Your gi stinks


Gi maintenance and personal hygiene has always been a very big concern of mine. Jiu Jitsu is very personal martial art.

Gi maintenance and personal hygiene has always been a very big concern of mine. Jiu Jitsu is very personal martial art. Practitioners sweat a lot and as a courtesy to our training partners, we must make sure that they do not experience unpleasant odors coming from our gear/body. Sometimes it is not completely avoidable, after hard training sessions there will always be that unavoidable “B.O.”, but there are certain measures to control and limit the stink. Grappling is rigorous and the Jiu jitsu kimono/Gi is usually made of a thick and durable weave, it is easy to just throw it in the back of the trunk for bacteria and mold to form in the material(which can lead to a very foul odor). To help raise some awareness on the matter here are 10 tips on washing and taking care of your Gi.

1: While it hopefully goes without saying, you need to wash your gi after every single time you roll. It’s just the right thing to do for everyone involved. If you are doubling up on a day, going to the morning class and the afternoon class, please don’t wear the same gi. Take a shower, too, while you’re at it.

2: Don’t overload your washer. In your washer, three things contribute to cleaning your clothes: water temperature, soap and agitation. If you cram the washer full, there will be very little agitation and your clothes won’t get clean. If your gis don’t smell good after your wash, it’s possible that you’re loading too much and your washer’s can not properly clean it.

3: Try White Vinegar instead of bleach: This is particularly great if you’re line drying, but is good for killing odors without weakening the fabric. Bleach will make your gi stiff and will dramatically shorten its life by weakening the fabric. Vinegar, on the other hand, will help eliminate odors without destroying the fabric in the process. A 5% solution of vinegar and water is also a natural, non-toxic antiseptic that will kill 99% of germs. So, try adding white vinegar to the bleach bin of your washing machine instead of bleach (1/4 cup to 1 cup, depending on the size of the load).
White vinegar is also safe for colors, if anything, helping to set them instead of making them fade, with the added benefit of helping prevent pit stains and yellowing in a white gi.
When you line dry, does your BJJ gi feel like it could stand up on its own? Made of cardboard? That stiffness is from residual soap. Vinegar added to the final rinse helps get the soap out, so you don’t end up with cardboard when you’re done.

4: Baking Soda or Borax for acidic odors: Vinegar is an acid, and tip 3 will only work if we’re talking about bacteria. If you find that an odor isn’t responding to vinegar, try baking soda or borax (or combining the two) added to your wash instead of the vinegar.

5: The Sun kills bacteria naturally. If you’re in California or Brazil (or some other place that’s sunny and warm) you should be taking advantage of the sun and Line Drying your Gi’s, as it’s UV rays kill bacteria naturally.

6: Dry your gis completely before wearing them. Another common cause of funk is to wash the gi then wear it before it’s completely dry. Moisture is an environment that bacteria enjoy, and if you never allow your kimonos to dry completely, you’re probably harboring plenty of funky bacteria. This means if you’re line drying, you should plan ahead and give them plenty of time to dry.

7: Heat kills bacteria. While it’s true that washing in cold water and line drying will extend the life of your gi, the Dryer is not THAT bad. It’s not like washing and drying your kimono will cause it to fall apart in months (although bleaching it definitely will destroy it fast).
The first thing I do when I get a new gi is to try it on. If it’s pre-shrunk, great. I still expect a little shrinkage, but not that much. If it’s not pre-shrunk, I expect the sleeves and pants to shrink up a few inches.
Also some manufacturers recommend that a darker coloured gi (blue, black, red, etc.) be soaked with 2-3 cups of white vinegar and water in bucket for 30 minutes before the first time that the Gi is laundered. This helps to set the dye in the gi and will minimize fading.

8: Wash your belt. I’ve heard two main reasons for not washing one’s belt. The first is superstition. The second is that, in BJJ our stripes tend to be athletic tape. Washing the belt might literally wash off the stripes. This isn’t a huge deal, but one way or the other, your belt will get funky if you don’t clean it.
If you don’t want to wash it in the machine, use a disinfectant spray. Odoban works pretty well, and is available in bulk at Costco. Febreze also works pretty well. You can also make a 5% solution of white vinegar and just allow it to dry completely. The vinegar smell will fade away as the fabric dries.

9: Own multiple Kimonos: If you’ve been training consistently for 6 months or more and still own only one gi, it is strongly recommended to have another one. If you train multiple times each week and are serious at all about it, do yourself and your training partners a favor and own at least two gis you can interchange between.

10: If all else fails, try washing your washer. This is particularly true for the front loaders, where a small amount of water tends to remain in the basin between washes. Some things you can do to disinfect your washer include running an empty cycle with hot water, soap and bleach. Or I would recommend hot water and about 3 cups of white vinegar. If you have a front loader, leave the door open between washes to allow it to dry out. The front loaders are air tight, and leaving the door closed will promote the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew.


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