How To Properly Wash Your Thermal Base Layers

How To Properly Wash Your Thermal Base Layers

Way before you smell the odor emitting from your athletic base layer clothing, it’s time for a wash. Washing base layers correctly is the only way to retain their incredible qualities. Simply tossing items in the washer without understanding the necessary steps risks ruining your favorite base layers. Continue reading about how to properly wash your thermal base layers and some additional care tips!

What Are Base Layers Made Out Of?

Most exercise clothing consists of synthetic materials. They’re designed to wick moisture and create a cooling effect on the skin. Base layers function similarly.

At Hot Chillys, we make our base layer clothing from a blend of durable polyester and a small percentage of spandex for an easy fit.

Steps to Properly Washing Thermal Base Layers

When you follow these efficient steps to wash your base layers, you can make sure your base layers withstand several years of outdoor activities!

Step 1: Separate Clothing by Color

Firstly, separate the clothing into different loads by color. If you wash all colors together, you risk darker clothes bleeding onto whites and lighter clothing items.

Washing polyester clothing together is most effective rather than mixing your base layers with materials like cotton and denim. You don’t want to risk damaging either type of material.

Step 2: Treat the Stains

Before placing base layers in the washing machine, you should always treat any stains. When simply tossing clothes into the washer, the stain is more likely to not entirely disappear.

Any gentle stain remover will effectively remove any unwanted spots. Spray the solution onto the stain and gently rub the affected area. Add cold water to create suds on the stain. If needed, you can add more solution, then continue scrubbing until the stain disappears. Before tossing it in the washer, rinse away the solution, so it doesn’t leave soap residue.

Step 3: Machine Wash Cold

Thermal base layers are safe to put in the washing machine. Nonetheless, if you run the washing cycle using warm or hot water, you risk breaking down the garment’s fibers. The most effective way to clean thermal base layers is to run the machine using cold water.

You can run it on a normal or delicate cycle, depending on your preference. Pair the cycle with a detergent that rinses clean.

Step 4: Tumble Dry Low

Once the washing cycle ends, it’s time to dry the clothing. Polyester easily removes moisture from its fibers.

Considering each of these factors, the best way to avoid damaging the clothing’s quality is to place the dryer on a low heat setting. Allow the dryer to run for about 30 minutes. You want to remove the clothing while it’s still slightly damp to minimize static and wrinkles.

Products To Avoid

Some products are not recommended to use on synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon and will ruin your base layers.

Fabric Softener

Firstly, many people use fabric softeners to remove wrinkles, minimize static, and make clothing feel incredibly soft. It’s meant to soothe the fibers and creates soft clothing. Nonetheless, fabric softener is a threat to polyester and nylon.

When materials should wick moisture, fabric softeners can reduce the effectiveness of the materials. Instead of the high-quality base layers you once knew, if you use fabric softener, it will become a simple long-sleeve top that doesn’t supply various benefits when exercising. Fabric softener coats the fibers of the fabric, leaving it unable to do what it needs to move moisture.


Bleach is another product to avoid for synthetic materials. The spandex in your base layers can be harmed by bleach, leaving them with less or no stretch.

Hang Up To Dry

As mentioned in the final step of cleaning base layers, drying the clothes at a low temperature is one of the most effective ways to care for your base layers.

When you leave damp clothing in the dryer, it’s more likely to wrinkle as it sits balled up with other clothes. Remove the items promptly at the end of the drying cycle on low heat. They’ll still be slightly damp.

If you see a few wrinkles present, there’s a way to fix them without adding heat! Lay the clothing items flat on a drying rack or hang them on a hanger. As they air dry, the fabric will gradually release the wrinkles. Our base layers function with or without wrinkles and most of them won't even show wrinkles.

Avoid Ironing or Steaming Thermal Base Layers

You don't need to!

How Often Should You Wash Base Layers?

Perhaps you’re spending several days in a row participating in outdoor activities. You didn’t bring enough base layers to last you through the trip. While you plan to re-wear the layers without washing, it’s recommended to wash base layers between each use.

Oil and sweat build up within the fibers. It diminishes the quality of the material while decreasing the base layer’s effectiveness. When you wear it on several occasions without washing, you’ll experience more discomfort, like sweat accumulation and misshapen clothing.

After each use, follow the abovementioned steps to properly wash your thermal base layer clothing. You’ll get the most out of your base layers and extend the life of the materials.

Keep your thermals clean all season long and they'll look and work their best when you need them.

Photo by Tina Bosse on Unsplash