Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 10:16 AM
More than 10 million people in the UK frequent the gym and half of the population purchased home workout products during the pandemic.
Having the motivation to stick to a fitness routine is paramount to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but what about our less-than-healthy workout habits?
lululemon surveyed just under 300 respondents who work out regularly to reveal the public’s discreet workout habits.
The brand also consulted with hygiene experts on what we should (and should definitely not) be doing post-workout.
- Close to half (46%) of Brits don’t wash their workout clothes after every workout
- 62% of people consider not showering after yoga or Pilates
- 27% of people wouldn’t wash workout wear after weightlifting or a resistance band workout
- A staggering 66% of people don’t wash their hair after workouts
Hygiene Expert, Brian Sansoni, Senior Vice President of the American Cleaning Institute, answers our burning questions about the most helpful and harmful habits post-workout.
How often should we be washing our gym wear?
“Bacteria grows in a moist environment, making sweaty clothes an ideal incubator. You may not wear workout clothes for long, but if you’re sweating in them, you should wash them after every wear.
You may be able to get away with a bit less frequently in cooler weather with only low-impact exercises.
However, the more something clings to your skin, like socks or a sports bra, the more it needs to be washed after wearing, even once.”
According to the survey, 62% of people consider not washing after yoga or Pilates and 27% of people wouldn’t wash workout wear after weightlifting. One in ten respondents would even avoid washing after a sweaty run.
Should we wash our body and our hair after every workout?
“If you’ve been sweating, it’s a good idea to wash for the same reason you throw your workout clothes in the basket.
Sweat breeds bacteria that can cause odour and potentially lead to infection.”
Contrary to this, just 47% of men wash their hair which is significantly higher than the 21% of women. However, 85% of women always wash their body after every workout versus 78% of men.
What happens if you wear your workout/gym wear more times than recommended?
“Sweaty clothes sitting in a gym bag can breed bacteria and other germs. If you continue to wear those clothes, you may notice that they smell and even if they don’t smell when you put them on, you may notice it as you warm up.
It also opens the possibility that the germs affect your skin health or cause an infection. You’ll probably be fine, but by just tossing your clothes in the washing machine, you can reduce the risk.
Consider adding a fabric softener dryer sheet (assuming the fabric label instructions allow for it) in the dryer too.”
The survey reveals that 39% of people will avoid washing their gym kit after working out as they don’t think it smells.
In fact, just half of people wash their workout clothes after every workout.
A further 12% of respondents say they don’t wash workout wear after working out because it’s too much effort.
3 in 10 wear workout wear for two workouts before washing and almost one in 10 wear leggings, shorts or joggers for FIVE workouts before washing!
Does anything happen if people stay in their workout wear for hours after a workout?
“Without washing, over time, germs will multiply. Avoid potential issues, like bacterial and fungal infections, by removing workout clothes and showering after the workout is done.”
However, according to the survey, the average Brit stays in their gym kit for 48 minutes after a workout, with 1 in 20 staying in workout wear for 2-4 hours after a workout.
While it’s crucial that we practice good hygiene habits post-workout, it’s also important that we are aware of the impact this can have on our gym wear.
21% of people don’t wash workout wear after working out, to keep the quality of workout clothing for longer.
According to Robyn Kimber, Sustainability Program Manager EMEA at Lululemon, washing workout wear will often affect the quality of clothing.
Robyn recommends choosing “clothes with anti-stink technology and hanging them up to dry before putting them away” to maintain quality.
For more information on appropriate gym wear and practising hygienic post-workout habits, you can find the full story here: