Emma Lovewell's Laundry Hack Will Keep Your Smelly Workout Clothes Fresh & Clean
When I hop on the bike with Peloton's Emma Lovewell, her easygoing attitude, motivational stories, and karaoke-worthy playlists always distract me from how hard her rides are. My clothes are not as easily fooled. After 30 minutes with Lovewell, my smelly, sweat-stained athleisure always reminds me: Her workouts are tough!
When I recently got the chance to chat with the fan-favorite instructor, I had to know how she keeps her gear in tiptop shape, climb after climb. Here are the secret ingredients and no-fail practices she turns to each laundry day.
How Emma Lovewell keeps her athleisure cleaner, longer.
The first step of keeping her athleisure fresh after a sweaty workout is letting it breathe. "If I have sweaty clothes, I never let them sit in a ball of sweat," Lovewell explains, adding that air-drying clothes right away will prevent some stains and stinkiness down the line.
"If I go to the studio and bring home clothes, I have a mesh bag that I put clothes in so they at least breathe," she adds. That way, they'll be in better shape by the time laundry day rolls around.
She'll typically do laundry once a week, on a Sunday, batching it with other chores that she enjoys more, like watering her plants. "I have set this nice routine for myself that feels good. I'm like taking care of housework but also checking in on my plants and making sure they're doing well." (This approach is clearly working out for the greenery-loving instructor; her orchids have just rebloomed for the first time in her life, her vegetable garden is growing, and she's got a garden compost system in the works.)
On Sundays, Lovewell will wash all her workout clothes (usually not bothering to separate whites and darks) in warm water with a splash of her go-to laundry detergent from 9 Elements—a simple solution of time-tested vinegar that's been amped up with other powerful cleaning agents like citric acid.
While Lovewell notes that she's had to throw out leggings and sports bras in the past because of odors, she hasn't had to toss anything since switching over. "The vinegar laundry detergent actually combats that smell so my fitness clothes last a lot longer... It's just a stronger product, but it's still simple," she says. She also appreciates that the addition of essential oils makes the detergent smell great, and it's made with a short list of no more than nine ingredients (hence the name!).
Another bonus of vinegar-based cleaners is their ability to combat hard-water stains. As up to 85% of U.S. homeowners with hard water will know, the excess metals in hard water can build up on fabrics, leading to color fading, yellow underarm stains, and dingy whites. The acidity in the vinegar will help break down these mineral deposits and promote more vibrant, even coloring. It's also effective at tackling soap scum in other parts of the home, like glassware, so Lovewell will use 9 Elements' new foaming dish spray to hand-wash delicate items like wine glasses, too.
Beyond keeping her camera ready, using simple ingredients that don't harm the planet, like vinegar, also helps Lovewell prioritize sustainability at home. "My motto is progress, not perfection," she says. "So I'm always just trying to do the next thing that will help the planet."
Fitness clothes can be the hardest to wash—sometimes they need multiple rounds in the machine to undo the smell of the workout that came before them. But to avoid wasting water, energy, and time on the process, opt for a clean and simple yet powerful vinegar-based detergent, like the one from 9 Elements. Next time I finish one of Lovewell's rides, I know exactly how I'll be handling those sweaty post-bike clothes.
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.