How to Wash Rash Guard

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For anyone who has ever worn rash guards for training BJJ, MMA or Muay Thai, there is no looking back once you try them on the first time. They feel great to train in; keeps you dry and comfy; and they look really awesome. While rash guards are not the standard Muay Thai training wear, they are fast becoming a staple wear in fight gyms and fitness circles.

The Queer Case of Rash Guard Stench
Almost all rash guards are made with polyester and spandex fibers, usually a blend of around 80% and 20% respectively. While it is a great sports fabric for its moisture-wicking capability, studies show that polyester breeds and harbors more odor causing bacteria compared to other fabrics such as cotton. It was found that polyester fibers trap oil excreted by the body where a host of bacteria thrives easily. This is why if you search the web, there is a moderately high incidence of rash guard stench. Not only is it unpleasant to train with stinky rash guards, introducing unsavoury scents to your gym mates is just etiquettely inappropriate.

Body Odor
If your rash guards actually smell fresh after wash and before training but starts emitting unpleasant scents minutes into training, there is a chance that it might be a case of BO. For your gym mates’ sake, remember to shower before training and some deodorant will easily fix the problem.

How to Clean Your Rash Guards

By following some simple guidelines highlighted in this section, you not only lessen the probability of being plagued with rash guard stench, but also reduce fray and minimize wear and tear. Here are some recommendations on keeping your rash guards clean and fresh, while maximizing the clothing’s life expectancy:

Never Leave Your Rash Guards in Your Gym Bag Overnight
This is the golden rule. Where possible, wash your soiled rash guards as soon as you get home. If you tend to leave them in the gym bag overnight or stacked amongst a pile of dirty laundry, this will cause unpleasant odors to build up in no time. The very least you should do is to hang them up and leave them to air in a well-ventilated area before you have the opportunity to put them to wash.

Washing Your Rash Guards
There is a little more to washing rash guards if you want to them to last for many years. While most clothing is unfortunately subject to pilling or fraying, there are steps you can take to minimize it.

Check care label: More often than not, rash guards come with a care label. Whenever possible, check the label to ensure the best washing methods.

Machine wash: This is obviously the easiest way to wash your rash guards. Before you scurry off to do your laundry, there are some things to take note of. Before dumping into the machine, I always turn my rash guards inside out and place them in a delicates bag to minimize friction and reduce piling of the fabric. And as per general washing recommendations, separating your laundry into light- and dark-colored pile and washing separately can help to prevent colorizing the lighter clothes.

Hand wash: With a delicates bag, there really isn’t a need for hand washing to minimize damage. However, if you need to hand wash for cost-saving or whatever reason, there are some things to take note of. 1) Check the care label to determine the temperature of water to use, and always use a mild detergent. 2) Use gentle movements to swish the rash guards through the soapy water to avoid stretch or damage to the fabric. 3) Use clean water to rinse out the soap and repeat a few times if necessary to make sure all residual soap is removed. 4) Lastly, gently squeeze to remove excess water.

Drying: Line/hang dry if possible and make sure to avoid twisting or wringing as this may stretch and ruin the fabric. Remember that your rash guards are typically made with moisture-wicking material, allowing for quick drying. However, if weather conditions disallow, make sure to use no-heat or the lowest heat setting when tumble dry. Excessive heat can agitate and cause the fabric to fray or pile more easily. Make sure your rash guards are fully dry before storing in wardrobes/drawers.

More Tips to Prevent Fabric Damage

Besides taking care with the wash, there are a couple of additional precautions you can take to reduce pilling or fraying:

Beware of velcros: The rough side of velcros (also known as hook) can ruin a good rash guard. Take extra care when taking on or off your gloves or shin guards as the velcro can bite onto your clothing and cause serious pilling.

Snip off loose threads: Loose threads may come up from time to time. Snip it off as soon as you find one to avoid it leading to further fray damage.

How to Get Rid of Rash Guard Stench

If you have been taking care of your rash guards, then you would not have to resort to this step. But if ever you are strucked with a case of rash guard stench, here’s what you can do:

#1 Consider other laundry detergent. Not all detergents are built equal in terms of odor removal. Tide Plus Febreze Sports Detergent is a popular choice for removing stubborn stank and works for many active individuals.

#2 If the stench still doesn’t go away, soak the rash guards with white vinegar for 30 minutes before washing it again as per steps 1 . You may also double-dose by adding another ¼ cup of white vinegar at the last rinse cycle. If the stench still refuses to go away, there might be some demonic forces at work. You might want to burn it or exorcise it, depending on your personal beliefs.


The proper and prompt cleaning of your rash guards should not be neglected. Do not wait till it’s too late before you start paying attention to the simple act. Like I always say, when you look and smell good, you automatically feel good too.

Chok dee!

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