Picture of pink laundry scoop

how to Wash a Gi and Get Rid of “Permastank”

How to Wash a Gi

Gi cleaning is not rocket science. You wash a Jiu Jitsu gi just like you would wash your other clothes: Put it in the washing machine, add soap, turn on the machine.

Any type of laundry soap will do, but I typically like to use one that is designed for use on smelly clothes, such as Tide Sport with Odor Defense.

These are the settings I use for my washing machine:

  • Warm or Hot water
  • Normal or Heavy Duty (depending on how smelly and sweaty my gi is)
  • Extra Rinse (to make sure all the sweat and detergent has been thoroughly washed out)

How to Wash a Smelly Gi

If your gi is really smelly, you can either treat it prior to washing or add a laundry booster. Here are a few products that can help you clean a smelly gi:

  • Tide Antibacterial Fabric Spray – Spray this on armpits and other particularly smelly areas.
  • Lysol Laundry Sanitizer – This can be added to the load of laundry along with your soap. It mostly contains ammonia, which can be used instead.
  • OxiClean Odor Blaster – Comes in powder, liquid, or pod form. You can add it to your washing machine or use it to pre-soak your gi.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Really effective at killing the bacteria that causes a gi to stink. Spray on any particularly stinky areas.

After washing your gi, either hang it to dry or dry it in the dryer, depending on whether you’re worried about shrinking your gi. A hot dryer will help disinfect your gi and prevent it from smelling, but if you are worried about shrinkage, drying it in the sun will do the same thing. Read my article about How to Dry a BJJ Gi for more info.

How Often Should You Wash a Gi?

You should wash your gi after every class before wearing it to another class. This is not up for debate. Even if you didn’t sweat that much, your gi probably absorbed the sweat of multiple training partners, and if you let it sit unwashed, the bacteria will multiply. Please do not subject your training partners to this. If you can’t do a load of laundry after every class, buy another cheap gi or two so you always have a fresh one to wear to class.

Tips for Getting the Odor Out of an Extra Smelly Gi

Sometimes a gi will get to the point where it smells even after being washed, and as soon as you start sweating a little in class, it really starts to reek. I call this “Permastank.” Below are some methods to try for eliminating permastank:

Soak your Gi for several Hours

The goal here is to kill all the bacteria lurking in the fibers of your gi. To soak your gi, fill your bathtub, kitchen sink, or a large container with warm water and one of the following products in the amount recommended on the product label:

  • Bleach – Effective, but only for white gi’s with stitching you don’t care about because it will remove the color.
  • Ammonia – Won’t hurt the color of your gi, but has a strong smell that you’ll want to be sure to rinse out. DO NOT MIX AMMONIA WITH BLEACH as this creates a gas which can be deadly to breathe.
  • OxiClean – Produces a chemical reaction that creates hydrogen peroxide. This is my personal favorite for soaking a gi.

Let the Sun Disinfect Your Gi

If you can, spread out your gi on the ground outside under bright sunlight for a few hours. This will really help it smell fresher, but of course isn’t possible to do in all weather.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

You know that old saying, “an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure”? I think that applies to Jiu Jitsu gi’s. Sometimes, a BJJ gi is so smelly that it’s better to just buy a new one…but next time, tackle odors before they start by using a laundry booster and running an extra rinse cycle every time you wash your gi, and pre-soaking your gi or hanging it in the sun every couple of months. This way, you’ll be able to wear your gi a lot longer without the smell becoming a problem.

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