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How To Keep Your Gym Bag From Smelling, Best Solutions

A smelly blue gym bag being opened.

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It may seem like somewhat of a silly or unimportant issue to some, but trust me when I say this. A smelly kit bag can be a huge turn-off! Just when you are ready to hit the gym, you discover last week’s sweaty gear you forgot to remove has left a rather disturbing fragrance. So what are the best methods to keep your gym bag from smelling in the first place?

There is a range of solutions to help keep your gym bag from smelling. From quick fixes like tea bags and white vinegar. To longer-term solutions like air purifying bags and sneaker balls.

Solutions To Keep Your Gym Bag Smelling Fresh

So there are a number of both home remedies and more mainstream commercial products you can use to help keep that gym bag smelling fresh.

Well, when I say fresh, I mean relatively fresh. As if you are anything like me after a night on the mats, your gym bag will stink from here to high heaven.

And with an array of equipment including, boxing gloves, 4 oz MMA gloves, hand wraps, shin guards, a groin guard, BJJ Gee, shorts, a T-shirt, towel, water yadda yadda yadda. You can see that there is a range of things that will continue to have sweat on them for any number of days.

As you will not be washing certain items regularly. The best thing you can do is to wash what you can then use some of the following tips to help minimise that smell.

Try Using Tea Bags

As an Irishman, I am all too familiar with these little beauties. Something every Irish household has lying around, tea bags are one of the cornerstones of an Irish kitchen.

How To Keep Your Gym Bag From Smelling, Best Solutions
A single tea bag.

But did you know that adding a couple of them into your gym bag and allowing them to stew overnight. I might add, not using them for a cup of tea the next day (always a temptation).

But this still solution will help both remove dampness and some of that lingering odour, even after the smelling gear has been taken out. So throw some of these bad boys in there and watch some of that odour melt away.

I would also like to add that by teabag I mean black tea, none of that fancy fruit stuff. As while it may be good for your guts, it’s no match for that smelly groin guard you have.

Black tea bags may taste better in your mug but smell sweet when dry and unused. So follow this little nugget and see how you fair the morning after the night before.

How About Air Purifying Bag

How about trying an air-purifying bag? This little invention serves the purpose of absorbing the odours and even dampness in your gym bag. Not masking them, only to appear again once the bag is removed.

Chemical-free, and non-toxic, these bags contain bamboo charcoal. Which acts as an agent to absorb all surrounding smells and excessive moisture. And you can keep it in the bag until you feel it’s no longer serving its purpose.

But surprise surprise, you don’t then just throw it away, no-no. By placing the bag in the fresh air and sunlight. It will essentially dry out and once again be good to go.

So just throw it back into your gym bag and continue on as before. Another great addition is that these bags have a two years warranty. To make sure you are satisfied with those ongoing results.

As the last thing you want is to go to your kit bag a few days in and find that just when you need it, the purifying bag has let you down!

Using Disinfectant Wipes

Multipurpose disinfectant wipes are not just about wiping down that dirty kitchen counter. And while these wipes have grown in popularity since the arrival of COVID-19 on the world stage. They also serve the purpose of wiping down that smelly gym bag you have hanging around in your wardrobe.

So firstly clear out the bag and wash what you can. Then take a few wipes and clean down the inside, making sure to get into all those nooks and crannies.

Some boxing hand wraps inside a gym bag.
A look inside my gym bag.

Apart from just smelling fresh, the wipes will also serve to kill off a reported 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. And bacteria, of course, is one of the driving factors behind odours.

Very reliable and relatively cheap, they are a great way to ensure the bag stays germ-free. And helps to minimise those nasty odours floating around at the bottom. Plus you can carry them around in a hand container. I’m sold!

How About Sneaker Balls

Used to make sure your sneakers stay nice and fresh. Sneaker balls can also be used to fight the smells you bring back from the gym each night.

Designed to reach those spaces other fresheners cannot go. You simply twist them to activate, then add them where they are required. Allowing them to sit inside and mix with your array of gear.

The balls will not just remove the odours, but also the bacteria that cause the odours in the first place. So rather than hiding the problem, they will help to remove its root cause.

And with a shelf life of up to six months. These little beauties are not another case of one-and-done. So if you are looking for something you don’t have to keep constantly replacing, this could be your guy.

Easy and cheap To Use White Vinegar

When I think of white vinegar, the first thing that pops into my head is chips, or as they say in the States, fries. We add white vinegar and salt to our fries all the time, but it also serves other purposes.

Used widely as a cleaning agent, vinegar is great for cleaning surfaces and especially glass. But did you know that by adding it to your clothes wash, right near the end of its cycle. You will give the clothes an additional clean boost on top of what the detergent has already achieved.

My own MMA gear laid out on the floor.
Gym gear for the gym bag.

But be careful, as while it’s great for clothes and a number of other purposes, don’t go crazy and start cleaning everything with it. As vinegar contains certain acids which while great for giving deep cleans. Can also damage metal, and stone and even remove the anti-glare surface from your computer screen.

So save it for that wash when you want to kill off as many bad smells as humanly possible. So you don’t knock out your teammates whenever you open up that gym bag.

Try Some Shoe Deodoriser

Using a combination of natural essential oils, shoe deodoriser is designed to kill off odours in shoes and sneakers, but why stop there? As in the same way your footwear can reek to high heaven, so too can your kit bag.

So take some deodoriser and apply it throughout the bag. With it’s a combination of eucalyptus and lemon. The spray will have the bag smelling nice and fresh and ready to once again take on the world.

And another great thing about this spray is 100% natural and can be used in a range of places around the home. So anywhere you find an odour you would rather not have. Simply give it a spray with some Odor Eliminator, let it dry out and Bobs your uncle, Fanny is your aunt, so you’re done.

Essential Oils Are Great

You can also try your own homemade essential oils mix to see how it works. Simply mix some water and oils of your choice into a spray bottle and apply them to your gear-free gym bag.

Essential oils for your gym bag in a small bottle.
Some essential oils in a small bottle.

You might consider first giving the bag a wipe-down to get rid of some unwanted bacteria. Then follow up with your own concoction of your favourite oils like citronella, camomile, eucalyptus, lavender or whatever.

The world is your oyster and it’s really down to how you would like your bag to smell, so go crazy. Just make sure to give the bag a good airing so that afterwards it dries out.

Try A Travel Shoe / Separate Bags

Travel shoe bags are a relatively new concept. But essentially they are a way to separate out the different gear in your gym bag. In most cases, they are used for sneakers.

But when it comes to people who train in gyms and dojos. Their use can be adapted to allow for storing some sweaty tees and pongy pants. It’s really up to you how their application would best be served.

Perhaps you want to put that groin guard in there? Maybe it’s a T-shirt or BJJ gear, I mean it’s really up to you. But keeping things separated can also help other stuff, along with your gym bag from falling foul to that old sweat.

Why not Try Some Fresh Air

Otherwise known as mother nature. One of the best things you can do when it comes to keeping your gym bag from smelling is simply to give it some air.

As we all know that when we come home from training, most of us simply throw the bag in the corner and forget about it, at least for a while. Not meaning to necessarily allow it to stew, but it happens.

But when you have just done hard rounds on the mats and in the cage. The last thing you want is to spend your downtime cleaning up the mess, that can wait.

But why not just take that gear and leave it hanging somewhere with the gym bag open and airing, preferably near a window. And once it’s nice and dry, consider a wash or just a spray down with some deodorant. To help mask some of that remaining smell until the next big wash.

In conclusion

With a range of options available to fight off those gym bag odours. I’m sure you can find something as simple as a tea bag or as long-lasting as an air-purifying bag to help keep things smelling fresh.

It’s an ongoing fight, as long as humans continue to sweat, those pesky smells will continue to linger. So you will have to keep coming back to find what is the best long-term solution for you!

On the other hand, perhaps you like your own smell, nothing wrong with that. Just make sure you give people a wide birth, which unfortunately is all but impossible with what we do, so the best of luck.