As a Jiu Jitsu practitioner the one thing you may end up spending more time on than anything is doing your laundry.
Your Gi is gonna get gross after collecting blood, sweat, tears, and all kinds of microorganisms from an intense training session, and you need to wash it to keep you and your training partners safe.
So, what are the best practices? First let's talk more about why we should wash our Gi's after every use.
Risks of Dirty Gis
There are more risks while wearing a dirty Gi than being the smelly guy that no one wants to roll with, in fact your dirty Gi could be a health risk to yourself or your training partners.
Here are some of the common infections that can result from a dirty Gi and how to avoid them.
If you think you may have been infected by one of these, it's best to avoid training until the treatment is completed to lessen the risk of transmitting it to someone else.
Ringworm is an itchy circular skin rash caused by a fungal infection.
It’s common in situations where skin to skin contact is prevalent and thrives in moist environments, like sweaty mats.
Wearing a perfect Gi and belt and rolling on clean mats reduces the risk of transmission greatly.
If you notice a ring shaped rash on yourself there are many over the counter antifungal creams that’ll do the trick.
Staph infections are caused by a very common bacteria that is most commonly found on the skin or nose and most often becomes infected in cuts or abrasions on the skin.
The bacteria can spread through skin to skin contact, sharing towels, or by contact with an unwashed Gi.
It appears at first as a blister or pimple but can grow more serious if left untreated, and it may be best to seek medical treatment if you think you are infected as it can require antibiotics.
Along with keeping your Gi clean it’s extremely important that you shower after training with an antibacterial soap.
Don’t worry, if your Gi is tough enough to handle a nasty spider guard it’s just as able to withstand a washing machine.
- Unless your Gi is fitting a little too big, always wash on a cold water setting as it will shrink
- For the longevity of the fabric it’s best to wash the Gi by itself as well
- All of the above also applies to your dryer, so line drying is preferable
- Pro Tip: if you don’t think you have a great place to line dry your Gi, try hanging them from a clothes hanger from your shower curtain rod
- Washing with detergent is preferable to bleach as bleach can actually weaken the fabric over time and contribute to wear and tear much more rapidly
So what do you do if your nice white Gi is starting to yellow and you can’t use bleach?
Some swear by adding a little oxiclean to their laundry load to keep those white Gis nice and bright, but one method that seems to work pretty well is what I call the bucket method.
- Take any old bucket that’s big enough to fully immerse the Gi, fill it with cold water and add either white vinegar, baking soda, or a little hydrogen peroxide.
- Agitate the mixture with a broom handle periodically and let it sit for at least 24 hours.
While there’s no perfect way to keep your white Gi as good as new I’ve had success with this method over the years.
The Tub Method
Maybe you’re traveling the world and dropping in on gyms to train, or maybe the repeated trips to the coin laundry are just getting annoying, there is another way to wash that’s a whole lot better than not washing.
This method will take a little bit more work than the washing machine but it works in a pinch.
- Fill your bathtub or even your sink with enough water to cover your Gi, add detergent and start scrubbing.
- You’ll want to agitate the mixture and make sure your Gi gets nice and soapy, then hand scrub it.
- You’ll probably need to rinse it in cold water multiple times to get all of the soap out, and be sure you get all of the soap out as soapy Gis left out to dry can encourage mold and mildew growth.
- This may not be the preferable way to wash your Gi but theoretically with enough work you should be training ready in no time.
- Pro Tip: conventionally this method pairs well with my previous air drying pro tip.
Don’t be a Scrub
Be mindful of your own health and the health of your training partners by showing up to class with a perfect Gi, and no matter what the legends say, ALWAYS WASH YOUR BELT TOO.
Check out our latest drop, a black jiu jitsu gi made of the finest material.
About the Author
This article was written by Taylor Alexander, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt.
You can learn more about him here.