How To Care for Your Aikido Uniform

Following the steps to properly care for your Aikido uniform, also called your gi, is essential to keep it clean, odorless, and in good condition. You and your training partners will be sweating and sharing bacteria on the same mats, so caring for your uniform and keeping it appropriately clean is important.

Aikido uniforms need to be washed after every class. Use an odor-fighting detergent like Tide Sport on a delicates cycle with cold water. Thoroughly drying your uniform is necessary to keep it odorless, so tumble dry with low heat or hang dry until completely dry. 

Let’s go into some more details about how to care for your Aikido uniform and answer some common questions about caring for your Aikido uniform.

What Do You Wear in Aikido? 

The traditional Aikido uniform is white and called a Gi. The gi includes lightweight drawstring pants, a gi jacket, and a belt that indicates rank. The uniforms are loose-fitting and allow freedom of movement. The materials used to make the uniforms are either 100% cotton or a cotton-poly blend.

Do Aikido Uniforms Shrink?

Aikido uniforms shrink because they are commonly made of cotton. If your uniform is 100% cotton, it can shrink up to 20%, but it can shrink as little as 2 to 5% if it’s already pre-shrunk. Cotton-poly blends shrink up to 5%. 

Always wash your uniform in cold water and dry it on low heat or hang it to dry in a room with good air circulation. This helps lessen the chances of shrinkage, stain setting, and material breakdown.

Tugging on the material to stretch it can remove wrinkles when you hang dry your uniform.

Should You Iron Aikido Uniforms? 

Ironing is not necessary for the care of Aikido uniforms. Many students hang their uniforms or neatly fold them, and these two methods usually prevent major wrinkles. However, if your uniform does become wrinkled, steaming is a safe and viable way to smooth out those wrinkles.

How Do You Wash an Aikido Uniform? 

Wash your Aikido uniform in cold water with detergent after each class. Pre-soaking every 4 to 5 washes or anytime you cannot wash immediately after training can offset the build-up of odors. Making sure your uniform is thoroughly dried is essential to keep it smelling fresh.

Washing your uniform in cold water with gentle detergent and hanging dry is ideal, whether you are using a washing machine or hand washing.

If you’re using a washing machine, follow the steps below:

  1. Remove your uniform and turn it inside out to protect the fibers. 
  2. Choose an odor-fighting detergent (I have had a great experience with using Tide Sport).
  3. Add your uniform to the washer, use the delicate setting with cold water, and include a pre-soak either every 4 to 5 washes or if you are not able to wash immediately after training. You can either use a soak cycle if your washing machine has that option or soak it in your utility sink or a bucket beforehand using a cup of vinegar or peroxide (only using peroxide if your gi is white)
  4. Ensure your uniform is thoroughly dried to prevent odors as well as mold or mildew.
  5. Once the wash is complete, tumble dry with low heat in the dryer and hang it up to dry in a room with good air circulation, or simply hang it up to dry directly. Carefully stretch the uniform to smooth out all wrinkles and leave it hanging.

Wash Tips

Here are some tips you should keep in mind every time you wash your Aikido uniform:

  • Never wash your Aikido uniform in hot water. It will shrink the uniform and set any stains making them more difficult to remove. Hot water can also break down the fabric’s integrity faster. 
  • Wash your uniform separately from other clothing to prevent colors from bleeding onto your uniform and fabric breakdown. You can usually include clothing you wore under your gi. 
  • Do not use chlorine bleaches on your uniform as it will rapidly weaken the fabric and reduce the useful life of your gi.

How To Deodorize an Aikido Uniform

Washing after each training with cold settings is usually enough to keep your Aikido uniform clean, but sometimes it’s not enough to stay ahead of odor accumulation. When odors start to accumulate, you will need to add a deodorizing routine to your normal washing to reset the freshness of the uniform.

Drying your uniform completely is a significant factor in controlling odor because dampness for too long allows bacterial and mold growth which both cause odors.

If you hang it to dry there needs to be proper air circulation so it doesn’t stay wet too long and cause odors to accumulate and set. Personally, in order to sidestep this issue, I usually put it in the dryer to tumble dry with the lowest heat setting and hang it up afterward.

Even doing all the regular washing and drying properly just reduces the odor accumulations and occasionally integrating some soaking and deodorization tactics will be necessary.

Tide Sport and OxiClean

Tide Sport and Oxiclean are excellent detergents for removing odors from your Aikido uniform. I like using them for regular washing but they also perform well if you use them with a soak cycle in your washing machine.

Tide Sport changed everything for me by controlling odors in my activewear. OxiClean is a chlorine-free bleach that I mostly use for my white gis and it helps to remove stains and whitens your uniform without weakening the fabric of the gi.

  1. Remove your uniform and turn it inside out to protect the fibers. 
  2. Add the recommended amount of Tide Sport or OxiClean directly to the washer or the appropriate dispenser for front-load washers.
  3. Add your uniform and start your wash on the delicate setting with cold water with a soak cycle (if this is possible with your washing machine, otherwise soaking beforehand with a couple of tablespoons of the detergent for an hour can help).  
  4. Once the wash is complete, either put your uniform in the dryer to tumble dry on low heat or hang it up directly. Regardless of how you choose to dry your gi, you need to make sure that it dries before odors can set or accumulate, so making sure that there is enough air circulation to dry it quickly is key. Carefully stretching the uniform before your leave it to hang helps to smooth out major wrinkles.

Try Vinegar

Vinegar is good for sanitizing laundry and neutralizing odors, and it also has antibacterial properties, which fight odor-causing bacteria directly. 

  1. Either submerge your uniform in cold water in a bucket or utility sink beforehand with 1 to 2 cups of distilled white vinegar (for 1 to 2 hours before washing normally) or add the vinegar directly to the drum of the washing machine alongside your uniform and start the pre-soak cycle.
  2. Wash on cold with the detergent of your choice. 
  3. Optionally, you can add another cup of distilled white vinegar during the rinse cycle, but this is often a step I skip since I get plenty of odor-fighting benefits from simply doing the soak cycle.
  4. Once the washing is complete, smell your uniform to make sure it does not still smell bad. If it still smells bad repeat steps 1 through 3. It is okay if it smells like vinegar since this usually fades before you have to wear the uniform to class.
  5. Make sure your uniform is thoroughly dried through tumble drying on low heat or hang drying in a room with good air circulation. Gently stretch out the uniform to prevent major wrinkles.

Peroxide Treatment and Wash

Peroxide removes stains alongside whitening, sanitizing, and deodorizing your uniform. Peroxide is also one of the main ingredients in OxiClean. I only use this soaking treatment on white gis. 

Follow these steps to use it as a treatment and for the wash of your Aikido uniform.

  1. Either submerge your uniform in cold water in a bucket or utility sink beforehand with 1 cup of peroxide (for 1 to 2 hours before washing normally) or add the peroxide directly to the drum of the washing machine alongside your uniform and start the pre-soak cycle.
  2. Wash on cold with the detergent of your choice. 
  3. Once the washing is complete, smell your uniform to make sure it does not still smell bad, if it does, then simply repeat steps 1 and 2.
  4. Make sure your uniform is thoroughly dried through tumble drying on low heat or hang drying in a room with good air circulation. Gently stretch out the uniform to prevent major wrinkles.

Final Thoughts

By keeping to certain standards when cleaning your Aikido uniform it is possible to control any odors and keep your gi fresh and in good condition for years to come. Ultimately, if you wash it on cold water delicate cycles and dry it on low heat immediately after you train, you won’t really run into issues very often with maintaining a fresh Aikido uniform.

When you need to deodorize or whiten you can start to utilize soak cycles or manual soaking in vinegar or peroxide respectively depending on the color of your uniform and what you are looking to address.

For more check out What To Expect in Aikido | A Martial Arts Overview

Andre

Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I have always been fascinated with martial arts and train them as often as I can. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and train judo and wrestling as secondary martial arts. I help to coach a kid's grappling program that blends all three martial arts. I hope that you find the value that you are looking for in the articles on this website.

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