So you got your first gi for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Now what?
Here are some pro tips on how to keep your gi looking fresh, feeling crisp, and smelling nice without destroying the material, fading the color, or shrinking it beyond use.
Wash your gi immediately after practice. Bacteria builds up quickly, so make sure you wash your gi as soon as you get home. You don’t want to get your training partners or yourself sick. Staph is a real thing, and it’s not a fun experience for anyone. Be a good training partner and have a clean, nice smelling gi to train with. No one wants an affront to their senses or their health!
Try to have a backup gi. Having an extra gi around makes sure that you always have a clean gi to put on for your next class. This tactic also helps you not wear your gi out too soon. If you are training more than two or three days a week, having a spare gi around makes sure that you are always prepared for class.
Don’t use hot water. Warm or cool water is preferable with gis. Hot water will shrink your gi! All gis will shrink a minor amount after their first wash, but hot water will shrink them more than you would like and also damage the fibers.
If you’re going to compete, make sure that you take IBJJF gi standards into account in regards to the fit of your gi. You don’t want your pants or jacket to be too short.
Wash on a “gentle” setting. Gis get washed a lot. Make sure that they last as long as possible by washing them on gentle settings.
Do not use fabric softener or bleach. Fabric softener and bleach will break down the fibers of your gi, making it thinner and weaker. This will be to your disadvantage when competing or training. You don’t want a flimsy gi that has the potential to rip mid roll.
Use good detergent. Cheap detergents wont get out the smell and bacteria in a dirty gi as well as good detergent. Cheap detergent will also damage the fabric of your gi, making it thinner and weaker.
Wash your belt. “But, won’t my skills wash away?” Luckily, your skills don’t rely on the dirtiness of your belt. Be a good training partner and keep the staph away from the mats. Wash your belt.
Pro Tip: Tie the string of your gi pants before washing so that the string doesn’t slip out of your pants. If you forget to do this and it does, tying one end to a pen or hanger and threading it through is the best way to fix this issue.
Turn your gi inside-out when washing. This will preserve the color of your gi and keep your patches looking fresh. If you wash your gi with other clothes, throw it in with similar colors. It’s best to wash it alone or with other gis of the same color. But if you have to wash it with other clothes, make sure that your white gis don’t turn pink by washing them only with other white clothing.
Remove your gi from the wash immediately. This is so that your gi doesn’t develop a terrible smell from sitting soaking wet in your washer for hours on end.
Don’t machine dry your gi (unless you want to shrink it). Hang dry your gi so that it doesn’t shrink. Tumble drying a gi will absolutely shrink it, and also damage the fibers over time. Fans or radiators are great ways to safely make your gi dry faster. Make sure your gi is at least 3 feet away from the radiator if you are using this method. Avoid direct sunlight when hang drying your gi (again, this will damage the fibers). Hang drying your gi inside is best.
If you want to iron your gi, do it inside-out. Ironing it on the outside will damage your patches and also damage your gi’s fabric. If you feel the need to iron it, stick to turning it inside out.
Any differences with hemp gis? Hemp gis can be cared for in the same manner as cotton gis.
What about No Gi clothes? If you want your compression shirts and shorts to stay the same size, hang dry them as well and wash them using cool water. Make sure that your grappling shorts are velcroed shut before washing so that you don’t ruin the velcro strap.
What if I want to shrink my gi? Gi pants shrink faster than a gi jacket. Keep this in mind when you want to shrink an oversized gi. All cotton gis will shrink a little bit after the first wash, so consider this before you throw it in the dryer afterwards. Try it on, and if it’s still too big, throw it in the dryer. Try taking the gi out of the dryer every 5 or 10 minutes and try it on to see how it fits so that you don’t over shrink it.
What about stains and smell that lingers? White vinegar and cool water work wonders for smells and stains. Run cool water over the stain, and if it still doesn’t go away, try soaking the stain in white vinegar before washing your gi.
Putting a dab of detergent on the stain and letting it sit for a few minutes before washing has also proved a useful tactic for stains. Freezing your gi overnight can also help with pesky scents that won’t go away. If the scent still lingers, let your gi sit overnight in a sink or bucket with some white vinegar and cool water. If that method still doesn’t take the terrible scent out of your gi, it’s probably time for a new gi.