If you have recently purchased compression material of any type then you know the fabric is designed to be worn often, and for long periods. The more the fabric is used, the faster it begins to break down. Average life expectancy? Somewhere around 6-8 months. With items that have to be replaced so frequently, it makes sense to try to keep them in the best condition possible for as long as you can.
The best way to keep them in top-top shape is to hand wash them. Compression fabric can be machine washed but it reduces the lifespan of the clothing much more quickly. Below is a quick care guide to keeping your compression knee sleeves as clean and fresh as the day you bought them.
Detergents and Fabric Softners
Always be sure you use a mild detergent and be sure that it does not contain bleach or chlorine. Also, avoid fabric softeners. The water temperature in which you wash the garments should be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If washing in a machine, be sure to place the compression knee sleeves in a mesh bag to help protect them from snags and other damage. You will want to also set your washing machine on gentle, which mimics handwashing.
There are a couple of different things you can use to handwash compression fabric. You can fill a sink or choose another container to wash your garments in, either way the same process will apply:
- Add water into your chosen container
- Add a small bit of detergent to the water. You don’t need much.
- Let the knee sleeve soak for a while.
- Gently agitate the fabric by using your hands
- Rinse the material in fresh running water until all soap is rinsed out
- Dry the knee sleeves
How to Dry Compression Fabric
There are two different ways to dry compression fabric. You can let them air dry which takes longer, or you can toss them in the dryer. If using the dryer it is very important to note that there should be no heat used at all in the drying process. You will also want to be sure the knee sleeves are inside-out.
If air drying, you can lay your compression knee sleeves on a dry towel. Do not try to squeeze out any excess water that may still be lingering in the fabric. Although it may dry the fabric more quickly, it will also cause the fibers to stretch out and knee sleeves won’t conform to the body correctly.
The use of a drying rack is a good choice as well. Just be sure to put a towel on the drying rack and then place your garments on that. It’s important to avoid hang-drying your compression material because the weight of the water can cause the material to become stretched out.
Do not under any circumstance place the material in sunlight to dry. The UV light from the sun will damage the fibers in the knee sleeves. This will cause a reduction in the material’s ability to constrict and conform to the shape of your body. If this happens, your knee sleeve will no longer give you any support.
For Smelly Knee Sleeves
If your knee sleeves have become unbearably smelly, you might want to add vinegar to your wash water. By adding a small amount of vinegar to your wash water you can eliminate the bad smells that have seeped into the fabric. Soak the sleeve for a few minutes in the vinegar water before washing for added smell-removal benefits.
Replacing Compression Knee Sleeves
It’s good to have a few pairs of compression knee sleeves on hand so you can properly allow the fabric to dry and reform after every wash. The knee sleeve should only be replaced if the material no longer reforms back into its original shape. At that point, you will know it’s replacement time because it won’t feel right when you wear it and it won’t compress tightly against your skin as it should. You will know when it reaches that point.