If you train in a gi, learning to take care of that gi is an important part of your growth as a martial artist. Think of your martial arts uniform as another tool in your arsenal. Just like you keep your body in shape for martial arts like Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Judo, you need to keep your gi in top form, too. A properly cared for gi demonstrates your respect for your martial art, and it helps you to look and perform your best in your martial arts training.
Keeping a gi in good shape takes work, though. Practice and competition can be tough on a martial arts uniform, and that can lead to stinky, stained and torn gis if you’re not careful.
So how do you defend your gi against all of that wear and tear? Here are six steps to help you keep your gi looking, feeling, and smelling as good as possible for as long as possible.
1. Invest in a good gi.
All of the care in the world won’t keep the wrong gi in good shape over the long term. If you’re serious about your martial arts training, it’s a good idea to invest in a quality gi that’s specifically designed for your martial art. (Some Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gyms will allow new students to train in a Judo gi, for example, but BJJ students generally feel and perform better in a gi that has been made to meet the demands of BJJ training and competition.)
If you can afford it, buying two or three gis will make gi care a little easier on you, because you can use them in rotation. This gives you a chance to properly dry and wash your gis after each training session — and cut down on the amount of laundry you’ll need to do each week. If you’re on a budget, though, don’t worry! One good gi that can withstand hard and regular training training will save you money in the long run!
2. Air dry your gi after training.
If you gave it your best during training, you probably want to rest as soon as you get home. But taking the time to pull your gi out of your gear bag and allowing it to air dry will save both your gi and your gear bag. A dark, wet environment like a sealed gear bag will promote bacterial growth, which means that odor will build up quickly. And once your gi starts to get that soggy gi smell, it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. Those extra few minutes of proper gi care will allow your body and your martial arts uniform to recover from your training session!
3. Check your gi for any stains or tears.
Before washing your gi, it can be useful to give it a quick go-over to make sure everything is in good shape. If you spot any stains or discoloration, lightly scrub the area with a small amount of stain remover. (If you haven’t used stain remover on your gi before, be sure to test it on a section of the fabric that’s less visible first to make sure that the product won’t alter the color of your gi.) Keep an eye out for any rips that might require mending later and take care of them as needed, too.
4. Wash your gi in cold water.
Air-drying is the first step to taking proper care of your gi, but if you really want to keep your martial arts uniform as fresh and clean as possible, you will also want to wash it as soon as possible. Once you’ve completed your spot check, wash your gi in cold water with regular detergent. Skipping the hot water will help prevent any gi shrinkage or fading.
5. Don’t bleach your gi!
While it might seem like a good idea for keeping white gis bright, adding bleach to your wash could significantly shorten your gi’s lifespan. If your gi is a cotton and polyester blend, the fabric could end up looking more yellow than white. If your martial arts uniform is 100% cotton, bleaching will break down the fabric of your gi much faster than regular wear and tear would.
6. Hang to dry.
Putting your gi in the dryer might be more convenient but, like leaving your gi in your gear bag or bleaching, it comes with a price. Heat from the dryer can shrink your gi. It can also set any stains you might have missed during the spot check, making them almost impossible to remove later.
To take the best possible care of your gi, remove your gi top and pants from the washing machine, give them a quick tug, and place them on hangers or a drying rack. These steps should be enough to prevent wrinkling, but if you’d like an even crisper look, you can finish up with a quick ironing.
When your gi is clean and wrinkle-free, all that’s left to do is carefully fold it. Now it can go back in your gear bag so that you’re all set for your next martial arts training session.