How to Clean Your Knee Sleeves


Originally Published: 1/18/2019

Reformatted: 5/8/2021

by Malia Warren

You just slayed a workout.

You lifted all the things and sweat all the sweat.

You had some badass Donut knee sleeves for those squats.

You looked good.

The workout is done and it’s time to remove your gear.

And now, you don’t smell good.

Make your gear smell so good, kittens are happy.

We’ve covered some of the nitty gritty when it comes to the inevitable stink of working out, but so many of you wrote and asked us..

How the heck do I keep my damn workout gear from stinking?

Well, friends. We gotchu.

Understanding the STANK

Let’s throw this back for a second so we can understand the mechanics of your lifting gear.

If your items are made from a seat-wicking material like Spandex or Nylon, sometimes a poly blend, the stink won’t be as attracted to it like others.This just means that it will take longer for the inevitable stink smell to come on. But most the time these are safe for the washing machine on delicate settings (always delicate!), because they’re actually a fabric.

Neoprene on the other hand is a family of synthetic rubbers that are produced by polymerization of chloroprene.

I know, I know. I’ll use Small words now.

This basically means that neoprene has good chemical stability and maintains flexibility over a wide temperature range. While it keeps your knees nice and warm for working out, it also maintains smell.

Blame the tiny little gas pockets that help our sleeves be so flexible, aka stink pockets.

If you have neoprene knee sleeves, well, I know you know I know. They provide the best support when it comes to a WOD, but they retain a stink that can rival the worst of socks.


Because Neoprene doesn’t “breathe” like other fabrics. Moisture escapes slowly while bacteria and other microorganisms have a party in the water your sweat generated.

Kill the bacteria party and you kill the stink.

Sounds gross right? Don’t worry though, it’s nothing you don’t put your leggings, shorts, or sports bras through.

Sending it through the wash cycle with your gym clothes is the last thing we would recommend though, so check out these other options, in order of recommendation, to help prolong the life of your stinky friends.

1) Soak it Up

Sure, you probably don’t carry a bucket of water with you to soak your sleeves in after you work out.

‘Cause that would be weird.

But, if you can, put your sleeves into a bathtub, bucket or some other tub of cool, or luke warm fresh water to soak. Try adding in a few drops of essential oils like Lemongrass, Tea Tree, & Eucalyptus which are antibacterial… and they smell good!

This is a good option for every other day cleaning.

Then, put them somewhere out of the sun for them to air out and dry.

2) Let them Breathe

Find a cool, dry spot, out of the sun (this one’s important) and heat combo, to let them air out naturally.

If you live somewhere that gets warm, it’s ok to let them air out outside, just bring them in when they’re fully dry.

Whatever you do, don’t leave them in your hot, stinky gym bag, in your car to bake all day.

Because #gross.

If you don’t have time to clean them after you use them, spray some of our Bad(ass) Stink Spray™ (coming soon!) on them and make sure they are in some kind of fresh air.

This is a good option for everyday use, which is why we recommend keeping a bottle of the spray in your gym bag. Get Yours Here!

3) So Fresh and So Clean (Clean)

Ok, so you can’t keep a bucket of water in your car, you forgot your spray at home, and now you’re late for work because your knee sleeve stench knocked you out.

As soon as you can, get them into a sink and scrub them with a mild soap, or grab some of ours.

Fill up the sink with enough water to submerge them, add a few drops of our Bad(ass) Stink Suds™ (coming soon!), scrub until you get some suds, and let them soak for a good 15-20 minutes. Or longer depending on how long you let them bake in your sweaty gym bag.

Hang to drip dry out of the sun. If they aren’t going to be dry in time for you to use them, you can put them in the dryer on a no-heat cycle to speed things up.

4) Last Resort 

If you don’t have time to do any of these options, washing in the washing machine might be your quickest option.

Toss those stinky things into the washer, by themselves (but please, not your clothes!), and use a delicate cycle (cool/warm water and low spin) with a mild detergent.

To dry, either hang dry (inside out) or low heat in the dryer.

Whichever way you choose to Lift the Stink™, know that it’s advisable to avoid washing them daily to circumvent wearing out the fabric too fast. Before we leave you though, here are a couple “don’ts” if you’re ever in doubt:

  • Do not use hot water: neoprene looses some of the flexibility with high heat. Over time they will stiffen and feel dry if too much hot water is used.
  • Do not use bleach or any harsh cleaners, including Tide Pods.
  • Do not hang with clips: Neoprene is flexible and will take on the pinched shape of the clip. It will eventually go away after you use them, but just a heads up!
  • Don’t hang in the sun: Think of your knee sleeves like a vampire – allergic to sun. Ultra-violet rays cause the neoprene to age much quicker, it gets hard (dry feeling) and looses its flexibility.
  • Do not Iron, unless you want to buy another pair of knee sleeves right away.

Any questions? Email us and we’ll answer!

Do you wash your lifting gear often? Which of these methods work best for you?

Malia is the owner, and mamapreneur, of Lifting the Dream. When she’s not lifting heavy weights, she’s doing some fun shit outdoors with her family or attempting to make rollerblading cool again. She is a Cali girl born and raised, with salt water in her veins and sunshine in her heart. She and her family now reside near Denver, Colorado, soaking up the 300+ days of sunshine and breathtaking (literally, altitude) views.

Stay Lifting My Friends,

Bee Tee Dubs (BTW). 


3 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Knee Sleeves

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