Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing

Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing - Lead Image

As cyclists, we know a thing or two about smelly athletic clothes. With lots of sweat and constant usage, it’s inevitable that our favorite bike clothes are going to get smelly beyond what we thought humanly possible. But don’t despair (or retire your clothes yet), all hope is not lost! You can wash even the stinkiest of cycling apparel and have it smelling fresh again.

To begin, here’s our favorite recipe for homemade laundry detergent. We use this on all of our clothes, all of the time. We love it because it’s fragrance free, super inexpensive per load, and easy to make at home. You should be able to get all of these ingredients at your local grocery store too. If they don’t have it all, try another store or online because sometimes the selection varies depending on the store.


  • 4 cups hot tap water (to start)
  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda – must be sodium bicarbonate)
  • ½ cup 20 Mule Team Borax


  1. Grate the bar of soap and add it to a saucepan with the water.
  2. Stir continuously over medium-low heat until the soap dissolves.
  3. Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.
  4. Add the melted soap, washing soda, and borax.
  5. Stir well until all powder is dissolved.
  6. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water.
  7. Stir, cover, and let sit overnight to thicken.


  • Top load washer – use ¼ cup
  • Front load washer – use 2-3 tablespoons

Now, that’s the regular recipe for the detergent which you can use in place of your normal detergent. For super smelly bike clothes, there’s a few other tricks you may need to do in addition to get your clothes smelling fresh again.

Depending on what you have at home, you can try one of the two following options:

  • Add baking soda to the wash.

    This is a great natural method and most people have a box of baking soda in their cabinet. This is a good way to use up an old box of baking soda that you’ve had open for awhile. Simply add a cup of baking soda in with your bike or gym clothes in addition to the normal amount of detergent.

  • Pre-soak with vinegar.

    Another natural method, add a cup of vinegar to your washing machine as it fills (or before, if you have a front loader), and wash your clothes on a pre-wash or delicate cycle with cold water. After that’s completed, wash your clothes as you normally would with warm water and detergent. Alternatively, you can soak your gym clothes in one part white distilled vinegar and four parts cold water for 30 minutes or so before washing.

Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing - Fels Natural Soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing - Grated Fels Soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing - Melted Soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing -  5 Gallon Bucket

Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing - Thickening Soap

Homemade Laundry Detergent For Smelly Athletic Clothing - Thickened Soap

We hope that combination of detergent and additional deodorizer brings your well-loved bike clothes back from the brink and can keep them going well into the future. If your favorite bike clothes are beyond saving, check out our bike apparel and pick yourself up a fresh kit.

We want to hear from you! Did you try the recipe and deodorization techniques? How did it turn out? Let us know in the comments below.


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