How to Wash Leggings


When you find the perfect pair of leggings, it’s natural to want them to last forever. But besides general wear and tear, nothing can damage your favorite pair of leggings more than the wrong laundry care.

First, it’s always important to read the care instructions on any garment. The advice that follows may have exceptions (it’s possible, for example, that some leggings are ‘dry clean only’). But for the most part you’ll find these guidelines hold true for most leggings, from your layering staple to the athletic variety.

Washing Instructions for Knix Leggings

If you’re lucky enough to own Knix leggings you’re not only a savvy shopper, you’re in for an easy time when it comes to care.

Here are our official guidelines for washing Knix leggings:

  • Machine wash cold
  • Do not bleach
  • Do not iron
  • Do not dry clean
  • Lay flat to dry

That said, you might still learn a thing or two by reading on!

More Generally: How to Wash Your Leggings 

If you don’t own Knix leggings or you own other brands too, don’t worry - we won’t hold it against you. Here are some tips that should help you care for any brand of leggings:

A Cool Washing Machine Cycle Is Best

Hot washing machine cycles are great for tough fabrics that can really take it, and need a very thorough clean. But most garments with stretch need a gentler touch. This is because elastics can break under high washing machine temperatures — and leggings have A LOT of stretch.

Sometimes this is even visible to the eye, you’ll see “elastic stubble” on a garment. And that’s a sign that the spandex or lycra has snapped in places. Not only will this mean your leggings have less stretch (i.e. they could become baggy in places), it could also affect opaqueness (i.e. your leggings start to become see-through). As well, it could just overall make your beloved leggings look a little grubby.

So stick with the cold wash cycle for your leggings and other items with a lot of stretch (like sports bras and wireless bras).

Hand Washing Is Even Better

If it suits your routine and personal preferences, you can absolutely opt for hand-washing your leggings. Indeed, a hand wash is a really gentle way of cleaning clothes. 

I may be the only person on the planet who feels this way, but I love hand-washing clothes. It’s also handy when you have sweaty clothes or lingerie but don’t want to run a full load of laundry. Make sure to use cold water even when hand-washing.

Protect Them From Getting Tangled in the Machine

No judgement though if you can’t be bothered hand-washing. The thing you really want to avoid in the machine is clothes getting pulled and stretched. Try to wash leggings with items of a similar weight (t-shirts, underwear etc.)

If you do wash them with larger or heavier items (bedding, towels, sweaters), consider popping them in a mesh bag so they don’t get knotted up with these items.

Turn Leggings Inside Out

I always turn leggings and jeans inside out in the laundry. This is to protect the outside from snags from the machine, but also to expose the dirtiest side of the garment (the side you wear against your skin) to the most rigorous clean.

Be Picky About Your Detergent

Because leggings are skin tight, harsh cleaners can leave residue that really irritates the skin. I tend to treat leggings like lingerie and use a more delicate detergent with them. Don’t use too much, either. It’s always tempting to think adding more will make things cleaner. But adding more just means more residue.

If possible, look for an alcohol-free mild detergent. Some of our favourites include:

  • Soak Wash: Manufactured in Toronto, Soak is an eco-friendly, rinse-free wash that cleans beautifully, and is ideal for hand or machine washing bras.
  • The Laundress: The Laundress’ Delicate Wash is ideal for lingerie and other items labeled “dry clean”. This formula removes perspiration, body oils, and stains while cleaning and preserving fabrics.

Lay Flat to Dry

When clothing is wet, it weighs more. That means hanging leggings when they’re wet can stretch them out more. Instead, lay leggings flat to dry. You’ll be surprised how quickly leggings dry!

If you hand-washed them, you can lay them between a towel to remove excess moisture first (don’t wring them too roughly). 

What to *Avoid* When Washing Leggings

So those are our recommendations on what to do. But what should you not do? Well, here we’re a little more adamant. These are our 3 rules:

1. Don’t Wash Infrequently  

You don’t have to be a pro-athlete to work up a sweat, especially on warmer days. Remember leggings are worn right next to the skin (and the groin) so they absorb EVERYTHING. What’s more, workout or gym leggings are designed specifically to be moisture wicking. Those damp, sweaty fabrics are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and odor, which can quickly turn yucky.

There are no hard rules about how many wears you should get out of your leggings (there are too many variables to make a sweeping statement). But I usually think about it the same way I think about my bras: If I work up a sweat, 1 wear and it gets washed. If I’m pretty sedentary (i.e. just lounging watching Netflix) 3 wears is fine.

Also, don’t let a stale sweaty garment just sit in your laundry hamper or workout bag for a week or bacteria can breed and odor can worsen. (This is where a quick hand-wash can be a great solution).

2. Skip Fabric Softeners

Fabric softener is great for cotton items like bedding and towels. It gives you that soft and fluffy feel. But it is all wrong for synthetics. 

Fabric softeners will leave a very noticeable residue on the top of your leggings. Not nice. This residue can also dull and discolor your leggings. If you use softener in your laundry, make sure you separate the items you want to use softener on from your synthetics before you pop them in the machine.

3. Avoid the Dryer

Whether you hand-wash or machine wash your leggings, it’s your choice. But if there’s one hard rule it’s on drying: Drying machines are an absolute no-no. Instead opt for an air dry.

Why? Because the heat of dryers can be detrimental to the elastic in your leggings. And once the elastic is gone, your leggings are finished.

A Little Care & Your Leggings Should Last

Leggings can be expensive garments. And if you’ve found ones you love, it’s only natural to want them to last a while. The correct care will not only ensure they look bright and fresh, it will also ensure they continue to fit you properly and you avoid that dreaded see-through legging.