How to Wash and Take Care of Your BJJ Gi

How to Wash and Take Care of Your BJJ Gi

Learning how to wash and take care of your BJJ Gi shouldn’t be rocket science but you’d be surprised how many practitioners don’t know how to do it properly! But needless to say, there definitely is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.   

You BJJ Gi is the most important piece of training equipment and it is essential that you learn how to properly take care of it!  

In this guide, we go over some of the most recommended procedures on how to wash a BJJ Gi as well as tips on how to take care or maintain the quality of your gi. 

Washing and Shrinking Your GI

Before we begin, when purchasing your gi online, make sure to check the size chart or, if not, contact the shop's customer service support just to make sure that you'll be getting the right size.  

It’s important to know that most BJJ Gi’s tend to shrink after washing them. It’s essential that you know this firsthand before purchasing your Gi so you can make adjustments accordingly.   

How to wash BJJ GI

But now let's say that you're a first-timer who's very excited to buy that gi online, and due to excitement, you just went over and clicked that purchased button and ended up with a baggy A2, wherein you're supposed to be wearing an A1 or an A1L gi. And sometimes you can make the proper planning and carefully looking at the size chart and still end up with a baggy Gi! It sucks but it does happen! 

You can always return the gi and get the right size, but sometimes, the shipping might cause more than the gi itself, and you really needed the gi for training. If you decided to shrink your gi, you could follow these steps: 

  • If you bought a colored gi (either blue, black), it is recommended to put white vinegar in with your first wash to help protect and set colors. Soak your gi in undiluted white vinegar for 15 minutes before the first wash, as this will eliminate future bleeding issues. You don't have to worry about that vinegar smell as it dissipates once the fabric is dry.
  • Now wash your Gi in cool water and soap and do not use chlorine-based bleach to wash your gi, it's a harsh chemical, and it will destroy the fibers of your gi and most likely will decrease its lifespan. Hang your gi to air dry. Do not dry your gi in the sun as it will make the fabric more brittle over time.
  • Turn your gi inside out as this will protect the color of the gi, patches, and embroidery better. Set your washing machine in warm/hot water, and wash your gi for around 5-10 minutes, put it in the dryer at a gentle setting, take your gi out from the washer and try it on to check the fit.

If the fit is still slightly larger than you would like it, allow it to air dry, and it will continue to shrink a bit until it dries completely. This will leave you with a near-perfect fit.  

If your gi is still too large, place it back in the dryer for another 5-10 minutes on hot until it fits. It might take more than one wash and one complete dryer cycle to get the desired fit, but it might also shrink really quickly, so make sure to check often.  

Do take note that consistently washing and drying your gi on hot may weaken the material and/or cause the color to fade prematurely. 

How Do I Take Care of My GIS?

It is very important to wash your gi and your belt after every training, and the sooner, the better or else over time, it will end up as a stinky gi. But if you absolutely can't, then do it later as long as you don't wear it again before it was washed, and if that is the case, as soon as you get home, hang it outside.  

DO NOT ever leave it in the bag, in your closet or in the trunk your car. Let it air out and wash when you get to it. 

For those who are new to BJJ and got their gear recently but have no idea how to wash a BJJ Gi, here are a few tips on how to keep them clean as well as how to maintain the quality and the color. 

How To Wash A BJJ GI

How to wash BJJ GI
  • TIP #1: Turn Your Gi Inside Out When Washing. The most effective way to protect the color of the gi and to avoid damage to the patches and embroidery is to turn your gi inside out when washing. This preserves the condition of the outside of your gi as it won't rub against other gis during the wash. Your BJJ gi will stay looking brand new for a longer period of time.
  • TIP #2: Do Not Mix Your Gi With Other Clothes When Washing. Considering how smelly it can be compared to your normal clothes, and the gi takes longer wash, it is recommended to keep your gis in its own wash to make sure that the gi small doesn't transfer over. 

    Another reason why you shouldn't wash your gi with regular clothes is that your gi will harm your normal clothes. Heavy, rough material will cause pilling, premature wearing, rip threads out early, and shorten the life of your other clothes.
  • TIP #3: Do Not Use Bleach. It weakens the threads, and your gi will rip or tear much sooner than it would if you didn't use bleach.

    If you want to keep your white gis white, white vinegar will remove organic stains, and the biggest thing to keeping your white gi on top condition is washing the gi as soon as possible. 

    Removing stains on your white gi will be discussed in another section of this article.
  • TIP #4: Wash It With Cold Water In A Gentle Wash Setting. The use of cold water minimizes damage, removes stains better, and prevents shrinkage.
  • TIP #5: The Safest Method To Dry Your Gi Is To Air Dry. Some people say that hanging their gis in the sun kills bacteria, but some comments say that bacteria-killing, fungus removing, the cleaning process should already be taking place in the wash. Drying cotton in the sun is more damaging than drying in the shade. The gis will dry quickly, but the material gets extremely stiff, and it also contributes to gi shrinkage.

How To Remove Blood Or Stains On Your BJJ GI

Wash Your Gi Immediately When You Get Home, No Excuses.The faster you get it into the machine and don't let the blood or stains dry, the easier it will be.   

Do Not Use Bleach And Do Not Wash With Hot Water. Blood is a protein stain, and hot temperature will change its chemical structure, and that will set the stain or yellow it.  

Do Not Use Dryer, Hang It To Dry Instead. If your white gi comes out of the wash and it's still stained, don't put it in the dryer. The heat will set the stain, and you'll likely be stuck with a permanent blood spot on your favorite gi.  

How to wash BJJ GI

Stain Removers. Use the following to remove stains or to wash your white jiu-jitsu gis: 

  • White Vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is inexpensive, gentle on fabrics, and safer to use. It's the key to removing those yellow underarm perspiration stains and color. Simply soak the gi in a vinegar and water solution overnight, then scrub the stain with an old toothbrush and detergent.
  • Baking Soda. Baking soda is a great option to treat even the toughest stains without being too harsh of a substance. 
    Make a baking soda paste and lightly rub it into the stain. Make sure it covers the entire stained area, overlapping the edges. Allow it to sit on the stain for 15 minutes then run it under warm running water to rinse away the baking soda along with the stain. 
    Some stains may be difficult to remove and would require more than one treatment. Apply a second round of paste to the stain. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then rinse it away.
  • Lemon. Lemon or lime juice is another easy and all-natural option. It acts as a bleaching or whitening agent that removes stain-causing substances as it disinfects. 
    To remove the stains on your gi, wet the stain with water and squeeze the juice from a lemon directly on the stain. Optional and not recommended, pour salt over the lemon juice, and rub the material together, so the abrasion from the salt helps work the lemon juice into the stain, you can use a brush as well. 
    Rinse with water and repeat if needed.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild form of bleach and is a very effective stain remover for protein-based stains. To treat stains on your gi, pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide directly on the stain and allow it to soak into the fabric for about ten to fifteen minutes before washing the garment.
  • Borax. Borax increases the stain-removal ability of your detergent. Pre-soak your gi for 30 minutes in a solution of one tablespoon of borax per one gallon of warm water or add half a cup of borax to a pre-soak cycle. The alkaline pH of borax will help break down stains.
  • Oxiclean. They say that Oxiclean is the best stain remover in the market. It is a chlorine-free formula and is safe to use on all gi colors and can even remove stains that have already dried on your clothes. Spray Oxiclean on the affected area and rub it into the gi. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then wash your garment on the warmest setting it allows. 

How To Remove That Funky Smell On Your BJJ GI

Stinky gis are often the result of mold or dormant bacteria that settled in when you decided to leave your gi rolled up in a ball inside your bag, and it stayed in the trunk of your car for a week. Your gis picks up bacteria and other germs from the mat or just from rolling with your training partner, and sometimes it smells fine when you put it on, but then it starts smelling bad with just a few minutes into training.  

Now that you’ve learned the basics on how to wash a BJJ Gi, we’ll now go over these simple steps on how to cure your gi of that stinky smell. 

  • Wash Your Gi Immediately. Leaving your dirty gi in a gym bag allows bacteria and fungi to spread in a hot, moist environment. The longer the wet, stinky gi sits, the more the bacteria that cause a funky odor and presents health risks will spread. The best thing to do is wash your dirty gi as quickly as possible, but if you can't wash your gi immediately after training, at least let it hang dry in the sun to prevent the spread and kill bacteria in your dirty gi. 
  • Do Not Use Too Much Detergent. More detergent you use to wash your gi doesn't necessarily mean a better clean. In fact, too much detergent can cause your gis to hold onto dirt and bacteria that feed off the soapy residue left on clothes. Less is more when it comes to laundry.
  • Add Vinegar To Your Wash. Vinegar doesn't seem like an obvious candidate for an ingredient that will neutralize smells, but adding half a cup to your laundry during the wash cycle can help remove strange odors without leaving an acidic one behind. For gis that seems to have a permanent stench, put those in a bucket filled with white vinegar, and let it soak overnight before washing.
  • Do Not Use Fabric Softener. Imagine a waxy film all over the gi you're wearing. That's how it works; it creates a barrier that disallows detergent from penetrating the fabric. When you use traditional fabric softeners, a residue is left behind on your gi, and that gives you the snuggly-soft feeling, but in fact, it's really dirty because it traps grime and stink.
  • Use Baking Soda To Break The Bond Of Bacteria. A high concentration of sodium bicarbonate, also known as Baking Soda, will do the trick for most bacteria. Keep in mind that when you do a baking soda wash, you only use the baking soda, likewise when washing with vinegar. Detergents contain a large variety of chemicals that may actually neutralize the vinegar or baking soda, and at worst, may create an unstable reaction that produces unsafe gas.
    Soak your gi in a baking soda solution overnight. Soaking gives the baking soda time to go to work as a deodorizer.
  • Odoban and OxiClean. Reviews say that these take the smell out better than vinegar or anything else, and these don't damage your gi at all. Pre-soak your gi in OxiClean for 3 to 6 hours then wash as normal with detergent. Same goes with Odoban, add ¼ cup into your wash, do not add the concentrate directly to your gi.
  • Dry Your Gi In The Sun. After washing, hang your gi out in the sun for a few hours. The ultraviolet rays from the sun will kill a lot of the odor-causing bacteria. The sunlight will dry your gis quickly, leave them smelling fresh, and it also saves you money.

Final Thoughts

It goes without saying that taking care of your BJJ Gi is paramount if you want to maintain their quality and longevity. Your BJJ Gi is the most important piece of training equipment. As such, be sure to learn how to properly wash and take care of it