How to Wash a Jersey 

Spring, summer, and fall are prime times for kids sports. Sports jerseys can be hard to keep clean. Learn how to clean a jersey with this step-by-step guide.

boys playing baseball
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If you are unsure how to wash a jersey without ruining it, fear not. Jerseys demand more TLC than other clothing items, as they often feature heat-pressed decals and delicate stitching that require extra care and can attract odors and stains. But once you know a few important basics, learning how to wash jerseys is simple and doable.

This guide covers the essential cleaning techniques for every type of jersey, so whether you’re wondering how to wash a basketball jersey for your little one or need to know how to wash an NFL jersey after an exciting gameday party, this post has you covered. 

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Remove Stains by Hand

hand holding a light blue jersey with grease stain
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Jerseys need to be washed gently, so it is best to pre-treat any stains on the fabric or decals that the detergent might not catch. 

Mild stains, like those from sweat, will likely come out in the wash. However, grass, dirt, blood, food, and drink stains can be more stubborn. Here’s how to get rid of them before washing your jersey:

  1. Wet the stained part of the jersey with cold water.
  2. Apply a dedicated pre-wash stain removal product or a stain-removing agent like vinegar, soap, or shampoo directly to the stain. 
  3. Use a sponge or a soft-bristled toothbrush to rub the area gently until the stain disappears. 
  4. For tougher stains, create a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts water, then soak the stained area in the solution for at least 1 hour before washing.
  5. To treat extra stubborn stains, make a paste of equal parts baking soda and vinegar, apply it directly to the stain, and rub it in with a toothbrush. Let it sit for at least 1 hour before washing.

Prepare for Washing

bright red jersey exposing white label turned inside out prepared for washing
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Follow these simple steps for jersey-washing success:

Turn Inside Out 

Washing jerseys inside out is helpful for two reasons. First, odor-causing sweat and oils build up inside the jersey, making them easier to eliminate when exposed. Second, washing jerseys inside out helps protect any decals, embroidery, and stitching that may otherwise be damaged in the washing machine. 

Unbutton Baseball Jerseys

To wash baseball jerseys or other buttoned sports uniforms, ensure they are opened up and turned inside out before washing. The still buttoned-up jerseys could snag in the washing machine, leading to damage or button breakage.

Remove Laces 

To wash hockey jerseys or other sports uniforms with laces, remove the laces first to prevent tangling. Loose laces can be placed in a mesh laundry bag or tied-off pillowcase and washed alongside other laundry.

Separate Colors and Materials 

White jerseys should be washed separately from black or brightly-colored jerseys to prevent darkening and color bleeding. 

Jerseys should also be washed with other jerseys or athleticwear of similar lightweight material. Washing them with towels, fleece, or other apparel that produces lots of lint may cause jerseys to pill

How to Wash Jerseys in the Washing Machine

hand opening the front load of washing machine to wash jerseys
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Use Cold Water and a Low Spin Cycle

While you can wash a jersey in the washing machine with warm water, temperature varies by appliance and could still be too hot. To be safe, the best way to wash jerseys is with cold water as it prevents fading, shrinking, and damage to decals

In addition to cold water, use a low spin cycle with the “gentle” or “delicate” setting on your washing machine if available. 

Choose a Gentle Detergent

Opt for a neutral detergent that is bleach-free and color-protective. Additionally, ensure the detergent you use is compatible with cold wash cycles to avoid any leftover residue. 

Skip the Fabric Softener

While fabric softener can reduce wrinkles and soften clothes, it is unsuitable for sports jerseys. Fabric softener leaves a residue that can build up over time and block the pores in the jersey’s fabric, making it less comfortable and breathable. It also lessens the fabric’s ability to wick away sweat, trapping in odors that can linger even after the jersey has been washed. 

Odor Removal

To fight odors in stinky jerseys, use a gentle detergent designed to fight odors or a detergent formulated for active wear. Alternatively, add ¼ to 1 cup of white vinegar to the bleach dispenser before washing.  

Avoid the Dryer

air drying German jerseys out in direct sunlight
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Over time, heat and friction from the dryer can cause the lettering and numbers on jerseys to crack or peel. After washing, flip the jersey right-side out again and shake it off. Then, allow it to air dry on a plastic or wooden hanger, over a towel rack, or laid out on a flat surface

How to Clean a Jersey by Hand

If your jersey cannot be washed in the washing machine, follow these steps to handwash it: 

  1. Fill the sink with cold water. Cold water helps to prevent the colors from bleeding and maintains the fabric’s elasticity and strength.
  2. Pour a small amount of mild detergent into the water. Avoid fabric softeners or bleach, as these can damage the jersey’s fabric and affect its moisture-wicking properties.
  3. Turn the jersey inside out to protect logos, numbers, or embellishments. Submerge it in the soapy water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. This helps to loosen any dirt and sweat.
  4. Gently agitate the jersey by swishing it around in the water. Focus on any particularly dirty areas, such as the underarms, by lightly rubbing the fabric together. Be careful not to stretch or wring the fabric.
  5. Drain the water and refill the sink with clean, cold water. Rinse the jersey thoroughly by gently swishing it in the water, repeating the process until all the detergent is removed and there is no leftover residue.
  6. Lay the jersey flat on a clean towel. Roll the towel up with the jersey inside, pressing gently to remove excess water. Avoid wringing or twisting the jersey to protect the fabric and its shape.
  7. Lay the jersey flat on a dry towel or drying rack. Reshape it to its original form and smooth out any wrinkles. Allow it to air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight to prevent fading.

With this step-by-step guide on how to wash a jersey, you can keep any jersey clean and ready to wear.

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