How Often Should I Wash my Knee Sleeves?
Written by Kim McLaughlin

As many of you know, knee sleeves are little gloves of magic for our knees. These neoprene compression sleeves provide warmth, limit patella movement, increase blood flow to the vessels in the knee and, as a result, reduce pain and swelling in that area after many heavy lifting sessions. Many CrossFitters have grown to love and even depend on these little sleeves of joy for all sorts of workouts.

Along with all of the amazing benefits that knee sleeves can bring, however, I would argue that any owner who sports these around the gym has also taken on a great responsibility. That would be the responsibility to keep these suckers smelling clean….or at least smelling neutral.

No one wants to be the smelly kid in the gym, so how do you keep your knee sleeves from stinking up the entire facility?  

Wash them!

Every time you sweat in your knee sleeves it provides a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. After a short while that bacteria and mildew take over your knee sleeve and a wretched stench takes over. Don’t let that bacteria grow!

So how often should you wash your knee sleeves? I would recommend washing them at least every two to three wears. By washing them, I mean placing them in a washer with laundry detergent (with or without your other clothing) allowing them to go through an entire wash cycle. I don’t recommend placing them in a dryer (although I know some athletes that do that and the sleeves seem to be just fine). Instead, I would recommend allowing them to air dry overnight.

Now, I know we don’t drip sweat after every lifting or workout session so washing them after every wear might be a bit excessive which is why I recommend two to three wears. However, while you may only be washing them one to two times per week, regardless of whether you are dripping sweat after your session or simply experiencing a light glistening, EVERY TIME you wear your knee sleeves you should allow them to dry out. This means you should be physically taking the knee sleeves out of your gym bag and allowing them to sit on a drying rack after every use. This will not only make it more difficult for the mold to start growing, but it will also increase the life of your knee sleeve.

If you’ve had your knee sleeves for a bit and you’re just reading this advice on the frequency of washing and drying your sleeves, they may have already developed an odor that is beyond anything a washer can help. If that is the case, I would highly recommend reading Calvin Sun’s previous post entitled “How to Wash Your Knee Sleeves”. Once you’ve followed those directions and gotten them back to some sort of neutral smell, make sure you stay ahead of the game for the future and wash them every two to three wears.

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