Guide: Getting Odors Out of Gym & Sports Bags (So You Can Breathe Easy!)

girl walking up the stairs with gym bag

Carrying your water bottle, sneakers, extra shorts, and tees, maybe even your tennis racket and some balls too, a gym bag gets just as much of a workout as the rest of your body. This means, there’s going to come a time when it also needs to be freshened up a bit. Ask yourself, when was the last time you cleaned that bag? We suspect the answer might just be, “Never.”

Don’t worry though, it’s not as difficult as one may expect. In fact, there are some quick tips and tricks that you can try to clean it up and remove any lingering odors. No one wants to carry a bag that smells like feet, or sweat, or any other unknown locker room scent. Learn how to keep things fresh below.

10 Tips & Tricks For Keeping Those Gym Bags Fresh!

Dryer Sheets For the Win!

Keep a small pack of dryer sheets with you. Throw one (or two) in your bag or backpack. That fresh scent will remain for a while and the sheet itself will absorb anything that starts to go sour. Replace them as needed.

Stop The Leaving Sweaty Stuff

One way to continue the freshness and not cause the stink would be to stop leaving your sweaty stuff inside of it overnight. It’s one thing to transport your sneakers and gym clothes to and from – it’s another to allow them to live inside. Take your dirty clothes out when you get home, throw them in the wash, and allow your bag to stay stink-free.

Newspaper Rolls

Roll up some newspaper and shove it in the bag. The newspaper will soak up any odor that may be swelling inside. This works really well for all types of shoes but does the same for bags as well.

Drop In Some Oils

Grab a microfiber towel or old rag, pillowcase, or wool dryer ball. And then grab your favorite essential oil. We love peppermint, lavender, or even a bout of eucalyptus to fight the funk. Allow some of that oil to be dropped onto your object of choice and then pop it inside your bag for long-living freshness.

Add in Some White Vinegar

If it’s been a while (or never) since you’ve allowed your bag to go for a swim in the washing machine, cut your detergent with some white vinegar. This will strengthen the wash and help to remove any of the toughest odors and stains too! You can also buy the Lysol sanitizing add-in to your wash which is made to fight bacteria inside your washing machine and whatever you’ve added to the cycle as well.

Air Dry

Instead of running your bag through the dryer, allow it to air dry (outside!). Fresh air really will help to relieve the fabric of anything unsavory but truly allowing the material to breathe will work wonders.

Sneaker Balls

Traditional sneaker balls can be a big helper too. Just allow a few to stay inside the bag – one in the pockets as well. They eliminate odors quite well and quite quickly. Our favorites can be found on amazon. Try Odor Drops or Classic Sneaker Balls.

Check For Snacks

One of the biggest mistakes made is leaving food in your bags. Please, please don’t do that. It’s not only nasty, let’s be honest, but even your leftover protein bars can cause some funk. Be rid of any old drinks or treats. And shake out the crumbs too!

Disinfectant Wipes

You can keep a pack of disinfectant wipes with you as well. A daily wipe down of your bag will keep odor-causing bacteria at bay as well as any other germs that may hitch a ride home with you. Just make sure you wipe down both the inside and the outside of your bag.

Spill the Tea (bags)

Grab some of your tea bags and throw them inside for an overnight stay. This is an instant-odor killer as the unused tea bags will soak up any odor. By morning, they’ll be good as new.

Pro-tip: this can be used to freshen up your sneakers and car trunk!

Check out our other cleaning guides