Leggings are for casual days, for when you want to relax, run errands or maybe even work out. Still, you don’t want your leggings to look grubby — but if you aren’t careful, they will. Worse, due to the fabrics they are made from, leggings are susceptible to stretching out, losing their color, developing fabric pills and even growing mildew, which are issues on top of more common concerns like staining and tearing.
Leggings require specific care to keep their shape and look great. Here’s a guide to keeping your leggings looking like they are brand new.
Washing is a dangerous operation for many delicate clothing items, and while leggings for women tend to be built for durability, being subjected to the combination of water, detergents and agitation can cause any fabric distress. Though it might be tempting to toss your leggings in with any old load of laundry, if you want your leggings to last, you need to be more careful with how you wash them. Follow these tips to keep your leggings safe:
Leggings should go in loads with other synthetic fabrics. Your mom probably taught you to wash like with like — but in this case, like isn’t necessarily the color; it’s the fabric. Primarily, washing synthetic fabrics together serves to prevent damaging more delicate fabrics, but it also helps protect your leggings from harmful and abrasive elements like denim, zippers and lint-makers like cotton towels.
Hotter water isn’t better. You shouldn’t make the mistake of believing that piping hot water will be better at cleaning sweat and grime. Most performance materials survive cold water washes better, but you should check the label on each of your leggings to be sure.
There are special detergents for leggings. As long as you use the correct amount of detergent, you should be safe with whatever laundry soap you have on hand. However, if you want to be extra-safe, you might invest in a detergent made specifically for activewear. These special soaps are better at cleaning workout grime, which other detergents can merely cover up.
You have to skip certain washing staples. As much as you might like the cleaning power of bleach or the scent of fabric softener, neither of these components should be added to the wash when you clean your leggings. Bleach could discolor your clothes, and when used in high quantities, will degrade the fabric over time. Meanwhile, fabric softener molecules tend to clog up performance fabrics, reducing their ability to stretch and wick sweat.
The dryer is your worst enemy. While the washing machine offers benefits and downsides, the dryer is downright dangerous. Typically, you want to lay your leggings flat to dry, on a towel in a sunny or warm space, but you can hang them if you aren’t afraid of stretching. If you like your leggings good and tight, you can pop them in the dryer to finish them once they are 80 percent air-dried.
They probably aren’t as dirty as you think. If you wore your leggings for only a few hours, during which you weren’t insanely active, your leggings are probably clean enough to wear again without washing. Most clothing only lasts a few dozen washes, so the fewer times you can put your leggings in the washing machine, the better. You can do a sniff test if you aren’t sure if your leggings are dirty, and you should always wash them after a couple full days of wear.
It should go without saying that your leggings won’t last long if you keep them in a crumpled heap on your floor. Storage is as important as washing for preserving the integrity of your leggings. Fortunately, storage is much simpler to do correctly; there are only two guidelines for safe legging storage:
Leggings are best stored horizontally. A closet is no place for leggings; hanging typically causes them to stretch out, which will weaken the fabric and prevent them from fitting properly. Instead, your leggings should be folded or rolled up on shelves or inside drawers.
Your leggings must be dry. Everyone is tempted to fold clothes from the line before they are fully dry; you might also consider tossing sweat-damp leggings into your hamper. Both options are bad. Wet or damp leggings are likely to grow mildew, which smells dreadful, destroys fabrics and is difficult to remove fully from clothes. Regardless of how your leggings get wet, you should let them dry fully before storage.
Leggings are comfortable and versatile — they could be the most beloved elements of your wardrobe. As such, they should be properly cared for to keep them looking and feeling great in the long term.