How To Care for Your Kung Fu Uniform

Keeping your Kung Fu uniform crisp and clean can be challenging. Regular training and washing can wear down your uniform more quickly over time if handled improperly. Luckily, there are some ways to keep your uniform in good shape using the correct practices.

Caring for your Kung Fu uniform involves a regular laundry routine that includes washing your uniform on cold and delicate settings, drying it on low heat or air drying, and deodorizing as needed. Getting your uniform completely dry goes a long way to controlling odor accumulations.

Let’s take a look together at what is worn in Kung Fu alongside some of the basics of caring for your Kung Fu uniform.

What Do You Wear in Kung Fu?

There are different kinds of Kung Fu uniforms designed for the various styles of Kung Fu – Shaolin, Tai Chi, or Wing Chun

In Kung Fu, you wear loose and comfortable clothing, allowing you to move freely without restrictions. Specific uniform requirements vary by Kung Fu subdisciplines, but uniforms are generally secured in place using belts or buttons in such a way that it provides the wearer complete range of motion. 

All Kung Fu uniforms bear a resemblance to styles and materials used in the distant past. However, without an official governing body, and with the progress of civilization, the uniforms came to be slightly altered to suit the times better.

For the most part, Kung Fu uniforms comprise a loose robe on top that can be tied or buttoned up, paired with loose flowing trousers that allow for unrestricted range of movement. Below you’ll find typical clothing styles for different forms of Kung Fu:

  • In Shaolin Kung Fu, practitioners (primarily monks) wear a loose robe that can be tied using a belt or sash.
  • The uniform in Wing Chun Kung Fu was everyday clothing at a specific time in Chinese history and is characterized by large cuffs and frog buttons down the center of the robe.
  • Tai Chi Kung Fu uses a flowing robe that drapes over the body comfortably and is made of cotton or silk.

No matter what style of Kung Fu you practice, taking care of the uniform is respectful to your instructors and pays homage to the history of the art.

Do Kung Fu Uniforms Shrink?

Remember that the kind of clothing you wear will differ based on the style of Kung Fu you’re practicing. However, no matter the style, the uniforms need to be washed appropriately to ensure that the uniforms don’t shrink.

Kung Fu uniforms will shrink over time if regularly washed with hot water. Most uniforms are made with cotton, silk, or a silk-cotton blend. These materials are prone to shrinking if washed with hot water or dried on hot settings.

In order to sidestep having the deal with shrinkage, simply wash your uniform in cold water with delicate cycles and air-drying it or drying it on low heat afterward will ensure your uniform doesn’t shrink too much over time.

Should You Iron Kung Fu Uniforms?

Most of us like to wear a neatly-pressed and crisp piece of clothing, whether we’re attending a dinner party or heading for a Kung Fu class. But is it safe to iron your Kung Fu uniform?

You shouldn’t iron your Kung Fu uniform too often as it’s unnecessary for daily training, and the excess heat can cause shrinkage over time. Ironing or more ideally steaming your uniform once in a while for competitions or showcase events is acceptable, but does lower the life of the garment.

Ironing a Kung Fu uniform is pretty straightforward, just like any other piece of clothing. Just remember to exercise caution and avoid ironing too often and keep the iron moving. You can steam it if you want to get wrinkles out without damaging the fabric.

How Do You Wash a Kung Fu Uniform?  

Now that you’re aware of a few do’s and don’ts of maintaining your Kung Fu uniform, let’s look at how to wash it properly.

Washing your Kung Fu uniform includes the following steps:

  • Presoaking (if needed)
  • Washing
  • Air drying


If your uniform does not have odor or staining issues, you can skip this step.

If your uniform has a stain, taking an old toothbrush and scrubbing along the grain of the fabric a few minutes before throwing it in the washer usually removes stains.

If you are facing odor issues with your uniform, fill your sink or a bucket with lukewarm water and add a couple of tablespoons of odor-fighting laundry detergent like Tide Sport.  Now submerge your uniform entirely in the bucket and leave it for at least an hour before washing normally.


When washing your uniform, ensure you keep the settings on your washing machine at a cold setting and low intensity. Fabric softeners and bleach should be avoided since it degrades the material of the uniform more quickly.

Air Drying 

While you can tumble-dry your uniform on low heat, it’s best to hang it out in the open and allow it to air dry completely. The sunlight can also help remove certain odors and leave your uniform looking whiter. 

However, if you need to wear your uniform earlier, you can still opt to tumble dry it on low heat. I personally tumble dry my uniform and hang in a room with a ceiling fan on.

How To Deodorize a Kung Fu Uniform

Like other clothing, Kung Fu uniforms can sometimes harbor odors that get pretty strong if left unchecked. It’s best to deodorize your uniform to avoid unpleasant smells and keep it fresh and wearable. Below are the two methods I use to keep odors under control for my martial arts uniforms.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda can help remove foul odors and treat the worst of stains so that washing can remove the rest.

  • You can start by adding half a cup of baking soda directly to your uniform while pre-soaking your uniform, which will begin to neutralize the odor molecules.
  • You can also simply sprinkle baking soda on your clothes before putting them into the machine. 
  • Do not add baking soda into the detergent dispensers. Baking soda needs to be added to the drum where the clothes go for washing. When adding baking soda to the machine, ensure that the mix is evenly distributed throughout your clothes for the best effect.

Use Laundry Detergent  

Using suitable laundry detergent can also help quickly deodorize your uniform with minimal effort. I personally use Tide Sport Laundry Detergent (available on for all of my martial arts and workout gear and it really has had an impact on controlling odors more than anything else I’ve used.

  • You can add a bit of detergent to a bucket and pre-soak your uniform to remove the worst odors.
  • Alternatively, you can add this detergent and cold water to a washing machine when washing your uniform.

Aside from these methods, you also want to spend more time drying out your uniform correctly. Sometimes odors remain behind because a piece of clothing hasn’t been properly dried, so air drying in the sun can help solve your odor problems.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of your uniform in Kung Fu isn’t that complex, but doing it wrong can be quite costly and nobody tells you how to do it outright in the beginning. Simply washing your uniform on cold and air drying or tumble drying will usually do the trick if you use an odor-fighting laundry detergent like Tide Sport in almost all cases.

However, doing baking soda soaks occasionally and stain treating your uniform before stains set are valuable actions that can make a big difference in the appearance of and useful life of your uniform.

For more check out Do You Wear Shoes in Kung Fu?


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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