It seems like common sense but washing and maintaining your Gi is more important than most think. When you are new to Jiu Jitsu you may get a deal that includes a free Gi when you sign up. If not, you’re shelling out somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 or more for your new uniform. If you’re training no Gi, that number is even higher. One quickly learns that if you train multiple times a week the constant wash and repeat cycle seems never ending. Some solve this problem by buying an additional Gi or two (when budget allows). With that type of investment, knowing how to properly treat your Gis right can allow them to last a few years but there are some important differences from regular clothes that you should keep in mind.
Wash your Gi, rash guard or no Gi attire as soon as possible after training. This is a sport where you will sweat a lot. With sweat come funk and if you don’t wash your Gi right away it will get funky pretty quick and become almost impossible to get that smell out. Letting your Gi sit also creates the perfect environment for bacteria, yeast and fungus to grow. An important difference between BJJ attire and regular clothes is that Gis need to be washed inside out and with cold water. This will prevent shrinkage and preserve patches or screen printing. Also, never use bleach on your Gi, even if there is blood on it, because it will break down the fibers and shorten the life of your Gi.
Do not use your dryer or dry in direct sunlight. The most common mistake made by new practitioners is throwing their new Gi into the dryer. Because of the material (cotton) and tight weave of a Gi they tend to absorb a lot of water and even preshrunk Gis will shrink. You don’t want to show up to your next training session looking like you ordered a shmedium. Instead hang dry it in a well-ventilated area to speed up drying. If you have a small fan, you can use that on a low setting to shorten drying time.
Belts. Belts are another topic which needs to be discussed. There are many different opinions on belt washing. Some say wash your belt once after you receive it, some say never wash your belt while others wash their belt occasionally. If asking our opinion, we would recommend the last option. Belts do not get nearly the amount of dirt or sweat on them that Gis do but they are made of cotton and thus susceptible to bacterial, fungal and yeast growth. Washing occasionally will help reduce the chance of getting or passing on a skin infection. One exception to the occasional wash is if you come in contact with someone with an active skin infection. If this is the case throw everything in the wash including the belt to ensure pathogenic colonization does not occur.
Don’t be the stinky one on the mat. No one likes to roll around with someone who smells like a dirty sock. It’s a matter of respect not only for yourself but also your training partners. No one wants a skin infection and washing your Gi after every roll and showering with a good BJJ soap shows your commitment to everyone. If you are looking for a good laundry soap that won’t break down your Gi prematurely we recommend Rockin Green Active Wear Laundry Detergent. To sanitize your Gi without worrying about ruining the fabric or color Lysol Laundry Sanitizer is a great option.