The simple steps to wash and dry your gi and keep it fresh and looking great
I recently bought a brand new gi and wanted to make sure I was washing it correctly from day one. I wanted to keep it looking great and fitting well for as long as possible.
After scouring countless BJJ gi manufacturer’s washing guides, I simplified the best advice into a list of steps to properly wash and dry a BJJ gi and keep it clean and fresh for longer.
To keep your BJJ gi clean and in the best condition possible, machine wash it inside out in cold water using a gentle wash setting. Once the wash has finished, immediately hang your gi to air dry, keeping it away from direct sunlight.
For more information about each step, including what detergents to use, and other commonly asked questions, read on.
The below tips are general only. Read your gi’s specific washing instructions to find out more. These are usually listed on a tag or panel in the jacket.
Table of contents
- How to wash a BJJ gi
- How to dry a BJJ gi
- Other washing and care tips
- Frequently asked questions about washing and drying a BJJ gi
- Gi manufacturer wash and care guides
How to wash a BJJ gi
- Wash your gi immediately after training. This helps to reduce odours by limiting the time the gi fabric fibres absorb odorous germs from training.
- Always wash your belt. This should go without saying. A dirty belt will soon smell bad and might contribute to skin infections to you and your training partners.
- Scrub stains with running cold water immediately before washing. If the stains are still present after washing, consider submerging the gi overnight in a bucket filled with cold water with some white vinegar before washing again.
- Avoid bleach. This can weaken the fabric fibres in a gi and strip colors from the fabric.
- Turn your gi inside out before washing. This can preserve the colors, patches and the overall condition of the outside of your gi as it won’t rub against other clothes during the wash.
- Wash in cold water on a gentle setting. Washing in warm or hot temperatures can shrink your gi and/or damage the collar, so wash your gi using a cold temperature. Many manufacturers like Tatami recommend washing at 30 – 40 degrees celsius / 86 – 104 Fahrenheit.
- If you’re washing your gi with other clothes, only wash with similar colors. Throw your gi in the wash with similar colors to avoid colors running.
- Consider using an organic or mild detergent without softener. Using these types of detergents will avoid the effects harsher detergents have on the gi fabric, and will help your gi last longer. Flow Kimonos for example recommends Rockin’ Green Soap’s Active Wear Detergent to wash its hemp gis.
How to dry a BJJ gi
- Remove your gi from the wash immediately. This helps to reduce the chance of your gi smelling.
- Hang to dry your gi. Putting your gi in a tumble dryer will stress out the fabric, and tumble drying at warm temperatures can also shrink your gi and warp the collar.
- Avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can dry out your gi fabric and reduce its overall durability.
- To speed up drying, use a fan. If you need to speed up drying, consider hanging the gi in a room with a fan. Tatami recommends hanging the gi approximately 1 metre / 3.2 feet away from a radiator to help increase drying.
- Do not iron over a gi. This can damage or ruin your gi fabric and patches. If you really want to iron your gi, turn it inside out and avoid ironing over patches.
Other washing and care tips
How to correctly shrink a gi
Gi manufacturer Ground Fighter has some great tips for shrinking a gi without damaging it. According to Ground Fighter, gi pants will shrink faster than a gi jacket, so keep this in mind when shrinking and consider shrinking each item separately using the methods below.
First, wash your gi normally once or twice to see how much it will naturally shrink. Almost all cotton gis will shrink after their first wash, even if they’re pre-shrunk.
If your gi is still too big, wash it in warm water and dry it normally to see if the fit improves.
If this still isn’t enough, wash the gi again in warm water, but this time put it in a tumble dryer on a warm temperature, and take the gi out every five minutes to see how it fits. Once you’re happy with the size, hang your gi to dry it.
Washing and drying a hemp gi
Flow Kimonos and Datsusara are well known for making hemp gis. Hemp gis will normally “shed” some of the fabric when you first start wearing them, but after the first 3 – 6 washes this will be minimal.
Other than this, hemp gis should be treated the same as other gis when washing. Avoid using bleach when washing, and as mentioned above, wash in a cool temperature and hang to dry.
Regularly rotate your gis to keep them longer
Wearing and washing the same gi several times per week will inevitably cause wear and tear and reduce its lifespan.
One way to stretch out the lifespan of your gi is to have multiple gis that you rotate regularly each week. This will evenly distribute the wear and tear so you don’t burn through a gi too quickly.
This also gives you the benefit of having a backup gi, which is useful at competitions if the uniform official doesn’t think your primary gi is satisfactory.
How to wash and dry no gi BJJ gear
Washing no gi rashguards, fight shorts and spats is basically the same as washing a gi:
- Turn all of your gear inside out first. This minimises damage to the prints and patterns on your rashguards and shorts.
- Secure the velcro on your fight shorts. Velcro can rub against your clothing and cause damage to fabric and prints, so it’s best to secure any velcro by pressing the velcro tabs together.
- Consider putting your fight shorts into a washbag. If you’re washing your shorts together with your spats and rashguard, consider buying a cheap wash bag from your local supermarket and placing the shorts in the bag to be safe.
- Machine wash in cold water on a gentle setting.
- Hang dry only and avoid direct sunlight.
- Do not iron your rashguard.
Frequently asked questions about washing and drying BJJ gis
How do you keep your gi color from fading?
As mentioned above, turn your gi inside out before washing to help preserve the colors. Some gi manufacturers like Braus also recommend soaking your gi in a mixture of cold water and 2 – 3 cups of white vinegar for 20 – 30 minutes before washing it for the first time to “lock” the colors in.
How do you keep your gi soft?
Soaking your gi in a mixture of cold water and vinegar might help to soften it up. Some gi manufacturers like Atama also mention you can use moderate doses of fabric softener, although be careful that the softener doesn’t contain bleach.
Other manufacturers like Rolljunkie mention you can put your gi into a tumble dryer on no heat for a few minutes to soften it. Keep in mind that other manufacturers think using a dryer can stress the fabric. When in doubt, get in contact with your gi manufacturer.
Can you wash your gi with other clothes?
Washing your gi separately is preferred. If you’re washing it with other clothes, it’s recommended to only wash with similar colors to avoid colors running.
Can you iron your gi?
It’s not recommended to iron your gi, but if you insist, iron it inside out to preserve patches and embroidery.
How can I make my gi smell better?
The first line of defence against an odorous gi is to wash it immediately after you get home.
Beyond that, try soaking your gi overnight in a bucket or sink in cold water with white vinegar.
- Using a fragranced washing powder
- Putting your gi in the freezer
- Drying your gi in the tumble dryer at a warmer temperature occasionally (although be careful not to melt the collar)
- Using baking soda
When do you need to buy a new gi?
You should consider replacing your gi if:
- It has a number of tears or rips in the fabric
- It’s too short for competition rules
- It has a bad odour that you can’t remove despite multiple treatments
How much will my gi shrink after washing?
Your gi will inevitably shrink after its first few washes. The amount it shrinks will depend on the gi itself and the type of wash.
Some manufacturers list the amount of shrinkage you can expect. See below for some quoted averages:
|Up to 1 inch (if cold washed and hung dry)
|1-3 inches for white gis, 1 -2 inches for colored gis
|Zero G Super-light
|5% jacket, 7% pants
We’ve also listed out the various gi size charts for major brands to help you find the right size without needing to shrink your gi.
Gi manufacturer wash and care guides
Below are washing and care guides from some popular gi brands to help you see the specific care instructions for your gi.
- BC Kimonos
- Battle Gear BJJ
- Flow Kimonos
- Ground Fighter
- Inverted Gear
- Sanabul Sports
- Senso BJJ
- Submission Sniper
Do you have a gi washing technique or tip you swear by? Leave it in the comments below and help out your fellow practitioner.