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6 Must-Know Tips for Washing Gym Towels: How to Maximize Cleanliness & Hygiene

Published Date:
February 29, 2024

Laundry Tips for Washing Gym Towels

Gym towels encounter a lot of bacteria during workouts. Properly washing them is crucial for cleanliness, hygiene, and gym etiquette. Follow these 6 research-backed laundry tips to keep your gym towels fresh, clean and bacteria-free:

  1. Immediate Washing

The longer you wait to wash dirty towels, the more time for mold, bacteria,  discoloration, and fiber damage to occur! Let’s face it, your gym towels are generally mopping sweat off of you, your members, or your gym equipment. It’s not a pretty purpose that they serve…and the longer they sit, the harder they are to sanitize and clean. Wash your gym towels separately from other laundry items and immediately after each use to prevent infection-causing bacteria and fungi.

Gym Laundry Tip: If you have a washing machine on-site, try treating your gym towel laundry routine like a hotel linen service. When new admin staff, trainers, or janitorial staff start their shift, have them move the laundry along a step or two in the progression. If everyone does a little, there is never a lot left for one person!

  1. Avoid Fabric Softeners

Fabric softeners contain a high level of silicon which prevents towels from absorbing water and sweat, the two main functions of gym towels. What good is a gym towel if it can’t absorb sweat?

Adding fabric softener to gym towels – or, really, any towel – is a big laundry mistake! You only need a strong and reliable laundry detergent to wash your gym towels. There is no need for an extra fabric softener coating!

  1. White Towels Should Get 15% Chlorine Bleach

Believe it or not, white gym towels are relatively easy to keep clean. If you use a professional gym towel laundry service, they will use 15% chlorine bleach on your towels. This is the same solvent mix used on hotel sheets! If it is good enough for the Marriott, it’ll be great for your gym towels.

However, this bleach can’t be used on fabrics with colors. So, if you are picking gym towels, get either 1) pure white or 2) dark colors. Pure white towels can be bleached and dark colors hide stains well. Stay away from light and bright options.

  1. Baking Soda Wash & Vinegar Rinse

Maybe you’re doing the gym towel laundry yourself and don’t have access to laundry service chemicals, bleaches, or solvents. Not a problem, we’ve included some at-home tricks too!

Similar to placing smelly items in your freezer, adding baking soda to your laundry can remove odors from workout towels.. It can also loosen towel fibers and keep your gym towels softer for longer.

Add vinegar to the occasional wash, not more than once a month, to prevent detergent buildup. This will also remove odors and restore absorbency.

  1.  Gym Towels Stain Care

These are a few of the most common gym towel stains and suggested methods for removing them:

Sweat Stains

Sweat can leave lasting stains, especially on bright white gym towels. Soak stains with a pre-wash stain remover and wash in hot water with a safe bleach, as noted above.


Smashed fingers, nicks, or even falls can lead to blood stains on gym towels. When this occurs, immediately soak it in cold water and wash normally. If you weren’t able to wash immediately and the stain is dry, soak in an enzyme-based stain remover and wash as normal.


Soda, juice, smoothies, energy drinks, pre-workout, protein shakes, etc. They can all leave problematic stains behind. Using cold water, soak the stain and pre-treat it with a stain remover. Wash as normal.


Makeup comes in all shades and if not removed from towels properly, can leave stains behind. It’s important to pre-treat with a stain spray and wash as normal.

Check out our Complete Stain Guide for more stain fixes!

  1. Wash Gym Towels In Warm Water

Washing gym towels in warm water is highly recommended for several reasons. Firstly, warm water is best for laundry detergent as it dissolves easily, leaving minimal residue on your towels. Additionally, it reduces the likelihood of color fading compared to hot water.

Warm water is essential for removing bacteria, mold, and viruses from your gym towels. It's ideal for colored towels, whereas white towels can tolerate hotter water. However, it's important to know that washing gym towels in hot water too often can have negative effects, such as weakening the fibers, fading colors, and shrinkage.

Given the short lifespan of gym towels, inventory replacement is a common practice for gym owners. Washing with hot water expedites inventory turnover but it guarantees clean, sanitized towels with every wash. Balancing the choice of water temperature is key to maintaining both the lifespan and hygiene of your gym towels.

  1. It’s Okay To Buy New Gym Towels

They’re not supposed to last forever. In fact, they’re not supposed to last long at all! If your towels no longer absorb sweat or water, even after trying vinegar and baking soda washes, it’s time to shop for replacements.

Since gym towels are always being pulled from rotation due to damage, stains, or theft, it is important to have enough inventory on hand to account for this loss.

If you’re operating your gym property with onlygym towels for one day, you’re complicating the cleaning process by putting a strict timeline on yourself, your employees, and your gym towel laundry service.

Having ample inventory means you are constantly sending your towels for cleaning. And, with most gym towel laundry services, your cleaning costs will be more expensive at lower volumes. Buying enough linens to keep your gym stocked with clean inventory for a few days will help you save money with your cleaning service. Plus, extras will bring you peace of mind.

Ready to get started? Why not get some help from a gym towel laundry service?

Work with a Gym Towel Laundry Service

Get your gym towels treated, washed, folded, and delivered by 2ULaundry! Servicing commercial and residential service, you can skip laundry day and keep doing more of what you love.

2ULaundry is a premium laundry and dry-cleaning pick-up and delivery service available in Charlotte, Atlanta, Tampa, Austin, San Antonio, Houston, and Phoenix. Learn more about 2ULaundry and sign up on our website.

Our promise to you

We will do everything we can to return your clothes to you in great shape. In the rare instance that an item goes missing or is damaged during the cleaning process, we’ll reimburse you up to the full value of the item with a $1,000 maximum per order.