What Laundry Detergent for your Active Wear

8:14 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
848 reviewer rep
3,901 forum posts

Do any of you use a special soap or detergent on your technical clothing, such as base and mid layers, that you regularly wash (or at least should regularly wash)?

I don't mean special detergents for cleaning and treating your outer shells and the like, but something for the stuff you wear and need to wash more regularly, like your synthetic tees and baselayers, fleeces, running shorts and tights...you get the idea.

I've used WIN (http://www.windetergent.com) in the past, until my supply ran out at least. It seemed to work fine, but I'm wondering whether it's really worth ordering more of it or any other special detergent. It's easier to just toss the stuff in with the rest of the wash, but I'd like my technical clothes to last long and not smell.

Please share your thoughts, especially if you'll admit to being a stinky sweater.

8:17 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
391 forum posts

I wash all my outdoor clothing only in Woolite Scentfree and have done since the '70s. It works fine, I usually handwash and air dry and have hardused gear that is 30+ years old and still useful.

Buy good gear, look after it well and it costs LESS in the longterm.

8:37 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
10 reviewer rep
193 forum posts

what about for outer shells or rain gear?

9:00 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts

For outer wear, here is Gore's recommendation:

Something I learned at an outdoor expo is that if you wash technical clothing with regular clothing, some of the fibers from the regular fabrics WILL become embedded in the technical fabric. Doing this once-in-a-while is fine, but done regularly this practice will reduce the breathability of the tech. fabric.

Also, and I think everyone knows this, never use fabric softener with any technical fabric, Including poly fleece. It clogs the pores so to speak.

9:13 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
35 forum posts

"Buy good gear, look after it well and it costs LESS in the longterm."


9:29 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts

I also use Woolite, sometimes just warm water is all.
I don't mix my clothing while washing.

11:35 p.m. on January 10, 2009 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
265 forum posts

I should like to say that I also use a wool detergent, but I must admit it's my wife that does most of the washing in our home.

Most people rather take the disaster than read the instructions, but I do read the washing instructions. Problem is that in a busy moment disasters do happen. I remember one of my first expensive thin wool underwear shirts after being washed at 90C had a size fit only for a small japanese 10 year old. Learned the hard way you may say.

12:46 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts

Okay, I have a question.

I have recently purchased a new washer and dryer, the front loading type.
The dryer came with a flat rack you place in the dryer for drying sweaters and such at low, to no heat, you know, just cool air circulating through the dryer. The garment does not tumble but lays flat and stationary.
I normally just lay clothing flat or hang them up to air dry.

My question is...
Is it safe to dry technical clothing in this fashion?
Things like silk or wool?

Yes, I know it uses electricity vs. air drying, but I mean if in a hurry.

Is it quicker, and is it safe for the fabrics?

Thanks Guys

5:32 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts

Hey Trouthunter,

Most of my tech. fabric labels say "Tumble dry low". At least the polyester based ones do. If yours say that too, I'd say you're OK with a flat rack in a dryer, set on cool. It will be faster, just like drying something in front of a fan would be faster. Air movement means faster moisture evaporation. Be careful with anything wool though. Most of mine say "dry flat". To me, that means gradual air drying, not forced air.

6:24 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts

Yes, f klock, I have assumed the same with wool and try to follow label instructions.

I guess the gradual air drying as apposed to forced air is my concern. I hate to learn things the hard way, you know?

Sometimes I am in a hurry and faster drying could come in handy.

6:53 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
110 reviewer rep
762 forum posts

You could always wear the wool garments damp. ;-)

8:00 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
1,663 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts

HaHa, I've "washed" them that way as well, by accidentally falling in the water. It is surprising how quick they dry.

8:02 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
848 reviewer rep
3,901 forum posts

Thanks for all the responses. I'm going to stick with washing my technical stuff in WIN (for the synthetics) and Woolite (for the wool pieces).

I'm sure it'll be worth the little bit of extra time in the long run.

11:05 a.m. on January 12, 2009 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
1,142 forum posts

I wash my base-layers, both wool and synthetic, separate from my regular clothes. We have a front load washing machine. I use whatever detergent we have at home, nothing special. I use the handwash setting which uses cold water and a slower spin cycle. I then hang the pieces to dry. I wash wool and synthetics together.

Wool sweaters and the like I send to the dry cleaners. Thicker fleece is hit or miss, some goes in the regular wash, some gets washed as above. Most thicker fleece I buy at thrift stores so I'm less concerned with these pieces.

I've had good luck with the above methods.

12:36 p.m. on January 12, 2009 (EST)
6 reviewer rep
8 forum posts

Sport Wash: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___10601
Inexpensive, low suds, and scent free. I've been using it for at least ten years.

3:42 p.m. on January 13, 2009 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
167 forum posts

biokleen makes a great product called "bac out" stain and odor eliminator. it has a slight lime smell in the bottle, after use it is pretty much sent free. best soap i have ever used.

works best for me if i apply directly to stain and then let it dry, then wash the item. i wear white jeans in the summer time. at least they are white the first time i wear them. after the second wash they are usually kakis. when i use this product it will bring them back to off white in cold water. i recently used it to wash my down coats. on the coats i misted the surface of the coats with the soap let dry for a day then washed in ivory soap. it removed all of the neck oil and dirt from the 60/40 cloth and 65/35 cloth and 80% off the nylon.

i have used this soap to elimate odors from a coleman cooler that had terrible mold smells and stains. i use it to take the odor off the dog when she got sprayed by a skunk. it worked better than another product i tried that was made just for that purpose.

biokleen makes a complete line of soap products and this one is the hardest to find but works the best for me.

3:49 p.m. on January 21, 2009 (EST)
24 reviewer rep
4 forum posts

Do your homework, please. There are now plenty of natural biodegradable UNSCENTED bacteria killing laundry detergents. The reason I capitalised unscented, is because of wild life like badgers, wolverines, and most of all Bear especially grizzly. I am from New England and have had to deal with black bear, though skiddish, they will move in if the smell food. Remember bacteria creates a scent of it's own. If bacteria is not completely washed out, grow eyes in the back of your head.


Edited for content. Please, lets keep to the topic

5:03 p.m. on January 22, 2009 (EST)
131 reviewer rep
37 forum posts

Hello everyone

In the UK I use the eco-friendly stuff (Bio-D or Ecover) on base layers, both wool and synthetic, with no problems. I don't think you can harm polyester synthetics on a cool tumble dry but merino wool can easily shrink if the dryer gets too hot (commercial dryers are often much hotter than indicated). I researched what type of washing machine would save the most energy once and it turns out that a very fast spin will save a lot of power (if you then tumble dry) and speed up line drying times. So all my base layers get the max spin (1400) after the wool wash, then line or radiator dry, and it doesn't seem to cause any problems.

Wool sweaters nearly always shrink a bit, even on the "wool setting" (maybe it's just lambswool?).

Incidentally, I use 'pure soap flakes' for shells, after cleaning out the washer-drawer, before I treat them with the water-resistant stuff. The soap flakes are available in general household goods shops (Wilkinsons) and are much cheaper than the tech washes from gear shops and are recommended on the back of the box. You only need a small amount and it still manages to foam out of the machine!

I don't know if you can use the eco-friendly clothes liquids on shell membranes. I did try and find out once but couldn't figure out what the ingredients actually were on the bottles and the manufacturers websites didn't say anything about that kind of application.

All the best

3:49 p.m. on February 23, 2009 (EST)
82 reviewer rep
311 forum posts

I think the key here is mild,bio friendly,wash seperate and air dry.When i do something down i air tumble dry with a clean tenis shoe to break up the clumps of down.I also do not wash my wool socks with synthetic garments or for that matter with anything.

5:00 p.m. on March 13, 2009 (EDT)
22 reviewer rep
28 forum posts


1:24 p.m. on March 14, 2009 (EDT)
153 reviewer rep
460 forum posts

I use Sport Wash.

Seems to work quite well.


9:22 a.m. on March 19, 2009 (EDT)
53 reviewer rep
134 forum posts

Tide. Sometimes Sportwash. Sometimes vinegar. Hang to dry. Does no one realize that a $20 laundry detergent is the product of a marketing department?

10:31 p.m. on March 19, 2009 (EDT)
848 reviewer rep
3,901 forum posts

Does no one realize that a $20 laundry detergent is the product of a marketing department?

That reminds me of an excellent book, unSpun: Finding Facts in a World of Disinformation by Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson. Even those of us who already think we're plenty skeptical and know how to cut through the marketing and spin blather should read this book.

More specifically, it reminded me of the part in UnSpun about Listerine's rise from 19th-century hospital antiseptic to a supposed cure for the bad breath people didn't even know they had to worry about before. "It kills the germs that cause bad breath." But it doesn't actually do anything about that bad breath. Now that was some marketing, and they're still going strong.

9:48 p.m. on March 22, 2009 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,142 forum posts

I think you do more damage in the dryer than the washer. That's why I line dry merino wool and capeline.

11:42 p.m. on March 27, 2009 (EDT)
2 reviewer rep
169 forum posts

Woolite and hang drying is my method. I have equipment that is 35 years old and has been re-cycled from hiking/backpacking, to family and young father activities with kids in the outdoors, to traveling, to keeping me warm in the late fall surfcasting on Cape Cod, back to hiking. I paid dearly for the items and took very good care of them. Wasn't thinking much of reducing my carbon footprint or being a frugal yankee back then.

June 19, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: My tongue is riding over to one side! Newer: sleeping bag allergy
All forums: Older: EMS Boreal 20 with Primaloft Newer: The Mountain Hardware Ultralamina Bag vs. The Backside Backsider