HomeAdvice & GuidesHow to Wash Knee Sleeves (3 Easy Ways)

How to Wash Knee Sleeves (3 Easy Ways)

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There’s only one thing worse than forgetting about the protein shake you left in your hot car…

That, my friends, are the knee sleeves you haven’t cleaned since you bought them.

The smell is potent enough to knock you and anyone around you off your feet.

Thankfully, there are a few effective methods to wash your knee sleeves and get them back to normal.

Additionally, there are preventative actions you can take to limit the stink.

I’ll cover them all in this article, so plug your nose, and let’s get to cleaning.

Hand Wash with Gentle Soap or Detergent

Hand Washing Knee Sleeves with mild detergent

The easiest way to clean your knee sleeves is to hand wash them with a gentle cleanser. I recommend filling your sink with hot water and adding Dawn dish soap or laundry detergent. I usually go with Oxi Clean.

Agitate the water to increase the suds, and add your sleeves after flipping them inside out.

Thoroughly hand wash your sleeves in the water before flipping them back and repeating the process.

You may allow them to soak for a couple of hours, depending on how dirty they are.

When you’re finished, pat them down and let them air dry for up to 24 hours.

Quick Tip

Never put your knee sleeves in a dryer to speed up the process. Wash your sleeves when you know you won’t need to use them for at least 24 hours.

Soak Them in Vinegar

Cleaning Knee Sleeves with Vinegar

The next method of washing your knee sleeves is to soak them in a vinegar bath. I recommend this for particularly funky-smelling sleeves.

Grab a bucket or a large pot and fill it with water.

Add 2-4 ounces of distilled white vinegar.

Toss in your knee sleeves and let the vinegar work its magic. Depending on the severity, I recommend soaking them for up to 30 minutes.

Afterward, thoroughly rinse the sleeves with cold water, pat down, and allow them to air dry.

Boil Them with Essential Oils

Boiling Knee Sleeves with essential oils to reduce smell

The final method for cleaning your knee sleeves is to boil them.

Wait, what? Won’t that damage the sleeves?

No, it won’t. It’s a surprisingly gentle and effective way to kill the smell.

While sometimes boiling water is enough, I recommend adding a few drops of essential oils or even the vinegar from above.

I’ve found the most success with lemon essential oils, but Eucalyptus and Tea Tree oils are also great choices.

Don’t Put Them in the Washing Machine

I advise against putting your knee sleeves in the washing machine. Although some machines have gentle cycles and/or no center agitators, you increase the risk of damaging your sleeves without much benefit over the other methods.

If you decide to use the washing machine anyway, put your sleeves in a laundry bag to better protect them. Refer to the machine washing instructions on the label (if available) to see the suggested water temperature and cycle settings.

Once again, do not put your sleeves in the dryer. Not only can a dryer damage your sleeves, but it can also shrink them. Knee sleeves are already tight enough. Assuming you had the right size to begin with, making them even tighter can spell trouble.

Tips for Preventing Smelly Knee Sleeves

  • Turn them inside out after training: One of the biggest benefits of knee sleeves is that they generate a lot of warmth. However, with warmth comes sweat, and typically lots of it. When you get done training, turn your sleeves inside out so that sweat doesn’t fester. You may also want to wipe them down.
  • Don’t leave them in your gym bag or car: The absolute worst thing you can do is leave your knee sleeves in a confined space. The worst offenders are your gym bag or car. Accumulated sweat in darkness with no breathability is a recipe for smelly knee sleeves. Do this, and you’ll quickly need a vinegar or oil bath.

FAQs on How to Wash Knee Sleeves

  • Why do my Knee Sleeves Smell so Bad?

    When you sweat inside of knee sleeves and let them sit after training, they become prime breeding grounds for bacteria. These organisms eventually cause your sleeves to stink, requiring you to wash them. Turn your knee sleeves inside out after training to reduce the risk.

  • What is the Best Way to Clean Knee Sleeves?

    The best way to clean knee sleeves is to hand wash them with a gentle cleanser. This preserves the integrity of the knee sleeve while knocking down bad smells. For tough jobs, soak them in vinegar or essential oils.

  • Can I Put Knee Sleeves in the Dryer?

    You should never put knee sleeves in the dryer. This is a guaranteed way to shrink and/or damage your sleeves. Always allow your knee sleeves to air dry regardless of your cleaning method.

Final Thoughts

At some point, your knee sleeves are going to smell, so knowing how to wash them will go a long way toward improving a stinky situation.

As long as you follow the methods in this article, your sleeves will remain in great condition and smell much better.

Also, by taking preventative measures, you’ll keep your sleeves smelling better for longer.

Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab. He serves as the chief content creator with over two decades of training experience. When he's not testing equipment and writing about all things fitness, Adam loves spending time with his wife and two children.

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