How to Wash a Gi, a Detailed Guide
Knowing how to wash a gi is key if you regularly practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Not only do you want to take special care of this integral garment, but chances are it can get pretty dirty. After a BJJ match, your gi is likely covered in sweat, dirt, and oils that you'll need to wash out.
However, taking proper care of this BJJ garment is about more than just a quick toss in the washer and dryer. If you want to know how to wash a gi so that it lasts, you'll need to take a few precautions.
What Is a Gi?
A gi is a uniform worn by many martial artists, including those who practice karate, jiu-jitsu, aikido, and judo. This classic cotton uniform consists of a pair of loose-fitting drawstring pants and a jacket, often tied with a belt.
BJJ also uses belts to mark each person's skill level. As you move through the ranks, you will first have a white, then blue, then purple, then brown, and finally a black belt.
How to Wash a Gi
Knowing how to wash a gi properly will help it last longer and look newer. Since this garment is 100 percent cotton, it is always at risk of shrinking. That's why it is essential to follow these steps carefully to preserve your gi.
Pre-treating is a crucial step in how to wash a gi. By carefully treating stains before washing, you ensure your gi will last longer. You can use a traditional stain treatment, although many of the pros recommend a proper soak in vinegar before washing.
Begin by turning your gi inside out. That will preserve any sewn-on patches, decals, and even the stitching itself. Then simply add everything into the washing machine, including your gi, compression shorts, rash guard, cup, and jockstrap.
Add 1 to 2 cups of white vinegar and warm water into the washing machine. Take care to pour the vinegar onto especially hard-to-clean places such as the collar and armpits of the jacket and the crotch of the pants. Allow this to sit for several hours, even overnight, if possible.
Many washers have a pre-soak or rinse setting that allows you to leave the gi to soak as long as necessary. If not, you can fill the machine partially with water then stop mid-cycle. You can also complete the soaking process in a tub, bucket, or sink as well.
Before washing, add a cup of baking soda and a small amount of laundry detergent. Be careful not to add too much detergent, as this can actually make it harder to get the gi clean.
After pre-treating your gi, the next step in how to wash a gi is to run it through a full washing machine cycle. It is key that you only wash using cool or slightly warm water.
The collar on many gis contains rubber to keep it stiff and intact. Because of this, using very warm or hot water could actually melt the collar. Never use water any hotter than 100 degrees.
It is best to run the gi through a delicate or handwash cycle. Avoid fabric softener, which can leave a coating on your gi that makes it harder to dry and prevents it from resisting moisture.
If you do not have a washing machine, you can also handwash your gi with mild detergent. Just be sure to rinse and wring it out completely, so it dries in a reasonable amount of time.
Though it does not need to be washed as frequently, your BJJ belt also needs to be washed in a similar manner every so often.
Everyone who knows how to wash a gi will tell you never to put it in the dryer. The high heat will melt the collar of the jacket and actually weaken the fabric of the garment itself. Not to mention the fact the cotton will shrink considerably under the hot heat of the dryer.
Instead, it is best to hang your gi to dry. Use either an indoor clothesline or drying rack for the best results. Be sure to keep your gi in an area free from moisture.
If possible, it may be wise to run a dehumidifier or small electric fan as well. That can speed up the drying process without using heat.
As your gi dries, be sure to check on it often. That way, you can rotate or move it on the drying rack, so each section dries equally.
What Not to Do When Washing Your Gi
While knowing how to wash a gi is important, knowing what not to do is vital, as well.
We have already mentioned that you should not use very hot water or a dryer on your gi. However, did you know that drying your gi in the sun can be damaging as well? It will dry out the fibers and make your gi less durable.
You also want to avoid chlorine bleach at all costs. Bleach will damage the fabric and even cause yellowing over time. While you may be tempted to use bleach as a stain remover, your best bet is to try other stain removing methods.
We've told you how to wash a gi, but what about keeping it from wrinkling? Cotton can be a tricky fabric to keep wrinkles out of. Even so, you do not want to use an iron on your gi.
Aside from the damage caused to the aforementioned rubber collar, an iron will also damage the gi's fabric fibers over time. Instead, smooth your gi while it is still wet, and keep it wrinkle-free while air drying.
Get Your Gi Sparkling
Now that you know how to wash a gi, you'll never be stuck in a dirty, stinky situation again. Although this special garment does require careful care, it is worth it knowing you're preserving an essential part of BJJ.
The pros will tell you, a clean gi shows respect for your master, your opponent, your sport, and even yourself.
Have any tips for how to wash a gi that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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