Sports Clothes And Laundry: When To Use Hot Or Cold Water

The clothes you wear when you play sports or work out need a deep cleaning to ensure you don't get reminded of just how much dirt got onto the clothing or how much you were sweating the last time you wore the shirt. But this leads to confusion when it's time to do laundry, and that can lead to worn shirts that look and feel terrible after a short time. If you want to keep your basketball shirts and other workout clothes in better shape, don't simply toss everything into the washer without thinking.

Cotton Shirts in General

Hot water has fallen out of favor with a lot of people because of the energy it consumes, but in some cases, hot may be best. If you are concerned about germs or bacteria -- for example, your teammate showed up with a nasty cough that sounded like way more than just an allergy -- hot water is best because that is the only temperature setting that will kill enough of the germs. Your washer may have a "sanitize" setting instead; if so, use that.

For general wear, warm or cold water is decent enough for dark-colored cotton shirts cleaned in washers at home (laundromats will be discussed in a bit); use hot water for white shirts. If all you have is a slightly sweaty shirt after practicing some free throws, warm or cool water as per the label on the shirt may be all you need. Anything dirtier than that -- shirts you were jogging in or that you were wearing when you fell on the court -- should be cleaned in hot water.

Synthetic Materials

This changes slightly for synthetic materials like the moisture-wicking materials you find in many sports brands. It's kind of a tossup here because hot water can create wrinkles in the clothes, but cold water may not get as much dirt out, leaving an odor behind.


If there is blood on your clothing, cold water is initially the best choice. If you're concerned about germs, wash the clothing in cold water until the blood is gone (use stain-removers if necessary), and then wash in hot.

Laundromat Washers

Laundromats and communal washers (like in apartment complex laundry rooms) are special cases because you're washing clothes in the same machines used by many other people. And while it's nice to think that everyone else using the machines has good hygiene, that's not always the case. Underwear, socks that have been worn for several days in a row (it happens), and other potentially sickening pieces of clothing were just in those machines. In fact, the increased use of cold and warm water for laundry has led to "sick laundry cycles" and an increase in bacteria. If you share washers and dryers, use hot water. If your clothes are bloody, hand-treat them at home in your sink and then put them in the laundry in hot water.

Your basketball and other workout clothes will last longer with careful care. Keep those logos and seams in great shape so that you continue to look good on the court. For more information on finding an Equal Love Basketball Mens T-Shirt for your upcoming practice, contact your local clothing shop today.