The most effective way of reducing the environmental cost of buying new running clothes, is to do it less often. The fewer items we buy, the lower the environmental burden. This sounds great in theory, but is hard to achieve if your kit wears out quickly and constantly needs replacing. With this in mind, here’s the Lonely Goat guide to making your running clothes last longer.
Dry before you wash
It is bacteria that makes your running clothes smell. They love temperate, moist environments, so a bundle of damp, sweaty clothes at the bottom of a laundry bin is the perfect environment.
If you hang wet or sweaty running clothes up to air-dry before putting them in your laundry bin, then that can help prevent them from getting too smelly. In turn, this may mean you don’t have to replace your running clothes so often.[Bonus tip: Get a separate washing bin for your running clothes, so you don’t have to worry about sweaty running kit ‘contaminating’ your other clothes!]
Keep it cool
The friction of running will subject your clothes to wear and tear, but that’s unavoidable. Instead, think about the effect that your laundry routine is having on them.
Bouncing around a washing machine at a high temperature will gradually damage your clothes – especially stretchy materials. You can reduce this by washing less frequently, or washing on a cooler temperature.
Washing at 30 degrees will still get your clothes clean – unless they’re particularly smelly – while being gentler on your clothes and your energy bills.
Bag it up
If you have a sports bra with clasps, or a jacket with zips, consider putting them in a laundry bag (or pillow case) when washing. This will prevent the clasps and zips from snagging on other items in the washing machine.
One way to minimise the abrasive effects of using a washing machine is to hand-wash your running clothes.
We realise this might not be a popular option when faced with a massive pile of muddy, smelly kit. Instead, consider whether you might be able to do a couple of smaller items every now and then, rather than a full load.[Bonus tip: If you’re traveling, and don’t have access to laundry facilities, take your running kit into the shower with you.]
Avoid fabric softener
Fabric softeners coat your clothes in a fine film that feels smooth. Unfortunately, running clothing is designed to be breathable and moisture wicking. The fine film of fabric softener clogs the tiny holes in the fabric, making it perform less effectively.
Also, this film can trap in dirt and bacteria which smells, thus defeating the object of washing your clothes in the first place.
If your running kit feels coarse, then you can always put a running lubricant on your sensitive areas.
Heat and friction damage clothes, so it is best to avoid tumble dryers if you want to make your running clothes last longer. Sometimes the convenience of a tumble dryer is helpful, but air-drying is much better for minimising wear and tear of your clothes.
Extend the lifespan
If you can extend the lifespan of each item of clothing by just nine months before replacing it, you can reduce the emissions and resource impact that went into making it by 20-30 per cent*.
If you have no choice but to replace your old running clothes, remember that you can get money off in the Lonely Goat club shop with Re-Goat.
Simply recycle or rehome your old running tops – by putting them in a recycling bin or donating them to a charity shop, for example – and take a photo of you doing so. Send us the photo using our online form, and you will receive a £5 gift voucher to be used on our range of Repreve recycled plastic club tops.
For more information on Re-Goat, including the terms and conditions, please click here.
How about you?
Do you have any clever hacks, neat tricks, or top tips to make your running clothes last longer? If so, please share them with the Lonely Goat Running Club community on Instagram, Facebook and Strava.
* Siegle, L, “Fashion fails and how to survive them”, Pipeline: The Journal of Surfers Against Sewage, No. 112, 2020, pp. 10-13.