Washing and Caring for Your Custom Sportswear: Tips to Extend the Life of Your Gear

Your club has invested in a new uniform for your team that reflects the club history, community or your team’s individual style. Now, how do you ensure the design and fit last through countless practices, games, and sweat sessions? Proper washing and care are essential for extending the lifespan of your custom gear. Here's a comprehensive guide to keep your sportswear looking and performing its best, but remember: the best protection is always follow the garment’s care label.

Washing Basics:

  • Turn It Inside Out: Before tossing your custom sportswear in the washing machine, turn it inside out. This protects the outer layer, especially any printed designs or logos, from excessive abrasion during the wash cycle.
  • Cold Water is King: Hot water can damage delicate fabrics and cause colors to fade faster. Always use cold water to maintain the integrity of your custom garments.  
  • Gentle Cycle, Please: Avoid harsh agitator settings or heavy-duty cycles. Stick to the gentle cycle to minimize wear and tear on the fabric and stitching.
  • Mild Detergent is Your Friend: Harsh detergents can strip away performance properties (e.g. anti-bacterial treatments) and damage the fabric. Use a mild detergent free of perfumes, dyes, and harsh chemicals. Avoid using fabric softeners, which can clog the pores of performance fabrics and reduce breathability.

Drying Smart:

  • Air Drying is a Must: Whenever possible, air-dry your custom sportswear. Hang it up on a drying rack or clothesline in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight (which will fade the colours). Direct heat can also damage fabrics and shrink garments. 
  • Tumble Drying is a NO: Only use a tumble dryer if the care label on your garment says it is recommended.  If in doubt, don’t use the dryer but if you do, make sure it is on the lowest heat setting possible. High heat settings, can melt or damage synthetic fibers and are a guaranteed way to reduce the lifespan of your uniform.  

Extra Care Considerations:

  • Fasten Zippers and Closures: Secure all zippers, velcro closures, and buttons before washing to stop them snagging or damaging other garments.
  • Treat Stains Promptly: Pre-treat any stains with a gentle stain remover before washing. The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove completely.
  • Wash Similar Fabrics Together: Group your custom sportswear with similar fabrics and weights for the best cleaning. Avoid washing delicate fabrics with heavier items that could cause abrasion.
  • Empty Your Gym Bag: Don't leave sweaty clothes lingering in your gym bag (or in a pile on the floor)! Bacteria growth can lead to unpleasant odours and potentially damage the fabric. Wash your sportswear as soon as possible after use.

Beyond the Wash:

  • Store Wisely: Store your custom sportswear in a cool, dry place. Avoid damp areas or direct sunlight, which can cause fading and odour growth.
  • Hang it Up: If possible, don't fold and store your jerseys or shirts in drawers for extended periods. Hanging them on a sturdy hanger helps maintain their shape and prevents wrinkles.
  • Ironing with Caution: Only use an iron if the manufacturer’s care label allows it (mostly it will not).  The good news is that most modern sportwear does not need ironing if it is hung neatly when wet.  If you choose to iron, use the lowest heat setting possible and turn the garment inside out. Always avoid ironing directly on logos or printed designs.

Following these simple tips will help you extend the life of your custom sportswear. Remember, well-maintained gear not only looks great, and performs better, it will save money for your club by reducing the frequency needed to replace kits.  Your uniforms should last multiple playing seasons, with the correct care.

Essential Tip: Always check the manufacturer’s care label on your specific garment. While the general guidelines above apply to most sportswear, the manufacturer's recommendations are always the most accurate guide and the only way to guarantee correct performance and lifespan for your uniforms.