Leggings have truly come a long way from their humble beginnings. Once only worn to aerobics classes and yoga studios, this clothing item has slowly but steadily grown in popularity over the years, such that it is now considered a certified closet staple. Most women own a few pairs to wear to the gym or around the house, but they’ve also been spotted at the club, out to dinner with the girls, and even in the workplace.
That said, it’s only natural to want your leggings to last a while. That’s why it’s important to know how to give them the love and care they deserve. Here are a few tips:
Read the Care Instructions
Leggings are made out of a wide variety of fabrics. Some of the most common ones include cotton, nylon, polyester, spandex, wool, or some combination of two or more of the aforementioned. This means that the right method for laundering one pair can be very different from another. When in doubt, it’s always best to check the care instructions that came with your leggings. This way, you’ll always know how certain pairs should be washed.
If a pair of leggings are made out of cotton or a cotton blend, you should be able to throw them in the wash without worrying too much. Cotton is known for its durability, which means it should survive a few rounds in the machine without losing its shape. The same goes for leggings made out of polyester and nylon. Wool has its own washing machine setting, and you should always use it for leggings made out of this natural material. If your machine does not have a dedicated wool setting, go for the most delicate cycle or a hand wash cycle.
Don’t Wash Them Too Often
As is the case with all clothes, washing your leggings too often will cause them to deteriorate faster. So if you want your pairs to stand the test of time, the best thing to do is to keep them away from the laundry for as long as you can.
Of course, this isn’t the best idea if you’ve worn your leggings to a particularly strenuous workout session and they’ve been drenched in sweat. Instead, the more hygienic choice would be to wash them as soon as you take them off. However, if you’ve only lounged around the house in them or worn them out to a quick trip to the supermarket, you can get away with wearing them at least three to four more times. If you’re ever uncertain, just conduct a smell test. An unpleasant odor is a clear indication that they belong in the hamper, not on your legs.
Keep Them Away from the Tumble Dryer
As a rule of thumb, leggings should be agitated as little as possible to maintain their shape and elasticity. This means using the lowest setting on your machine to wash them, and never tumble drying them. The centrifugal force of these actions can cause your leggings to stretch unattractively. Meanwhile, the high heat from the process can cause the individual fibers of your leggings to warp. It also weakens the material considerably, which can then lead to tears or holes later on.
Instead, allow your leggings to air dry—but don’t hang them up! The weight of the water they’ve absorbed can also stretch them out if you do. The best way to dry your leggings is to lay them flat over a laundry rack or some other clean surface.
Avoid Using Fabric Softeners
If there’s one thing that can instantly shorten the lifespan of your leggings, it’s fabric softener. While the product can be great for your other clothes, it can be incredibly damaging to leggings, especially the ones made out of sports fabrics. Fabric softener contains silicone, which can ruin the technical properties of these synthetics and make them less anti-bacterial or reduce their ability to wick sweat away from your skin.
Instead of using fabric softener, remove any lingering smells from your leggings by soaking them in a solution of white vinegar diluted with cool water. The vinegar should be able to fight the odor-causing bacteria and leave your favorite gym pair cleaner than it was before.
Put Them On Correctly
Finally, avoid overstretching your leggings by putting them on and taking them off correctly. Yes, there’s a right way! Start by gathering each leg around one ankle and then smoothing it gently up your leg, then doing the same for the other. This sounds a bit fussy, but it’s one of the most effective ways to ensure that your leggings continue to hold their shape for a long time. You also shouldn’t rush when taking them off, nor should you pull on the fabric unnecessarily.
Follow these instructions when you buy leggings and ensure that your leggings are well maintained in their shape and to avoid wear and tear.