A Step-By-Step Guide To Removing Odor From Gym Clothes & Hats.

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It’s happened to all of us. We leave our workout clothes in our gym bag, locked in a hot trunk for a few days. When we go to empty that bag, we are knocked over by the odor that has developed. It’s so bad that even a run through the washing machine doesn’t help.

There’s a fine line between body odor and what happens when we leave our workout clothes and hats soaked in sweat, only to wear them again without washing them. Once you cross that line, even the washing machine can’t help you.

As a bald guy who wears a lot of baseball hats, this is a common issue for me. My big ole bald head gets sweaty, and with no hair to catch that sweat, I rely on hats to keep my face dry. 

I’ve tried everything from home remedies involving different kinds of vinegar, baking soda, and citrus fruits to store-bought solutions that all promise funk relief. And almost none of it works… Almost.

So, how do you get the odor out of your workout clothes when a standard wash won’t do? And how about those hats we repeatedly wear until the undeniable aroma forces us to wash them?

How To Remove Stubborn Body Odor From Your Gym Clothes and Hats

There are 2 steps to getting stubborn odors out of workout clothes and hats. First, soak them in hot water and OxyClean powder for at least 8 hours. Then wash them in a combination of regular detergent and a laundry additive made for body odor removal—Air dry in the sun for best results.

I’ve tried countless ways of removing body odor from my baseball hats and stinky clothes. Whether it’s a hat I’ve worn too long in the summer, gym clothes that sit for a week before washing, or wet camping clothes left in a bag for the weekend, I feel like I’m constantly battling some kind of smell.

Of all the methods I’ve tried, only one works reliably every time!

Step-By-Step Guide to Removing Odor From Gym Clothes and Hats.

Bucket being filled with water from bathtub tap

Step One. Fill up a bucket a little over 1/2 way with HOT tap water.

Step Two. Mix in 1-1.5 scoops of OxiClean Laundry & Home Sanitizer.

OxyClean laundry and Home sanitizer and odor remover
Bucket with dirty gym clothes and a hat

Step Three. Drop your dirty clothes and hats in the bucket. Agitate the clothes in the bucket until they are thoroughly soaked through. Be careful. The water is hot! 

Step Four. Soak for a minimum of 6 hours. For best results, soak for 8 or more hours. Every 1-2 hours, agitate the clothes in the bucket. Don’t skip this step, I believe the soaking is the most important part of the whole process!

8 hour timer
Washing machine dial

Step Five. Set your washing machine for “colors.” If you have an extended soak setting, use it. Let the tub start to fill.

Step Six. Add the recommended amount of your regular detergent to the water in your machine. Do this before you add the clothes and hats.

Adding detergent to a washing machine
Adding Funk Away to laundry machine

Step Seven. Add one measure (see bottle for directions) of Funk Away laundry additive. Close the lid and let more water fill the tub before adding your clothes and hats.

Step Eight. Add your clothes and hats. Let the cycle run until complete. If you are washing baseball hats, you may want to use plastic forms like these you can buy on Amazon that will maintain the shape of your hats.

Hat in a hat form going into the washing machine
Clothes line drying in the sun

Step Nine. Air dry. In the sun if possible. Do not use a dryer on your hats. If machine drying your clothing, use a low setting.

Step Ten. Use Funk Away spray between washings to prolong the freshness of your hats. It doesn’t replace washing, but it does make a huge difference!

Funk Away spray being used on a baseball hat.

How to Prevent Odor in Your Gym Clothes and Hats

The best way to deal with this issue is never to let it happen in the first place. I sweat a lot, so I’ve had to implement all of these strategies in an effort to manage my own funk.

Here is a list of the things I’ve found to be very effective at preventing odor in the first place.

  1. Wash your clothes after every use.
  2. Wash your hats after 3-5 times of being soaked in sweat.
  3. Use Funk Away spray between washings.
  4. Rinse your hats thoroughly after each use (if they get sweaty).
  5. Don’t put sweaty clothes and hats in a bag or unventilated place.
  6. Don’t let sweaty clothes sit for more than a few days before washing them.
  7. Put or wear sweaty clothes in the sun until they are dry. The sun does an amazing job of killing bacteria that causes odor.
  8. Buy more clothes and hats, so you don’t always wear the same ones.


Getting dirty and sweaty is part of a life well lived. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. What is embarrassing is when that smell pops up again in clothes that you think are clean.

What makes it even worse is that we can’t smell our own odors until it’s too late. If you can smell yourself or your own clothes, I promise you it is already overwhelming to those around you.

Using the steps I outline above will keep you from public shame and keep your training clothes and hats fresh for years to come!

And if you want to know how to keep your entire home gym clean, make sure to check out my article on cleaning and maintaining your home gym.


Do I have to use the Funk Away brand, or are there other options?

I’ve used a few different options, and they all seem to work about the same. I prefer the smell of Funk Away, but if you like the smell of one of the other options, go for it!

Brands I’ve tried with good results are (links to Amazon for reference):

Sweat X Sport Max Odor laundry detergent additive

Sport Suds Laundry Detergent (all-in-one, not an additive)

NoNaste Performance Laundry Detergent

Will this treatment damage some fabrics or colors?

I have not tried this solution on every type of material or color. Make sure to follow the products’ directions and your clothing labels. Testing on a small area may be a good idea to test colorfastness. That said, I’ve never had an issue with any of my clothes or hats.

Will this solution remove ANY odor?

No. While it’s the best way I’ve found to remove body odor, I can’t speak to things like skunk spray or chemical odors.

Photo of author


Tim Steward has been training at home since he got his first weight set from Sears in junior high. Over 30 years later, Tim has helped thousands of people build home and garage gyms that they love and use regularly. He also holds CPT and Nutritionist certifications with the ISSA and is an NCCPT nationally accredited trainer. When Tim is not training or writing about home gyms, you can find him at the dog park with his two Australian cattle dogs, Anny and Beans.

12 thoughts on “A Step-By-Step Guide To Removing Odor From Gym Clothes & Hats.”

  1. Why didn’t your write this years ago?! I’ve thrown out so many hats that I could have saved. I can’t wait to try this this summer when sweat becomes a problem again.

    • I’m with you! I wish I’d known about this years ago myself! I have thrown out some of my favorite hats of all time and wish I could back and rescue them!

    • I sure do. THis part was a game changer. I used to only let them soak for 30 minutes and I tried longer and longer times until I found what worked. Overnight works best, but a minimum of 8 hours is where you really start to see results.

  2. Is there any more environmentally friendly detergent that can be used? I’m not a fan of the brands you suggested due to the excess chemicals in them. THe Oxy stuff is okay, but that sports detergent is a no go for us!

    • Yes, there is! I recently switched and it seems to work really, really well. It’s by a company called Dropps. They make a ton of environmentallyfriendly products.

  3. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! This really works! I was skeptical, but it really works! I was ready to throw out some of my favorite clothes because I couldn’t get them clean. Now they smell great again and I don’t have to throw them out!

  4. THIS WORKS ON TOWELS TOO!!! I run a beauty salon and we go through towels like you couldn’t believe. If we don’t stay on top of it, they all start to smell funky and we usually end up throwing them out. This method saved all of our towels, thank you!!!

    • Great point! I have two dogs and we rack up wet towels pretty fast. If you don’t dry them, they start to stink and this does, indeed, work great on towels! thanks for posting the comment!


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