Laundry – the magic process where socks disappear, white undies turn pink, and gis shrink down a size or two.
Spending a lot of money on a new gi, and inadvertently ruining it in the wash can be very frustrating. Proper care for your gi is important, and it is not all that complicated.
Here are the most common gi care questions we receive from our customers.
1. How do I wash my gi?
Try to wash your gi as soon as you get home from training, if possible. If your gi has visible stains, pretreat them first. Gis should be washed in cold water to avoid excessive shrinkage. Colored gis should be washed inside out to prevent the color fading unevenly due to the gi rubbing against the machine. Don’t pack too many gis in one load, and always use recommended amount of detergent. Too much of it won’t rinse out, and too little won’t do the job. Always check the manufacturer’s label for washing instructions, and if you are not sure what each label means, check out this handy chart.
In the weaving process cotton fibers are stretched, and twisted under high tension. In hot water, and dryer the molecules want to return to their original, relaxed state. That is why cotton shrinks, and heat should be avoided. Generally, looser weaves tend to shrink more, tighter weaves shrink less. Most gis on the market are 95-96% preshrunk, so some shrinkage, even in cold water should is expected. In order to maintain the length and shape of the gi, stretch out the sleeves, lapels, and pants after every wash when the gi is wet.
Do not wash the gi in hot water or dry in high heat; it will shrink! If you want to shrink your gi intentionally, please wash in hot water, and dry in the dryer until desired length, and width is achieved.
2. How often should I wash my gi?
You should wash your gi after every training session. Try to wash your gi as soon as you get home from training. We understand that this is not always possible, and some people do laundry once a week. The sooner you wash it, the better. If your gis are extremely soiled, and stains are set in, you may have to do some serious spot cleaning, and soaking before washing. Do not leave your gi in your gear bag to marinate for days. It will develop a strong, pungent smell that will be harder, and harder to get rid of.
3. I barely got sweaty in training; I was only drilling technique. Do I still need to wash the gi?
Yes, please. Even though you didn’t sweat, your training partner may have sweated on you. It’s a good habit to have to wash your gi after every class. If you had no contact with another person, and only observed the class from the bench then you can skip the wash.
4. I’m really busy. Can I wash my white gi and colored gi together?
White and colored gis should not be washed together no matter how busy you are otherwise your bright white gi ends up looking sadly dingy. Colored gis can be washed together. Think of gis just like laundry. Separate them the same way you would your other clothing items.
5. My friend said that I needed a special BJJ gi detergent. Is this true?
No, you don’t need a special detergent. Any detergent that you have at home is fine. However, if you want to support a company that makes a special BJJ gi detergent, please do.
6. I haven’t washed my gis as often as I should have, and they are smelling funky. How do I get rid of the smell?
When washing a foul-smelling gi, try adding 1/2-1 cup of vinegar to the water, soak for 15 minutes, then wash with detergent. If needed, add more vinegar during rinse cycle. Washing soda, lemon, and baking soda are also good options for tackling nasty smells. Do not put smelly gis in the dryer, the heat will make it almost impossible to get rid of the odor later on. Turn the gi inside out, and hang it outside to dry. And don’t forget to clean your gym bag regularly. What’s the point of cleaning your gis when you carry them around in a rotten bag?
7. My training partner bled on my white gi. How do I remove the stains?
Try to remove as much of the blood as possible with cold water immediately during or after class. Do not let the stain set it; dried blood stains are harder to remove than fresh ones. At home wet the spot again, and rub it with some dish soap or laundry detergent. Let the cleaner work on the stain for about 15-30 minutes. The stain should be gone. If the stain remains, put a little bit of hydrogen peroxide or diluted ammonia (one tablespoon ammonia per one cup of water) directly on the stain; let it set for a few more minutes, and then wash the gi. For heavily set in stains you may have to repeat the steps two to three times.
8. I read that you should freeze your jeans instead of washing them to prolong their life and kill bacteria. Should I do the same with my gi?
Freezing clothes does not kill bacteria or clean them so we do not recommend doing it. Keep the freezer for ice packs, and wash your gis!
9. Should I iron my gi?
If you have too much free time in your hands, and if you find great pleasure in ironing, yes. However, be careful with patches, some of them may stick to the iron.
10. What is the best detergent for gis?
Whatever detergent is on sale that week or whatever you use for your other laundry needs is good for gis. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to make your own laundry detergent with only three ingredients: borax, bar soap, and washing soda.
11. I like my whites really white. Is it safe to bleach my white gi?
Chlorine bleach is not recommended because it weakens the fabric, and also ruins the embroidery and patches. Instead, try oxygen bleach which brightens but does not break down cloth. You may also try old-fashioned bluing which gives whites the snow-white brightness. The photo below displays two white gis; however one has a slightly yellow hue, the other looks bluish. When you look at them side by side the color difference is quite obvious but looking at them separately both gis look perfectly white.