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How to Make a Gym Bag Smell Better

Lose the funk and keep your fitness fresh with these deodorizing hacks for a clean gym bag.

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Training hard can lead to two things: progress and perspiration. If you work out a lot, you probably know the importance of washing your gym clothes. But when’s the last time you cleaned your gym bag?

That’s right. Your gym bag needs to be washed every once in a while, too. Over time, these training totes can pick up the smells of whatever’s placed inside — gym apparel, shoes. And if you don’t address it, these funky fitness fumes can compound. Even worse, the clean gear you place inside can quickly turn rank thanks to the odors present.

Fortunately, a few easy tips can help to keep your bag and garments smelling fresh between workouts. Heed them, for your nostrils' sake — and everyone else's.

Air Out the Funk

One of the best defenses against pesky sweat smells in a gym bag? Mother nature. When your tote stays closed underneath your desk, in your car or by your door throughout the day, there’s little air circulation to help remove any odors. This can create the perfect breeding ground for funk.

After you get home from your latest training session or class — or if your bag is sitting stagnant for a long period — it’s a good practice to empty your gym bag and let those fabrics breathe a little. You can even help kill any odor-causing bacteria at this stage by wiping down the interior and exterior of your bag with a disinfecting wipe or cloth.

Victory in Vinegar

Okay, so airing out your gym bag is a great first step. But what if you’ve already hit the lingering stages where those smells have taken refuge in your duffel’s fibers? No need to worry. A good wash can help you rid your training gear of those uninvited odors.

A simple hand wash — or a rinse in your washing machine if your bag is machine washable — can help eliminate the stench. Be mindful of how much detergent you use, however. Washing machines are built to process limited amounts of soap per load. Excess detergent can cause them to build up in the fibers, leaving your bag with a different kind of funk.

One of the best tricks, whether hand washing or machine washing, is to add a half-cup of distilled white vinegar to your detergent. Distilled white vinegar can be excellent at removing stains and eliminating odors, so adding this common household item can be perfect for getting rid of those gym-born fragrances.

fresh wave odor eliminating and deodorizing packs
Fresh Wave

Drop-Ins for Daily Odor Defense

Another great way to keep odors at bay is by adding to what’s inside your gym bag. Tea bags can be a great addition to the interior of your tote. These absorbent little beauties can help trap the odors overnight, sucking up unpleasantries with ease. Simply replace after a few days of use and your bag should be good to go.

Dryer sheets can also be used to absorb odors within your gym bag. The fresh scent you find after each load of laundry can be felt within your fitness gear, but sensitive nostrils beware: potent dryer sheets can be a little overpowering.

Lastly, there are products, like Fresh Wave’s Odor Removing Packs, that work just like the aforementioned tea bags and dryer sheets, absorbing odors as they present themselves for a clean, fresh environment. Whichever method you choose, be sure to routinely swap out the absorbers to ensure your sweet-smelling scent stays pronounced.

Odor Eliminating & Deodorizing Packs (Bag of 6)

Fresh Wave amazon.com

Deodorant for Your Fitness Equipment?

If you’d rather not have to worry about dropping in and replacing odor absorbers in your bag, why don’t you deodorize your tote like you do your armpits? There are deodorants, like Swiff spray, that you can use on your garments and gym bags to help protect against odors in a fragrance-free fashion. Simply coat your gym bag and protect your gear from the funk, re-applying when needed. Also, Swiff’s compact packing allows you to keep the deodorant in your bag worry-free without taking up too much space.


Swiff swiffspray.com
$29.99 (14% off)

You can also use those essential oils you have from your at-home diffuser. Fill a spray bottle with water and a few drops of your favorite scent for a refreshing aroma between washes. This concoction can help keep your sweat-drenched smells at bay, extending the time between rinse cycles.

Your gym bag is with you through all your training trials and tribulations. Don’t let it — or your nose — suffer through stinky sessions and use these hacks to get your tote smelling fresh throughout its lifespan.

Need a new gym bag altogether? Read our roundup of the best gym bags you can buy.

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