How to Wash Your Sports Jersey
A sports jersey is one of the most prized items in any fan’s memorabilia collection — it’s one you can actually wear. It’s even become acceptable in recent years for adults to wear them away from the field. But like any article of clothing, they can get dirty. The polyester and mesh material used to make many Chicago team jerseys, along with the construction techniques, requires special laundering to look its best. (Unless you’re really, really superstitious.) Our sports jersey care advice will keep your favorite garment looking great for years of use. They can also be used on the jerseys worn by actual athletes who want to show their best side.
1. Treat Tough Stains First
Gentle machine washing is required to avoid damaging your jersey (and we’ll go more into that in a bit). However, this is often not enough to remove stains caused by grass, dirt, sweat, ketchup drips and soda spills. Most stains can be treated with a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts water. Dip the stained area directly into the mixture or use a soft-bristle toothbrush to brush it on the stains. Let the stained areas soak for an hour or two, then wash the jersey according to the label.
2. Wash Jerseys with Other Jerseys
Are you the type of person who just haphazardly throws your clothes into the washer? With jerseys, it’s important you don’t wash them with any other apparel. The dye in these garments — especially blue jeans — can run and cause color streaks in your jersey. You should also wash white jerseys and black jerseys by themselves separate from any other jersey colors. If you only have a single jersey to wash, add like-colored towels to help weigh the load down.
3. Turn Jerseys Inside Out & Undo the Buttons
Before washing your sports jersey, turn it inside out. This prevents direct contact with the detergent that can cause fading. Furthermore, it protects the stitching and patching while ensuring printed letters won’t stick together. Unbuttoning the jersey, meanwhile, reduces the chances of wrinkling. Both of these steps will also reduce the chances of the jersey snagging and rubbing against equipment or other items during the cleaning process.
4. Use a Gentle Detergent & Wash Cycle
Avoid detergents that have large amounts of bleach or other chemical additives. A color-safe or neutral detergent is best, as these contain little or no bleach. These cleaners will help your Chicago Bulls jersey stay red and your Bears jersey stay black. Avoid fabric softeners and dry-cleaning because of the chemicals they contain. Use the “delicate” or “gentle” setting on your washing machine so it won’t get rough treatment.
If you’re cleaning an actual sports uniform, use powdered detergent and wash the jersey right after practices or games before dirt and sweat can soak in. Adding a cup of white vinegar to the bleach dispenser will neutralize most odors. Just don’t add more than that, or your jerseys could end up stinking of vinegar instead.
5. Keep Water Warm — but Not Too Warm
While cold water is the safest option to prevent color running or shrinkage, warm water makes the detergent work more effectively. However, a water temperature over 100 degrees can cause color fading and other damage to your jersey. For most households, the “warm” setting on your washing machine should be fine. However, if you know the water in your house is warmer than average, use the “cold” setting. You can use a thermometer at a sink to test the water in advance or mix hot and cold water for soaks too.
6. Use Short Cycles & Multiple Rinses
You don’t need a long wash cycle on jerseys — in fact, long cycles can harm the delicate materials. A 12- to 20-minute cycle should be plenty. If there are tough stains, pause the washer after a minute and let the jerseys soak for a minute or two to help break up those stains. If the stains remain after the cycle, treat the stains again as described above and re-wash. Once the stains are gone, run the rinse cycle three times to remove every last bit of grime.
7. Always Hang-Dry
You should never put your sports jerseys in a dryer. Even the low-heat setting can cause shrinkage — and if there were any stains remaining, the dryer will make them permanent. Hang-dry your jersey on a clothing rack or drape it over the back of a chair to air-dry it. The materials are designed to dry quickly, so it shouldn’t take long for the jersey to be wearable.
Look Ready at Face-Off
Whether you’re an athlete who’s getting ready for game day or want to show your Blackhawks pride at the local bar, sports jersey washing advice from Clark Street Sports can help you look your best. These tips can be used on most football, basketball, hockey, baseball and soccer jerseys in any wardrobe. Keep your new Chicago Cubs jersey looking sharp or freshen up an old stained Bears throwback for years of fandom.