How to Know When to Throw Away Your Workout Gear

Confession: I still have workout clothes from high school and college. Now before you freak out, I don’t wear them, but I’ll be honest, I’ve considered it. I know, I know, but I feel like some of these pieces still have life in them (albeit just a little life). 

My current workout wardrobe mainly consists of a few newer pieces mixed with a lot of hand-me-downs from friends cleaning out their closets. Hey, there ain’t no shame in a clothing exchange, but this begs some basic questions like when should you replace a sports bra? What about workout leggings? When should you really throw out your workout gear?

These questions can be asked any time of the year, but these questions are even more fitting right now at the start of spring cleaning. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I know I have some sentimental attachments to some workout gear that make them tough to toss. Asking yourself some very basic, sensible questions can help you objectively determine whether or not you should keep or toss certain items. Here’s how to know when to throw away your workout gear.

when to throw out your workout gear

When to throw out your workout gear

1. Everything starts to feel too stretchy

Workout clothes should be comfortable, but not too comfortable if you know what I mean. There is a very fine line between “I feel confident in trying that new move in class,” versus “I could totally wear this to bed!”

Between the washing machine and workouts, workout clothes stretch out a bit over time. It’s totally natural, but when those leggings start to feel too loose and that sports bra is too big, then those are sure signs it is time to upgrade your workout wardrobe.

2. You begin to notice odors, wear and tear

This is probably one of the easiest ways to tell your workout gear needs replacing – obvious wear and tear. Whether it’s discoloring of fabrics, general wear and tear, or holes, these are all very clear signs it is time to replace your workout gear, especially leggings and sports bras.

Oh, and smells too. It may sound gross, but hey, sometimes your sweat settles in and does not want to leave (no matter how well you wash your workout clothes). Follow your your nose, it knows!

3. Your body feels discomfort

Another very obvious sign it’s time to replace your workout gear is when your body starts to feel and notice a difference in your workout wardrobe. Do the girls feel like they are not supported after hitting the treads? This is probably when you should replace a sports bra. Shin splints after a long walk in your favorite pair of running shoes? It may be time to recycle and upgrade to a brand new pair.

Pay attention to how your body feels when you wear certain workout pieces because it will clue you in on when something may need replacing.

4. You’ve had the same workout gear for a long time

Activewear doesn’t last forever. While you may want to get your money’s worth, because hello, budget, wearing old workout gear like leggings and sports bras could have a negative impact on your workout.

And in fact, fvery piece of workout gear has a specific life span. According to ClassPass, this is ideally how long you should be holding on to your workout gear:

  • Leggings: 2 years
  • Sneakers: 6 months – 1 year
  • Sports bra: 6 months
  • Workout tank tops: 10 years or until you notice wear and tear, whichever one comes first

5. You resent wearing it

Kyle Risley, a health expert and the CEO of Lift Vault, has seen it all at the gym. From brand new, high-end fitness apparel to sweats and t-shirts, he knows a thing or two about workout gear.

“The first sign you should get rid of your workout gear is that you are resenting wearing it. We all want to feel our best in the clothes we own, so it’s important to remember that it is okay to let things go when they don’t serve us anymore.”

He continues. “Clothing can hold on to smells, or become off-colored after extended use. This is especially the case for workout gear, which can get bleached by certain deodorants or sweat. If you find yourself feeling bad in your favorite workout gear, it could be time to get rid of it.”

Out with the old, in with the new

The next time you are wondering whether or not you should break up with that pair of leggings or say so long to that sports bra, ask yourself these five questions and consider the benefits of clearing out some of your old workout gear. More closet and drawer space? Go ahead and Marie Kondo it. Treat yourself to a new piece or two? Why not!

And if you come across workout pieces that are long past donation status, turn them into reusable cleaning rags for around the house. You can still give your favorite workout pieces a second life. You just have to get creative with it!

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About Ashley Martens

Ashley Martens is a Wellness Writer based in Chicago, Illinois. With a background in a digital marketing coupled with her knowledge of general nutrition and a lifelong passion for all things health, wellness, fitness and nutrition, Ashley offers a healthy alternative to traditional writing. You can learn more Ashley and her writing over at her blog, Three to Five a Day.