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Nikwax is the global leader in safe, high performance cleaning and waterproofing products for outdoor clothing, footwear, and equipment. Nikwax products help people in their outdoor pursuits. From extending the life of outdoor gear, to helping adventurers enjoy all types of weather, Nikwax helps people do more.

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How To Care For Baselayers, Fitness Apparel, And Next-to-skin Clothing

Updated: Jun 6, 2019



Odor.


It happens to the best of us.


Most of us own a few pieces of clothing that we avoid wearing because we know that no matter how many times we wash them, we still can’t seem to remove the odor that’s trapped in there.


Undergarments.

Leggings.

Socks.

Compression tights.

Workout shirts.

Climbing shorts.

Yoga pants.

Technical tees.

Riding shorts.

Beanies.


All of those things fall under the term "baselayer" or the phrase “next-to-skin.”


A baselayer is any layer of clothing or any garment that we wear directly against our skin and hair; hence the phrase, “next-to-skin.”

They typically absorb sweat and body oils when we are active. Removing odors from baselayers can seem like an impossible task sometimes, and smelly baselayers are embarrassing, feel gross, and do not perform at their best.


And if they’re not performing at their best, then neither are you.

Why do synthetic clothes smell in the first place? From hot yoga to crossfit to cycling to skiing, performance athletic apparel makes sports much more comfortable. In synthetic fabrics, stubborn bacteria and microbes are the cause of the musty, sour, and ammonia-like odors. There are many suggestions on how to deodorize and wash smelly baselayers: put them in the freezer, boil them, soak them in vinegar, or some other DIY method. These attempts to remove body odors are intensive, inconvenient, and not consistently reliable.


Besides, who wants to smell like vinegar at yoga class?


Luckily, Nikwax has some solutions to your problems.

We got tired of our own stinky clothes, so we did something about it...




BASEWASH


Nikwax BaseWash is a high-performance, biodegradable cleaner for synthetic garments.


BaseWash is specifically designed to remove odor, prevent future odor build up, improve wicking functionality, accelerate drying time, and increase breathability.


For nearly every sport and activity, BaseWash is the best way to wash most of your synthetic baselayers, and it’s safe for your household and the environment. It is water-based and contains no harmful solvents or harmful chemicals. Standard household detergent will simply mask odors... it does not actually remove the odor-causing particles from the fabric fibers. This is why you can wash a garment several times, and after 2 minutes of wearing it again, it begins to give off odor. Standard detergent will not deeply deodorize, enhance breathability, enhance wicking, or decrease drying time.


To wash synthetic baselayers, follow these 4 simple steps:

1. Prep load for washing machine. Wash your synthetic baselayers together, in a separate load. (Remember to consult the care labels on your garments to ensure you use the correct temperature settings, etc.) 2. Use BaseWash as a substitute for regular laundry detergent. Do not combine with standard detergent. Amount designations are on the bottle, based on load size. 3. When cycle ends, air-dry garments, or tumble dry low if care labels allow. 4. Use BaseWash semi-regularly to keep the odors from returning.



BASEFRESH


Nikwax BaseFresh is the “cousin” to BaseWash. It is NOT a cleaner like BaseWash; rather, it is a high-performance deodorizer and laundry booster for all next-to-skin items.


So all those cotton t-shirts and cotton socks can get some love, too...


BaseFresh is specifically designed to maintain and sustain the performance and freshness of your next-to-skin clothing. In simple terms, you want to use this in place of traditional fabric softeners, when doing mixed loads of laundry.


The main difference between BaseFresh and BaseWash is that BaseFresh is not limited to use on synthetic fabrics, so it can simply be added to any normal or mixed load of laundry. No separate load is needed.


BaseFresh is most effective when used with a standard detergent. If you try to “double-dip” and use BaseFresh and BaseWash together in the same load, nothing bad will happen, but you are not gaining any extra special performance boosts or anything. It will seem as if you just used BaseWash.


To wash baselayers with normal loads, follow these 4 simple steps:

1. Prep load for washing machine. (Remember to consult the care labels on your garments to ensure you use the correct temperature settings, etc.) 2. Use BaseFresh as an addition to your regular laundry detergent. BaseFresh is added via the fabric softener dispenser/drawer/slot. Amount designations are on the bottle, based on load size. 3. When cycle ends, air-dry baselayer garments, and dry with other garments according to their garment care labels, as usual. 4. Use BaseFresh in between cycles of BaseWash to maintain performance.



WOOL WASH


Nikwax Wool Wash is very similar to BaseWash, but it is specifically formulated for cleaning merino wool garments.


Wool Wash is specifically designed to soften, accelerate drying time, remove odor, prevent future odor build up, improve wicking functionality, and increase breathability in wool layers.

2nd image courtesy of @nelson__brown.


One of the more common applications for Wool Wash is with one of the biggest staples in the hiking industry…


Wool socks.


Wool requires gentler cleaning than most fabrics and materials in order to keep its properties and performance.


To wash wool baselayers, follow these 4 simple steps: 1. Prep load for washing machine. Wash your wool garments together, in a separate load. (Remember to consult the care labels on your garments to ensure you use the correct temperature settings, etc.) 2. Use Wool Wash as a substitute for your regular laundry detergent. Amount designations are on the bottle, based on load size. 3. When cycle ends, air-dry garments. 4. Use Wool Wash semi-regularly to keep the odors from returning.



FINAL THOUGHTS:


Having clean, fresh, high-performing baselayers will not only help you avoid socially awkward situations in which your peers are smelling your “perma-stench,” but it will also make your activities more enjoyable, as you stay drier and more comfortable.


Your baselayers will last a lot longer and perform better with just a little bit of care.


Sweat on!





FURTHER READING:


Cycling, Commuting, and Caring For Your Gear

5 Tips For Better Experiences Outdoors

5 Tips For Getting Into Trail Running

How To Clean & Waterproofing Hiking Boots

How To Re-Waterproof Your Rain Jacket