula cleans synthetic fabrics with ease

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The 10 Best Sport Laundry Detergents of 2022

Verywell / Chloe Jeong

Sweat, dirt, and bacteria can accumulate in your workout clothes and leave an unpleasant odor, even after clothes have been removed or washed. Even if your exercise routine does not involve wind sprints or similarly sweaty activities, your workout clothes will likely soak up much more sweat than the rest of your wardrobe. This often requires a tougher laundry detergent than what you would use with your regular clothes.

Reviewed & Approved

We selected WIN Sports Detergent as our best overall pick because it can be used in all types of washers, with many types of fabrics, and in all water temperatures. We also like Sweat X Sport Laundry Detergent because it's a concentrated, organic detergent that is budget-friendly.

Sweat creates a more acidic pH in your workout clothes, so washing it out is crucial for fresh laundry. Sports detergents are specifically formulated to clean technical fabrics rather than natural fiber fabrics.

We reviewed dozens of sports laundry detergents and picked the best ones for our roundup based on their formulation, cost, scent, and versatility.

Based on our research, here are the best sport laundry detergents for avid exercisers.

Best Overall: WIN Sports Detergent

4.8
WIN Sports Detergent

Amazon

Pros
  • Removes odors from most fabrics

  • Works in all washers and water temperatures

  • Several different scents 

Cons
  • Smaller container than other options

Who else recommends it? Spy and The Spruce also picked WIN Sports Detergent.

What do buyers say? 85% of 2,000+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

WIN is a best-selling sports detergent and our top overall choice for its versatility and effectiveness. WIN’s odor-fighting, dye-free formula is specifically designed to remove smell from clothes made with synthetic fabrics. Their detergent removes the sweaty oils from your clothes, leaving them smelling fresh and ready for your next workout.

We like that you can also use WIN on other types of fabric, including cotton. This detergent is compatible with HE washers and will work well no matter what water temperature you use. The detergent comes in three versions—active fresh, active family, and free and clear.

Scents: Active Fresh, Active Family, Free & Clear | Usage: Standard or HE washing machines | Form: Liquid

Best Budget: Sweat X Sport Laundry Detergent

Sweat X Sport Laundry Detergent

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Organic

  • Safe for sensitive skin

  • Very concentrated

Cons
  • May need to pre-soak for best results

Specifically designed to rid your clothes of odor-causing bacteria, Sweat X Sport Laundry Detergent restores your workout clothes to their original freshness. The formula is organic, safe for sensitive skin, and lightly scented with essential oils for a fresh, natural smell. This detergent can be used in all water temperatures and is compatible with traditional and high-efficiency (HE) washers.

One capful per load is sufficient to clean even the dirtiest of workout clothes, making this super-concentrated detergent an affordable addition to your laundry room. A single bottle of detergent will last you for approximately 45 loads.

Scent: Light and fresh | Usage: Standard or HE washing machines | Form: Liquid

Best for Bad Smells: OxiClean Odor Blasters Stain & Odor Remover

4.7
 OxiClean Odor Blasters Stain & Odor Remover

OxiClean

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • Brightens whites

  • Powerful stain remover 

Cons
  • Requires pre-soak for best results

  • Need to use hot water to dissolve

OxiClean’s Odor Blaster laundry detergent contains an oxygen-based stain remover that’s chlorine-free and color-safe, determined to get the sweaty smell out of your workout clothes. We like that it's also highly effective at getting musty scents out of old towels and body odor out of everyday clothes.

OxiClean recommends that you use it as a pre-wash soak for extra sweaty clothes, soaking for six hours for best results. The detergent works well with all washing machines and comes in a convenient 5-pound tub.

Scent: Neutral | Usages: Standard and HE washing machines | Form: Powder

Best Eco-Friendly: HEX Performance Advanced Laundry Detergent, Free + Clear

4.5
hex-performance

Amazon

Pros
  • Hypoallergenic

  • Works on all fabrics

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Some scents are better than others

For an eco-friendly solution to your sweaty, stinky activewear, HEX Performance detergent is a total game-changer. It’s designed to clean tight-knit, synthetic fabrics and remove stubborn odors and stains that are resistant to traditional detergents. In addition to leaving clothes smelling fresh, we like that HEX prolongs the life of your activewear and protects its breathability, stretchability, and wicking capability.

While it leaves your technical wear feeling like new, it’s also safe and gentle for all other fabrics, including cotton and wool. The hypoallergenic, biodegradable formula works with all temperature cycles and in regular or high-efficiency washing machines. Plus, HEX is completely free of dyes, fillers, perfumes, optical brighteners, or phosphates. While it costs more than some other sports detergents, it’s well worth the investment.

Scents: Unscented | Usage: Standard and HE washing machines | Form: Liquid

Best Multipurpose: NATHAN Power Sports Wash

NATHAN Power Sports Wash

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • All-natural ingredients

  • Can be used on sport equipment and gear

  • No residue left behind

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Cap design is lacking

It doesn’t matter what kind of fabric you’re looking to clean, the Nathan Power Sports Wash is a safe bet. With a neutral pH formula and all-natural ingredients that remove 99 percent of odors and stains, you can expect clean, fresh clothes that retain their vibrant color.

We like that the formula strips oils and dirt from your workout clothes without breaking down the material or compromising the moisture-wicking and water-resistant qualities of the fabric. This detergent is free of bleach, fabric softener, brighteners, and scents. You can also safely use it on protective sports padding, gloves, braces, and equipment that needs to be washed.

Scent: Neutral | Usage: Standard or HE washing machines | Form: Liquid

Best Heavy-Duty: Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid Laundry Detergent

Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid Laundry Detergent

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Comes with scrubbing bristles

  • Can be used in any water temperature

Cons
  • Expensive

Tide Ultra Stain Release Liquid Laundry Detergent boasts a formula that promises to eliminate up to 99 percent of everyday stains and odors. Need extra cleaning power? We love that the cap has built-in bristles you can use to scrub out sweat, grass, mud, and more.

This detergent was designed to be used in high-efficiency washing machines. It also features the signature Tide scent (so beware if you prefer unscented detergents). The 46-ounce bottle promises to last for 24 large loads.

Scent: Original Tide Scent | Usage: HE washing machines | Form: Liquid

Best Natural: Sport Suds Laundry Detergent

Sport Suds Laundry Detergent

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Good for sensitive skin

  • Suitable for waterproof, breathable materials

  • Powerful odor remover 

Cons
  • Expensive

This hypoallergenic, nontoxic, fragrance-free formula guarantees that your clothes come out of the washer odor-free. It strips your workout wear of bacteria and oils that make them smelly, leaving them fresh without the help of harmful chemicals.

We love that it's safe for those with sensitivities, and it is compatible with individuals concerned about the ethics behind their detergent—it's made from entirely naturally occurring ingredients of non-animal origin. One pouch of Sport Suds washes over 140 full machine loads.

Scent: Fragrance-free | Usage: Standard and HE washing machines | Form: Powder

Best for Allergies: Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear Detergent

Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • No dyes or perfumes

  • Can be used to pre-soak clothes

  • Budget-friendly

Cons
  • Cap is hard to read for measuring

  • May leak around the cap

It can be hard to find a laundry detergent that is strong enough to get out sweat without any irritants, especially for those with hypersensitive skin. Arm & Hammer’s Sensitive Skin Free & Clear makes that search easy, with its dermatologist-tested formula that’s free of dyes and perfumes.

The formula keeps the signature Arm & Hammer baking soda freshness, stripping away sweat and other body odor smells that stink up your workout clothes. We love that you can use it to soak clothes, as well as in standard and HE washers with any water temperature.

Scent: Unscented | Usage: Standard and HE washing machines | Form: Liquid

Best Pods: Tide PODS Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense

Tide Pods Febreze Sport Odor Defense Laundry Detergent

Courtesy of Tide

Pros
  • Convenient

  • Works well in cold water

  • Brightens fabrics 

Cons
  • May need to use more than one for big loads

  • Some don’t like the scent

We like that these Tide Pods have the added power of Febreze, bringing even more freshness to those smelly gym shorts. In only one wash, the pods can renew your clothing’s scent—even if they’re a week or two old—thanks to Tide’s four-in-one technology that cleans, brightens fabric, fights stains, and freshens clothes.

The pods dissolve completely in all water temperatures, with one pod adding an equivalent of up to ten cups of leading liquid laundry detergents. Depending on how big (and how smelly) your load of laundry is, you may need to add a second pod for added freshness. The Tide Pods are compatible with both regular and HE washers.

Scent: Febreze | Usage: Standard and HE washing machines | Form: Pods

Best Powder: Vapor Fresh Laundry Detergent Powder

Vapor Fresh Laundry Detergent Powder

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • No dyes, fragrances, brighteners, or softeners

  • Works on all fabrics

  • Dissolves quickly in any water temperature 

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Not as convenient as liquid

Designed for activewear, Vapor Fresh laundry detergent doesn’t contain the dyes, brighteners, softeners, and other additives found in regular detergents that can trap odors and stains. It’s strong enough to remove even the toughest soils and smells from your gym clothes and sports uniforms. Yet we like that it’s also gentle and safe to use on the rest of your laundry, so you don’t have to worry about sorting your clothes and doing separate loads.

The hypoallergenic formula is eco-friendly, biodegradable, and even works in cold water, which will help reduce your energy costs. The 3.5-pound pouch will last for up to 100 loads.

Scents: Unscented | Usage: Standard or HE washing machine | Form: Powder

Best Bulk Buy: Boardwalk Low Suds Industrial Powder Laundry Detergent

Boardwalk Low Suds Industrial Powder Laundry Detergent

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Large bucket lasts for hundreds of loads

  • Easy to portion for each load

Cons
  • Expensive

For big families, buying laundry detergent can seem like a weekly occurrence. With Boardwalk’s industrial laundry detergent, we love that you won’t have to worry about restocking every few days, no matter how many kids you have in high school sports.

This 40-pound pail of powder detergent is marketed as an industrial product and has the hardy formula to get out stains and sweat from your workout clothes, leaving them with a fresh, lemon scent.

Scents: Fresh Lemon | Usage: Standard or HE washing machine | Form: Powder

Final Verdict

If you want a high-performance, all-in-one detergent that will eliminate stains, sweat, and body odor without harsh additives, the WIN Sports Detergent is our top choice. It does a stellar job of getting rid of stubborn body odor smells without a lot of extra effort, like pre-soaking. With three different scents, it has something for everyone, whether you want some fragrance or none at all.

We also recommend Sweat X Sport Laundry Detergent, which is organic and budget-friendly without compromising on cleaning power.

How We Selected the Best Sport Laundry Detergents

In order to choose the best sport laundry detergents, we consulted expert Drew Westervelt, founder and CEO of HEX Performance, for expert insight on what to look for in a sport laundry detergents. With his insight in mind, we researched dozens of detergents from the top trusted retailers.

Then, we selected the best products based on a variety of factors. First, we considered price, whether or not the detergent was scented, and how well the detergent fought stains and odors. We also examined formula (liquid or powder), ingredients, and any effect the detergent might have on sensitive skin.

What to Look for in Sport Laundry Detergents

Formula

What sets sports detergents apart from regular detergents is that they’re specifically designed for technical fabrics and can dislodge the stubborn odors and stains that build up in those clothes.

“Traditional detergents typically just mask the problem with heavy perfumes instead of addressing the real issue, the fabric,” says Drew Westervelt, founder and CEO of HEX Performance. “Activewear is made of fabrics that are plastic, which is a hard surface, versus porous like cotton. You really need a detergent built to clean the surfaces we wash in order to properly clean and protect the garments so they continue to breath, wick, and stretch as intended.”

Look for detergents that are formulated specifically to launder your activewear and sports uniforms and can handle tough smells and stains.

Cost

Cost is a big consideration because sports detergents are usually more expensive than regular laundry detergents and you’ll go through a lot of it. Like many products, you’ll usually get a better deal with a larger size. When considering the cost per load, keep in mind that the listed number of loads on some packaging is often for small loads, so you may actually use a lot more detergent for a full-size load.

Scented vs. Unscented

Do you like your clothes to smell like fresh lavender or clean linen, or do you prefer a neutral scent? Some detergents are strongly scented, while others are available in an unscented variety. Unscented products are more likely to be hypoallergenic, all-natural, and eco-friendly.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to wash sports clothes?

    The most important step for washing sports clothes is to use a detergent that’s specifically designed to remove smells and stains from technical fabrics, such as the ones included here. For especially smelly or dirty clothes, you can pre-soak your gear in a mixture of cold water and a half cup of white vinegar for 15 to 30 minutes.

    When washing them in your machine, use the recommended amount of detergent, based on your type of machine and load size. Turn your clothes inside out so that the detergent and water can get right to where most of the stains and smells are concentrated.

    “While using cold water is the most energy efficient, the warmer temperature water you use, the better results you will have as it aids in activating the detergent you’re using,” says Westervelt. “Therefore, I always suggest a hotter temperature at least to start for heavier soiled items to really pull out the buildup.”

    To combat foul smells and prolong the life of your high-performance sports clothes, you should let them hang dry or tumble dry on a no-heat setting.

  • Does laundry detergent expire?

    Like many household cleaners, laundry detergent typically doesn’t have an expiration date on it, but for best results, they should be used within a year of purchase. If you’ve already opened the detergent, use it within six months.

  • How much laundry detergent should you use?

    The amount of laundry detergent to use for a load of laundry depends on several factors, including the type of washing machine, size of the load, how soiled the clothes are, hardness of your water, and concentration of the detergent.

    For example, high-efficiency washers use less water, so if you put in too much detergent, it won’t get dissolved. On the other hand, if you have a really big or heavily-soiled load, you’ll need to use more. Carefully read the instructions for use on the laundry detergent packaging so you know the right amount to use.

  • Does laundry detergent kill germs?

    Washing fabrics with laundry detergent doesn’t kill most germs outright. However, washing clothes in a machine with detergent will dislodge germs from the fabric. The spin cycle then gets rid of the soapy water, along with the germs. 

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a former fitness coach, long-time wellness enthusiast, and current health editor, Lily Moe understands the importance of products that meet your individual requirements. As a marathon runner, she knows that workout clothes need more TLC than other aspects of your wardrobe, requiring a laundry detergent that does the tough job.

Lily also has sensitive skin, so she personally only uses free and clear detergents. Most importantly, Lily always looks for research and first-hand reviews when it comes to deciding on a product.

Additional reporting by Christine Luff.

Certified running coach and fitness writer Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, has spent years researching, testing, and recommending fitness and athletic products and knows that the right gear can tremendously improve performance and comfort.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kubota H, Mitani A, Niwano Y, et al. Moraxella Species Are Primarily Responsible for Generating Malodor in Laundry. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012;78(9):3317-3324. doi:10.1128/AEM.07816-11

  2. The Best Laundry Detergent For Getting Odors Out Of Your Workout Clothing. Spy. https://spy.com/articles/grooming/hygiene/laundry-detergent-remove-odors-1202807964/

  3. The Best Laundry Detergents for Workout Clothes. The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/best-detergents-for-workout-clothes-2146615

By Lily Moe
Lily Moe is a former fitness coach and current Editor for Verywell Fit.