Personal hygiene is crucial for a sport with constant body-to-body contact like BJJ. This includes clean bodies and apparel to minimize the chance of nasty bacteria spreading and causing serious problems. Foul odors can also be prevented mainly by keeping yourself and your training apparel in pristine condition.
While I am not going to teach you how to take a shower, with this article, I will help you learn how to wash a BJJ gi properly so it stays fresh and well maintained so you are presentable while trying to rip off someone’s limbs.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu gi is the most critical piece of equipment you wear on the mats, and taking good care of it will make your training partners and your budget happy. Washing the gi is simple enough; you need to follow some simple steps and avoid a few things that may destroy it.
Wash the Gi As Soon As You Can
The best option is to wash the gi after each training session and as soon as possible. Letting the sweat, funk, and bacteria sink in makes it harder to clean afterward. If you cannot wash the gi immediately after training, leave it to air out, preferably hanging in open air.
The worst thing is to let the wet fabric roll up in the gym bag, where bacteria will grow quicker than you can imagine. The smell alone will be enough to persuade you never to repeat this mistake if you do it.
While washing the gi after each session is recommended, this is not always necessary. If it’s winter or you’ve had a light technical session without sweating a lot, washing is unnecessary. But leaving the gi to air out is mandatory regardless of the intensity of the training.
Read the instructions– The first step before washing is to check the instructions. As obvious as this is, some people skip the step. Most gis are cotton and are handled similarly, but it never hurts to see what the manufacturer advises.
Turn the gi inside out. First, dust off the gi from any loose particles by shaking it outside. Then turn it inside out before washing. This step will protect patches and stitches and increase the gi’s overall longevity. It also slightly lowers the mileage of the fabric, which can be damaged in a washing machine.
Secure the drawstring- Secure the drawstring on the pants before putting them in a washing machine, or else it can get caught in other clothing or disappear inside the waistband.
Washing The Gi In A Washing Machine
Always wash the gi in cold water, as hot water will shrink the fabric. The highest you can go is 40 degrees which is not exactly cold, but it’s cool enough to wash cotton gis properly without inducing shrinkage or discoloration. I prefer using 30 degrees water to ensure the gi will be the same size when it gets out of the washing machine.
Choose high-quality mild detergents which will not damage the fabric. An absolute law is never to use bleach even if your gi is white. You won’t have to worry about discoloration in this case, but bleach is too harsh and will damage the fabric.
The best way to dry a gi is to let it air dry. Drying machines operate at high temperatures, and even on the lower setting can cause shrinkage, so hanging the gi to dry in the open is the best solution. But also avoid letting it stay for a long time in direct sunlight.
Hanging it turned inside out will also prevent discoloration and fading caused by the sunlight.
If you are in a cold place, drying a gi outside is mission impossible, so using a heater or fan will is a possible solution. Again, avoid direct exposure to the heat source and use a chair or something else instead.
Most of the steps for handwashing a gi are the same as in the machine-washing section. Use cold weather, good detergent, avoid bleach, and turn the gi inside out.
But a new step is to soak the gi for some time before washing. The soaking should be in cold water for at least 5 minutes, but even an hour can be necessary to break up any dirt or stains.
Then, using your hands, rub the fabric against itself and pay special attention to smelly or tough spots. Rinse the gi well to ensure all the detergent is washed off, and then gently squeeze out the water from the fabric. Finally, dry the gi as you would if it was machine washed.
The BJJ gelt also needs to be washed, although I don’t think as often as the gi, despite that this is the common advice. Belts should be washed separately from the gi following the same steps- cold water and no bleach (unless you want to be a white belt forever).
How To Shrink a Gi
Until now, we’ve talked about how to avoid shrinkage, so why would you want to do it intentionally? Almost all gis come in preshrunk, but this does not mean they do not shrink further. This is why the common advice is to buy one in the larger size, and if it remains too big, you can shrink it to measure later.
Generally, if you want to shrink your gi, do the opposite of the normal washing instructions. Wash it with hot water and then air dry. If it’s still not the fit you want, use a machine washer and start from a lower setting. If the results are still not optimal, you can resort to higher temperatures, which will further shrink the fabric.
Do the process gradually and follow all the instructions for normal washing once it fits properly.
Frequently Asked BJJ Gi Washing Questions
Can I Put My GI In A Washing Machine
Yes, most people wash their BJJ gis in a washing machine. It’s important to remember always to use cold water and air dry the uniform. This way, you will prevent shrinkage and discoloration and generally be able to keep the gi in good condition for longer.
How to Wash a Gi for the First Time
Washing a gi for the first time is like washing a gi in general. However, you can expect some shrinkage even if you follow the instructions to the letter just because this is the nature of the fabrics used in the BJJ uniform.
How Often Should You Wash Your BJJ Gi?
Preferably after each training session, so you prevent bacteria from developing and spreading and stains from settling in. But depending on the climate you train and live in and the intensity of workouts washing every time may not be necessary or realistic. But I recommend washing the gi at least once a week if you train more than once.
Can You Wash Your Gi With Other Clothes?
Yes, but if you do it, it has to be with clothes of the same color. White gis should only be washed with white clothes, and darker gis go with similar color palettes. Otherwise, you risk color runoff from one item to another.
How To Remove Stains From A GI
You need to soak the gi to remove stubborn stains that won’t come off from regular washing. Pure cold water may not do the trick, so try with warm water. Be careful not to use hot water, just warm. Some special detergents are also excellent in treating stains, but ensure they do not include any heavy chemicals that can damage or discolor the gi.
How To Remove Foul Smell From A GI
Once a gi starts to smell bad, it’s hard to get rid of it for good, but not impossible. A common method is to make a 25% white vinegar and 75% water mixture and soak the gi for at least 5 hours. Then wash, rinse, and dry as usual.
Washing a BJJ is simple and straightforward. By airing out the gi immediately after coming from practice and following the simple instructions provided in the article and likely from the manufacturer. With good care and maintenance, you will look great, smell great, and not have to buy new is too often.