You’ve done it. You went out and got a beautiful new gi, complete with all the bells and whistles. You’ve imagined what it will look like when you’re on the podium, having won gold in the world champs. It’s wonderful.
Gis don’t stay nice and shiny for long, though. After a few training sessions, and a few rolls of getting gripped and ripped from all directions, you can expect it to be pretty well broken in. And chances are, it will be doused with a fair share of sweat and other unspeakable liquids. Meaning it’s going to need a wash, sooner rather than later.
Washing of gis can be a touchy subject. Many people have their own opinion on how it should be done. Do it wrong, and you’re going to be buying a lot of new gis in a short space of time.
Here’s how to do it the right way, so your beautiful gi lasts to be with you on the world championship podium.
“Do I really need to wash my gi?”
Let’s get this out of the way first, in case it wasn’t clear.
You absolutely need to wash your gi. Every academy has their own person who thinks they can get away with not washing their gi properly. They’re the person no one wants to roll with, because the smell is too bad.
If you don’t know who this person is in your school… it might be you!
BJJ is an incredibly strenuous, physical sport, and with all the sweat and everything else flying around, there’s no excuse for not washing your gi. Besides the smell, a gi can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can grow into nasty customers like ringworm, staph and MRSA.
Don’t be the person who causes an outbreak at your gym. Wash your gi.
Washing a New Gi
When you first get a new gi, it’s a good idea to wash it before your first use. Gis almost always shrink on the first wash, which should be taken into account when you pick the size. Always get a gi that’s a little bit bigger than you need, to allow for this.
Wash your gi on its own for the first time, in warm water. This will help it naturally shrink to its proper size.
Depending on the fit, you might also want to tumble dry it if you need to shrink it more. Be careful, though, not to use too much heat. Keep it to a low-power low-heat dry cycle. Too much could ruin your gi before you even get the chance to use it.
How to Wash Your Gi – The Right Way!
Here are a few tips to remember for you to ensure your gi lasts as long as possible.
Wash with cold water
Outside of your first wash, you should always wash in cold water.
Hot water will cause your gi to shrink more, which could end up being a very uncomfortable fit.
Not only that, the heat also weakens the fabric, meaning your gi won’t last as long before starting to fall apart.
Gis can last a long, long time, if you care for them properly. Otherwise, you’ll end up needing to shell out for a new gi every year, which is not ideal.
Getting stains out (don’t use bleach!)
Never use bleach when you wash your gi. This is really important.
Using bleach will weaken your fabric. The BJJ gi is made to be strong and durable. Without this, your gi won’t last very long. Your partner will end up with a handful of fabric next time they go to take a grip on your gi, and you’ll end up with more holes in it than there’s supposed to be.
You will get stains, especially if you’ve got a white gi. Blood and sweat stains can happen. As can… others…
The best solution for stains is to treat them straight away, by running the affected area under cold water and scrubbing. Vinegar and baking soda can also be used to treat stubborn stains and smells that won’t go away.
Aside from your first wash, you shouldn’t tumble dry your gi (even then, be sure to do it on a light cycle).
Hang drying will ensure your gi last longer – several tumble dries each week add up quick, and break down your fabric before long.
Try to hang it out of the sun, though. Direct sunlight will dry your gi out, and weaken the fabric as well. DEFINITELY don’t hang it in the sun without washing. This will bake the sweat into your gi, and it will be good night Irene for your prized new kimono.
Wash it ASAP
The longer you take before washing, the harder it will be to get rid of stains and odors, and the more likely it will be for bacteria to develop.
The worst thing you can do is to ball your gi up, throw it in your gym bag and forget about it. This creates the perfect conditions for nasty bacteria. Same goes for your car, or any other confined space where your gi doesn’t have the chance to breathe.
Washing Your Gi – In Summary
It can’t be stressed enough how important good hygiene is. Not washing your gi regularly is a surefire way to spread bad smells, dodgy stains and, worst of all, bacteria. It doesn’t take much, just an understanding that it is a basic part of training BJJ.