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How to Properly Wash Your Sports Jersey

You just scored that game-winning shot, and your jersey is soaked in sweat, grime, and glory. It’s time to get it cleaned up, but you’re not sure how to go about it. Don’t fret—we’ve got your back.

Washing a jersey is more complex than tossing it into the washing machine. There’s a particular technique to it. Whether it’s your prized NBA jersey, an NFL hockey jersey gear, or your little league uniform, we’ll guide you through the steps to keep it looking sharp and fresh.

So, before you ruin that jersey with a careless wash, read on. This guide will help you understand the do’s and don’ts of jersey washing, ensuring your favorite sports gear remains in top-notch condition.

Gather Your Supplies

Gather all necessary supplies before starting the washing process. Trust us, it’ll save you time and improve the washing procedure.

First things first—you’ll need a mild detergent. Avoid using standard and robust detergents, which are often too harsh for sports jerseys. Instead, go for a delicate fabric cleanser like Woolite. It’s designed to clean your sports gear smoothly without damaging fabric or colors.

Next, grab some color-safe bleach. Don’t let the word ‘bleach’ scare you. Color-safe bleach is fantastic for preserving the vibrant colors of your jersey, not whitening it. It will help you eliminate stubborn stains without impacting the jersey’s color.

Soft bristle brush—a must-have tool for spot cleaning. Remember, sports gear often gets quite dirty and stained, so a soft bristle brush can be an excellent ally in your cleaning process.

In addition to these, get hold of a bucket or a sink, especially if the jersey is dirty or features complex embroidery. Avoid washing machines in such scenarios, as they harm your sports gear.

Lastly, remember to have a drying rack, hanger, and clean towels at hand. These will be necessary to dry the jersey after washing it.

Take a moment to ensure you’ve got everything. You’ll be ready to start the jersey-cleaning process as soon as you’ve gathered your supplies.


Now that you’ve gathered your essentials let’s dive deeper into the pre-washing stage. This critical step can make all the difference when tackling tough stains or ground-in dirt. Remember, the goal isn’t just to clean but also to preserve your favorite jersey’s look and feel.

Start by checking the jersey for any noticeable signs of dirt or stains. If present, these areas will need extra attention and a pre-wash treatment, according to Columbia University’s Go Ask Alice Forum. You’re not just looking for obvious dirt or grass stains. Also, check for things like food stains, perspiration marks, or even areas where the jersey’s color seems dull or faded.

Before applying any treatment, you’ll want to pre-soak the jersey in cold water. The temperature is important here. Cold water is best for sports jerseys, as it’ll prevent any existing stains from setting further. Let the jersey soak for about 30 minutes to an hour.

Then, apply a mild detergent directly to any stains. Use a soft bristle brush for spot cleaning to gently work the detergent into the stain. Be sure not to scrub too hard, as this could damage the fabric. Glide the brush over the stain, allowing the bristles to penetrate and loosen the dirt.

To retain the vibrant colors on your sports jersey, use color-safe bleach. Pour a small amount onto the stained area and gently dab with a clean towel. Again, it’s vital to avoid scrubbing. The goal is to let the bleach lift the stain, preserving the jersey’s color.

If your jersey is more soiled or has embroidery, consider soaking it for more time before proceeding with the full wash. Next, we’ll move on to the full washing process.

Remember the golden rule of jersey care: Handle with love. It’s not just a piece of clothing—it’s a piece of sports history. Each stain tells a story, and while we aim to clean them, we also want to keep the jersey in its best condition for years to come.

Check the Care Label

It is essential to look at the jersey’s care label before beginning the cleaning process. Tucked away on the sides or at the neck of your jersey, this often overlooked tag is packed with valuable information that can save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Make it a habit to check for this whenever you’re about to clean any garment.

Different manufacturers use different materials and dyes. The care label tends to contain crucial information on handling the jersey appropriately. Remember, how you wash your jerseys essentially factors into their lifespan, appearance, and feel.

Occasionally, the care label could indicate “Hand Wash Only” or “Do Not Machine Wash, ” meaning the jersey requires extra care. Remember to pay attention to these tags. They are there for a good reason, often because the material is delicate or the print is prone to peeling, fading, or shrinking.

On the other hand, if the label permits machine washing, it’ll specify the ideal temperature. It’s crucial to adhere to these instructions, as water temperature heavily influences color retention. According to New Mexico State University, hot water might cause colors to run and can shrink clothing. Therefore, cold water is usually recommended.

Some jerseys may also require that you turn them inside out before washing. This helps minimize the chance of colors running or logos peeling off. If this rule applies to your jersey, make sure to follow it.

Don’t hesitate to re-wash a jersey should its aroma persist after one wash. Sometimes, multiple washing is required to rid sportswear of body oils and odors. However, always maintain a gentle hand during these processes, as vigorous scrubbing and bending might ruin the fabric or embroidery.

Remember that understanding the care label is vital to keep your sports jersey looking and feeling fresh for longer. This is the secret to getting countless wears out of your favorite game-day gear without compromising quality.

Separate Colors

While it might seem intuitive, it’s essential to remind yourself – Do not mix colors.

It’s tempting to throw all your dirty clothes into the washing machine. You may be managing a tight schedule, have other household chores to finish, or just want to save some time. However, stopping momentarily to separate your sports jerseys from other clothes based on color is worth the effort.

Dark-colored jerseys, particularly those with vibrant reds, blues, blacks, and purples, tend to bleed color when washed for the first time. Mixing such jerseys with light-colored ones can result in undesirable color transfers. Fear not, though! There’s a simple way to prevent those beautiful hues from running wild.

Before washing your sports jerseys, sort them into two groups: light and dark. The lighter-colored jerseys are the whites, pinks, yellows, and other pastel shades. The dark group includes jerseys that are navy blue, black, red, or green. Once sorted, you should wash each group separately to avoid color bleeding between the two.

However, more than just color separation is needed. Some jerseys, especially those with specific team logos or names, may have intricate detailing using different colors. These multi-colored jerseys require more attention. Keep an eye on the details when tossing these jerseys with the rest. Ensure the detailing colors match the jersey’s dominant color, or wash it separately.

Lastly, jerseys use various materials within each color group, so be cautious about the effects of color bleeding on different fabrics. While cotton is sturdy, other fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, are less resilient. So, check the jersey’s material before washing it with others. If it’s a delicate fabric, consider washing it alone.

Remember, your sports jersey is not just a piece of clothing. It’s an emblem of your favorite team, representing your sporting spirit. So, treat it with the care it deserves, and it’ll preserve your precious game day memories for many seasons. If you take some time to separate your jerseys by color before washing, it’s a small price to pay to maintain the vibrant colors and enduring quality of your sports jerseys. So, go ahead and show your jersey the love it deserves. Your jersey will thank you.

Turn the Jersey Inside Out

Moving on, here’s an essential piece of advice that should be noticed: Turning the jersey inside out. Why is it critical to do this? What difference does it make? Let’s delve into this a bit more.

This simple act is your best defense against damage from rubbing, fading, and losing quality. When you turn your jersey inside out, you’re protecting the outer layer – the part everyone sees – from direct contact with other garments. This means your jersey’s logos, names, and numbers avoid unnecessary wear and friction, keeping them vibrant and intact for extended periods.

Did you know? Is the inside of your jersey designed to handle more friction than the outside? Yes, isn’t that a neat little tidbit of knowledge?

Furthermore, when you wash your sports jersey inside out, you directly target the residue from sweating. Your body’s oils and sweat predominantly come into contact with the inner side of the jersey, leading to odor and potential staining. Washing it inside out ensures that detergent directly contacts this grime, effectively lifting and eliminating it.

To turn your jersey inside out, follow these simple steps:

  • Hold your jersey by the bottom hem, with the front facing you.
  • Lift it and pull the jersey up through the neck hole.
  • Ensure all sleeves and corners get reversed.
  • Check that no parts are stuck or hidden inside and everything has been properly reversed.

Remember, this advice is not limited to jerseys. You can and should use this method to wash most of your clothing—particularly items with prints, logos, or other decorative elements.

When you follow the guidelines provided, you’re giving your sports jersey the best chance of surviving numerous washes without losing its quality. So, keep your jersey looking its best by turning it inside out before every wash.

Use the Right Temperature

Moving on to the washing process, the chosen water temperature could make or break your jersey’s longevity. It’s necessary to find the right balance. If it is too hot, you risk fading, shrinking, or damaging the fabric. It’s too cold, and you may not remove all the dirt and sweat effectively. So, what’s the ideal temperature for washing your sports jersey?

In most cases, washing your jersey in warm water is the safest bet. It’s a happy medium that combines the benefits of both hot and cold water. Warm water loosens dirt and sweat without being too harsh on the fabric. It is also effective alongside a mild detergent, ensuring a thorough clean without compromising on color or fabric integrity.

It might be tempting to crank up the heat if you’re dealing with stubborn stains. Resist that urge! Instead, spot-treat these areas with a soft bristle brush and a mild cleaner before washing. This method allows targeted cleaning without exposing the whole jersey to potential damage.

Sometimes, care labels recommend cold washing. If that’s the case with your jersey, here’s what you do:

  • Follow the advice on the label
  • Use warm water for pre-soak only, if the label allows, to loosen dirt
  • Add an extra rinse cycle to ensure all detergent is out
  • Post-washing, take your jersey outside and let it air dry on a hanger

This tailored approach guarantees a deep clean without compromising your jersey’s lifespan. So remember, whether you’re washing your favorite football jersey or gearing up for the next basketball game, it’s essential to follow these temperature tips to maintain the quality of your sports jersey.

Choose the Right Detergent

The next crucial step in washing your sports jersey is finding the perfect detergent. It’s all about efficiency here – cleaning power paired with fabric safety. Remember, not all detergents are created equal.

Standard, everyday detergents in most households may not be the best choice for your jersey. Why not? Because their abrasive ingredients may harm the delicate fabric of the jersey. Imagine wearing a roughened or faded jersey after only a couple of washes. You don’t want that, do you?

Instead, choose a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics. Woolite is a renowned detergent that works wonders. Its gentle yet effective formula helps maintain the vibrant colors of your jersey, keeping names, logos, and numbers looking new and bright.

If you’re dealing with stubborn, set-in stains, color-safe bleach could be your best pal. As the name implies, it’s gentle on the colors but tough on stains—the perfect balance. But remember, only use bleach on white jerseys, mostly white jerseys. Using bleach on colored jerseys can result in unwanted color changes or fading.

What about homemade solutions? Some jersey owners have praised the results of using a gentle soap like Dove or Ivory. They’re mild enough not to damage the fabric yet provide decent cleaning power. Be cautious, though, with suds. Too many can make it difficult to rinse the jersey thoroughly.

Here’s an interesting fact: Have you given fabric softeners a thought? While it’s tempting to use them for a softer feel, it’s best to omit them altogether when washing jerseys. They leave a coating on the fabric that can reduce its breathability, trapping sweat and odor over time.

So, it’s clear that the choice of detergent plays a vital role in preserving your jersey’s quality, color integrity, and life. Endeavor to choose wisely. Your jersey will thank you indefinitely.

Skip the Fabric Softener

Diving deeper into the washing process, let’s discuss fabric softeners. Next in your process, consider fabric softener. Generally, fabric softener reduces static cling, makes clothes soft, and adds a fresh scent. However, when it comes to washing sports jerseys, it’s best to step back.

Unlike regular shirts, sports jerseys have unique materials designed to enhance comfort, mobility, and ventilation. These particular fabrics enhance wicking properties that are crucial for athletes. Fabric softeners can leave a coating on fibers, which reduces breathability and can trap sweat and odor over time.

While fabric softeners’ silky feel and fresh scent can be appealing, they can do more harm than good. The softener can block the microscopic holes, restricting the airflow and reducing the jersey’s overall performance.

Moreover, fabric softeners can interfere with moisture-wicking properties, reducing the jersey’s ability to keep you dry and comfortable during strenuous activity. So, contrary to popular belief, your jersey doesn’t require the soft and fluffy treatment to feel and perform at its best.

Let’s say you’ve got a tough, engrained stain and wonder if a fabric softener will help dislodge it. However, the hard truth is that fabric softeners don’t aid in stain removal. For stain removal, rely instead on mild detergents like Woolite or color-safe bleach for white jerseys, used cautiously. Spot treat if needed with a soft bristle brush, but steer clear of fabric softeners for an optimal washing result.

If your jersey comes out of the wash a bit stiff, rest assured that this stiffness is temporary. After wearing the jersey for a while, body warmth will soften the fibers. It’s a small concession to keep your jersey in top condition.

Stepping away from fabric softener use doesn’t mean you have to compromise on smell, either. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the detergent for a fresh, appealing scent. Essential oils won’t compromise the jersey’s functionality like a fabric softener. Their light, non-greasy nature makes them an excellent alternative for adding fragrance to your jersey.

Wash Delicate Areas by Hand

Delicate areas such as logo emblems, signed areas, patches, or lettering require special attention. You’d want these parts to remain intact and vibrant for as long as possible. Using a washing machine may unknowingly put excessive force on these sensitive areas. Thus, handwashing becomes the optimal course of action for preserving the longevity of these areas on your sports jerseys.

While handwashing your jersey, the first step is to fill your sink or bucket with cool water. Remember to avoid hot water, as it may cause fading or damage to the fabric. After filling the sink or bucket, add a small amount of gentle detergent, preferably mild. Gentle sloshing will help disperse the soap evenly in the water.

Once your washing station is ready, you can focus on the specific areas of the jersey that need attention. Dab or massage the soapy water onto the sensitive area with your fingers or a soft-bristle brush. Apply light pressure, being careful not to scrub as this may cause the detailing to peel or fade. Allow the jersey to soak for a few minutes to help loosen any dirt or sweat residue.

The next step in our washing guide is rinsing. Clear the sink or bucket and refill it with cool, clean water. Rinse the jersey thoroughly, gently squeezing the fabric to remove the detergent, but avoid wringing it. Wringing can damage the material, particularly in the delicate areas we aim to protect.

Finally, gently pat the jersey dry with a clean towel once all the detergent has been rinsed out. During this process, avoid wringing or twisting the jersey to protect its shape and integrity. Following these steps will ensure that your jersey’s delicate areas retain their original appearance and quality.

Avoid Bleach

As you continue your jersey-washing journey, it’s crucial to keep a commonly used household cleaning agent at bay – bleach. You might be thinking, “Bleach? Isn’t it a reliable whitening and brightening tool?” Sure, it can work wonders on regular clothing, but on your beloved jerseys, it may become a nightmare.

Bleach, especially chlorine bleach, is far too harsh for the delicate fabrics of your sports jerseys. It’s like putting a workhorse in a china shop – the potential for damage is too high. The rough and robust nature of bleach will inadvertently fade the vibrant colors of your jersey, or worse, it may cause irreversible damage to the fabric structure itself. Be aware of the lure of bleach’s quick and effective stain-removing abilities; it’s not the hero you want for your jerseys in the long term.

Instead of reaching for bleach, why not utilize a mild detergent or color-safe bleach? Traditional bleach is hard-hitting heavy artillery, but these gentler options are more of a surgical strike, specifically designed to remove dirt and stains without harming the fabric or fading the colors of your jersey.

For deeper stains or dirty spots that resist regular washing, it’s best to use a color-safe bleach or a specially formulated sports detergent. There are products out there that specifically target stains and odors often found in sportswear. But remember, it’s crucial only to use color-safe bleaches on white or predominantly white jerseys, as it might affect colored fabrics differently.

If you find yourself in combat with a truly stubborn stain that even these strategies can’t tackle, hand washing the affected area with mild soap and a soft bristle brush can be your last line of defense. Yet, be gentle and remember that having a slightly noticeable stain is better than a jersey damaged by too aggressive cleaning.

Bleach must remain on the bench in the battle against dirt and bleach on your prized jerseys. Adopting these suggested approaches will ensure your jersey’s longevity and vibrance, protecting your investment and keeping you looking sharp on and off the field.

Use a Gentle Cycle

Gentle is the key term that should drive your jersey-washing process. While it’s critical to be gentle with the detergent and hand-wash delicate areas, it’s equally paramount to be gentle with the overall washing cycle for your sports jersey. A general rule of thumb dictates using the washer’s gentle or delicate setting when dealing with such items.

Before jumping in, it’s crucial to ensure your washing machine is clean from the residue of previous washes. An overlooked residue or a color-blooming remnant could inadvertently cast a stain or hitch a ride on your jersey, causing unnecessary, often irreversible, damage.

It’s also advised to avoid washing jerseys with other clothing items, especially those of different colors. Despite being color-safe, detergents don’t eliminate the risks of color bleeding in the wash. Therefore, washing the jersey alone or with similar colors reduces any chances of unexpected color blending.

POV changing to second person:

Once you’ve adjusted the settings and ensure the cleanliness of your washing machine, the next step entails loading your jersey. For the washing cycle, place your jersey inside out. This handy trick protects the outer layer detailing, such as logos, embroidery, and numbers, from direct contact with the drum’s wall or other clothes in the load.

Engage the washer’s gentle cycle, which utilizes minimal agitation and spin to clean your jersey while minimizing the risk of damage. When using the soft or delicate cycle, the machine agitates slowly and with lesser intensity, thus offering a considerate clean without potential harm to your jersey. Avoid the standard, heavy-duty cycles that are too harsh for the delicate nature of a sports jersey.

After starting the cycle, do not disturb it until it’s complete. This is where the patience factor kicks in. It might seem enticing to check or remove the jersey mid-cycle, but it’s best to wait until the wash cycle is fully completed before taking any action.

Knowing that the washing process may vary slightly depending on your specific washing machine model is crucial. Always lean on the instruction manual for specifics related to your appliance.

Air Dry or Tumble Dry?

Once the gentle wash cycle is over, you might wonder: air dry or tumble dry? This choice can make or break the after-washing care for your jersey. When preserving its pristine condition, the answer is simple: air dry your sports jersey

Air drying is hands-down gentler on your fabric than mechanical drying methods. It helps retain vibrant colors and print quality, preventing damage like color fading and clicking off logos or numbers.

To air dry, find a cool, shaded area where your jersey isn’t exposed to direct sunlight, which can lead to color fading. Spread your jersey flat on a clean towel, roll up the towel, and gently press to remove excess water. Then, hang it up on a drying rack or hanger. Make sure to avoid using clips that could leave marks on the fabric. Lay out the jersey in its natural shape, smooth out any wrinkles, and allow it to dry.

If you’re tempted to use the dryer, remember that high temperatures during tumble drying can warp and shrink the fabric, causing irreversible damage. If you need to machine dry in an emergency, always use the lowest heat setting.

With dryers, it’s essential to avoid overloading. Tossing in too many clothes can result in your jersey not drying evenly. One trick to speed up drying is adding dry towels to the dryer. These absorb moisture from the jersey, aiding quicker drying. 

Moreover, consider using dryer balls. They create space among the clothes, allowing for better air circulation and, thus, faster drying.

Avoid pulling or tugging when removing the jersey from the dryer, which could misshape the fabric. Instead, carefully remove it when it’s slightly damp, maybe 90% dry. Lay the jersey flat on a clean towel, much like the air-drying process, to finish the drying process. This leads to fewer wrinkles and maintains the longevity of the fabric.

Regardless of your drying method, bear in mind: always turn your jersey right side out once it’s fully dry. Delaying this step might result in it retaining unpleasant odors. Leaving a damp jersey crumpled or folded can lead to mildew growth and a lingering musty smell.

Ironing and Steaming

Remember the aftercare: Ironing and steaming can seal the deal and keep your jersey looking fresh and crisp. While this may seem straightforward, there’s more to it than you might think. It’s crucial to note that due to the delicate nature of jerseys, ironing can potentially harm them if not done correctly.

Firstly, you should avoid directly ironing your jersey, especially in areas with logos or numbers. The heat from the iron might distort these designs or cause peeling. Instead, turn your jersey inside out before ironing. This method helps protect the sensitive areas, keeping the vibrant colors intact and preserving the quality of the printed graphics.

Don’t set your iron too hot. Excessive heat can damage the fabric and cause a dreaded shine or scorching. Wrinkle-release settings are ideal for these types of fabrics. If your iron doesn’t have this setting, opt for the lowest temperature option, slowly increasing heat as necessary.

Remember to keep your iron moving. Do not let it rest on one spot. This action reduces the risk of burning or damaging the fabric.

Steaming is an excellent alternative for jerseys that need a bit of refreshing without going through a complete washing cycle. Handheld steamers work wonders for freshening up your jersey and removing any wrinkles. Hold the steamer about an inch from the fabric, ensuring an even steam distribution across the material. When steaming, also remember to turn the jersey inside out for delicate areas.

If you don’t own a steamer, mimicking one at home is easy. Hang your jersey in the bathroom during a hot shower. Steam from the shower will help remove minor creases. However, this method might be less effective than an actual steamer.

In ironing and steaming, it’s always best to first test on a small, less visible section to ensure the settings are suitable. Monitor the fabric’s response and adjust accordingly. These careful steps will ensure your jersey remains in mint condition for as long as possible.

Stain Removal Techniques

Dealing with stains on your sports jersey can be challenging. Stain removal is crucial for maintaining your jersey’s pristine condition and longevity. However, knowing the proper techniques to avoid further damage is essential. Let’s guide you through the safest methods in tackling those stubborn stains.

In the case of a fresh spill, use a clean cloth or towel to blot the affected area, not rub. Blotting lifts the substance causing the stain, reducing its spread and effect. Remember, speed is of the essence here. Act quickly to minimize staining.

For older stains, pre-treatment before the actual wash is a smart move. Use a mild pre-treat stain remover or a drop of your delicate detergent for this. Apply the solution to the soiled area and gently brush with a soft bristle. Let this settle for about 15 minutes before proceeding to the wash.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be your unexpected ally when dealing with ink stains. Apply a small amount onto the stain and dab with a clean cloth until the stain lifts.

Consider sweat stains as the sports jersey’s arch-nemesis. To tackle these, silver ions are your friends. Silver has natural antibacterial properties that can combat sweat-borne bacteria. As such, a detergent with silver ions effectively removes the yellowish sweat stains while killing off odor-causing bacteria.

To treat mud stains, allow the mud to dry and brush off as much as possible. Then, pre-soak the jersey in cold, soapy water before proceeding to the wash.

Remember, every jersey material is different; what works for one might not work well for another. Always take note of the care label before trying any products or techniques. While we’ve suggested popular methods, these merely guide you. Your specific stain and jersey may require a more tailored approach.

One last thing. Never resort to hard scrubbing, as it can damage your sports jersey’s delicate fabric and vibrant colors. Practice patience and gentle care throughout the stain removal process. Handle your jersey with the utmost respect it deserves. Starting gently and increasing treatment intensity only if needed can save your jersey from unnecessary wear and tear. Stick with these basics, and you’re down the right path to maintain the look and feel of your sports jersey.


So, you’ve got the lowdown to wash a sports jersey like a pro. Remember, it’s all about the right supplies and techniques. Mild detergent, color-safe bleach, a soft bristle brush, and patience go a long way. Turning your jersey inside out and using warm water can make a difference. Don’t shy away from a gentle pre-soak and spot treatment for those stubborn stains.

Steer clear of standard detergents and fabric softeners. They’re not your jersey’s best friends. A mild cleanser like Woolite and a few drops of essential oil are all you need for a clean, fresh-smelling jersey. And remember, handwashing those delicate areas can save you a world of trouble.

Bleach is a big no-no; air drying is your best bet for preserving your jersey’s vibrant colors and prints. If you need to iron or steam, do it right to avoid damaging those precious logos and numbers. And when it comes to stains, remember to blot, not rub.

By following these tips, you’ll ensure your jersey stays in top-notch condition for many games. Happy washing!

Clotheslyne: A Professional Laundry Solution

For those who prefer professional laundry care, Clotheslyne provides an ideal solution. Through the app, you can hire Clotheslyners for expert laundry services, including washing, drying, and folding of clothes and bulky items.

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You can also schedule your laundry pick up through our web portal.

Fill up a tall kitchen bag full of clothes. A Clotheslyner in your community will pick it up and deliver it back to you washed, dried, and folded in 48 hours. It’s that simple.

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