How to Wash Gym Towels (With & Without Bleach)

Washing gym towels with bleach means using bleach in addition to or in place of detergent to remove tough stains, kill bacteria and eliminate odors. Washing towels without bleach means you’re relying solely on regular laundry detergent for cleaning. 

In general, it’s recommended that you wash gym towels with bleach when dealing with tough stains, when odors are an issue or when they need to be disinfected. Most of the time, you’ll want to wash your towels without bleach for regular maintenance. This can help protect against sensitive skin concerns and preserve colors.

How to Wash Gym Towels with Bleach

Washing gym towels with bleach is a great way to remove tough stains, eliminate odors and kill bacteria. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Separate your gym towels from other laundry items.

  2. Pretreat any stubborn stains on the towels with a small amount of undiluted liquid bleach or a professional stain remover.

  3. Place the towels in the washing machine, and add the recommended amount of bleach (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup for a regular load) to the bleach dispenser. Use color-safe bleach if your towels are not white.

  4. Add your regular laundry detergent as well to boost overall cleaning power.

  5. Select a regular or heavy-duty wash cycle with hot water.

  6. Start the wash cycle. After it’s done, run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all traces of bleach and detergent are washed away. This is optional, but it’s a good idea. It can help protect sensitive skin, ensuring residual bleach doesn’t come into contact with skin. 

  7. Dry your gym towels as usual, generally with a dryer.

How to Wash Gym Towels Without Bleach 

Keeping gym towels clean without using bleach is also a simple process. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Separate your gym towels from other laundry to avoid transferring dirt or bacteria.

  2. For tough stains, apply a bit of liquid detergent directly to the stain, rub gently and let it sit before washing. You can also use a professional stain remover.

  3. Put the towels in the washing machine, making sure you do not overload it.

  4. Use the recommended amount of laundry detergent. Consider using odor-fighting detergent for smelly towels.

  5. For white towels, use a regular or heavy-duty wash cycle with hot water. For colored towels, opt for cold or warm water to prevent fading.

  6. Dry the towels as usual. 

When to Wash Gym Towels with or Without Bleach 

Knowing when to wash gym towels with or without bleach depends on factors like towel condition, level of soiling and personal preferences. Here are some guidelines to help you decide:

Washing Gym Towels with Bleach

  • Tough stains: If your gym towels have stubborn stains, especially from sweat, makeup or mud, bleach can be beneficial. Bleach helps to break down and remove tough stains effectively.

  • Odor issues: If your gym towels develop persistent unpleasant odors even after regular washing, using bleach occasionally can help eliminate the odor-causing bacteria.

  • Disinfecting: Bleach is a powerful disinfectant that can kill bacteria and germs effectively. If you’re concerned about hygiene or have been using your towels for intense workouts, using bleach occasionally can provide an extra level of cleanliness.

Washing Gym Towels Without Bleach

  • Regular maintenance: For routine washes and general maintenance of your gym towels, using regular laundry detergent without bleach is sufficient. This will keep them clean and fresh without the need for harsher chemicals with every wash.

  • Sensitive skin: If you or your family members have sensitive skin or allergies, bleach may cause skin irritation. In such cases, it’s better to stick to detergent-only washing.

  • Color preservation: If your gym towels are colored or have printed designs, bleach may fade or damage the colors. In this situation, opt for detergent-only washing to maintain the towels’ appearance, or you can experiment with color-safe bleach.

  • Environmental concerns: Some people prefer to avoid using bleach due to its environmental impact. 

How To Know When To Buy New Gym Towels

In some cases, you’ll simply need to buy new gym towels. Here are some signs that it’s time to get new towels:

  • Worn out or thin: If your towels have holes, thin spots or feel worn out, it’s time for replacements.

  • Persistent bad smell: If your towels smell bad even after washing, it’s a clear sign to buy new ones. Old towels can harbor bacteria and mildew.

  • Tough stains: If stains won’t budge, new towels might be needed. Old stains can be hard to remove.

  • Less absorbent: If your towels no longer soak up sweat like before, they might be too old to be effective.

  • Rough and irritating: As towels age, they can become rough and scratchy on your skin.

  • Faded colors: If your towels’ colors have faded a lot, it’s time for fresh ones.

How Alsco Can Manage Your Gym Towels

In a professional gym, it’s imperative that towels are fresh, clean and in good condition. If your gym towels are stinky, worn, ratty or stained, your members will notice quickly. Managing your gym towel inventory can take serious work, however.

Let Alsco be your partner in towel care, and join our community today. With our top-quality towels and consistent service, we take care of your towels’ laundering so you don’t have to. Call today to learn more about our linen services. We will ensure your towels are always clean, bright and fresh.


Using Bleach in Laundry. American Cleaning Institute.

How To Use Bleach in Laundry the Right Way. May 2023. Real Simple. 

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