How To Wash a BJJ Gi (+ Care Instructions)

Your BJJ gi can retain sweat, dirt, odor, and oils. A lot of it.

It’s therefore of utmost importance to take appropriate care of the gi to maintain maximum quality and longevity without damaging it. 

If you find that your gi has shrunk or has been damaged, don’t be too quick to criticize the brand! Here are a few tips to keep your gi fresh, long-lasting, and shrink-free.

Wash After Each Use

Please, for the love of God, wash your uniform after every training session! 

I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to train with people that didn’t, and let me tell you: having a “could you wash your uniform more often” is an uncomfortable talk.

Your gi gathers bacteria every session (like any other piece of garment) and starts smelling “rotting.” So remember, this is not only for your personal hygiene, but this also causes your gi to last longer.

A gi should never be worn twice in a row without washing.

Unless you haven’t been sweating. 

Ideally, you should have more than one gi. I have a different gi for every training session of the week. In fact, many martial arts practitioners have several gis: one for regular training, one for competition, and some for other purposes.

Wash Immediately Upon Returning Home

Don’t let your kimono dry after training; otherwise, you run into the possibility of your gi smelling funky. The source of that funk? Bacteria!

Your gi must go straight into the washing machine as soon as you return from practice. Hanging it to dry (overnight) will ensure that the smell, bacteria, and dirt cling to the fibers in your gi. To longer you leave it like this, the harder it’ll be to wash it out. 

Wash Your Belt

Wash your belt, despite what anyone has told you!

Your belt gets as much dirt and bacteria as your gi, so it’s getting very nasty very quickly.

Some people don’t wash their belts. Don’t be one of them.

Use Cold Water

Never wash your gi above 40 degrees!

Washing your gi in anything above 40 degrees is not recommended by any brand. Using cold water to was your gi minimizes damage and shrinkage and helps preserve colors.

If cold water is not possible, just use the lowest setting on your washing machine.

Don’t EVER Use Bleach (and avoid Conditioner)

Using bleach WILL get your uniform white and clean, but it will also damage the material if overused.

Occasionally, your gi might need a wash with bleach to restore its whiteness. Just pour a BIT in your washing machine and remember – don’t do this often!

Conditioner or fabric softener should also be avoided. The reason is that softener can lock in sweat and dirt, but also damages the fibers in your gi. Try to avoid both.

Natural laundry is the best.

If you get blood on your gi, pour cold water on the stain and scrub it immediately.

Don’t Tumble Dry

I’ve ruined several expensive gis with this!

Try to avoid a mechanical dryer at all costs and air dry your gi. I’ve tried saving time by drying mine and ended up with a stiffer and tighter gi with a destroyed rubber collar.

You can destroy your collar and other fibers with hot water and drying.

I let it hang dry on a clothes hanger inside my apartment.

Line or Hang Dry Your Gi

Take your uniform out of the washing machine as soon as it’s done and hang it to air dry immediately. 

By doing this, you’ll keep your gi smelling fresh, and it won’t get wrinkly. Remember to stretch your gi out a little bit!

Try to avoid drying it under the sun. This can dry out the fibers and reduce durability. Some people line dry their gi under the sun after training; this can potentially be even worse: the combination of sweat and sun will damage the fabric.

Fold To Avoid Wrinkles

Neatly fold your gi after drying to avoid ironing and to look sharp.

In my opinion, there is no need to iron your gi, considering that after 30 minutes of training you’ll look like crap anyway.

Usually, all wrinkles disappear once you get a sweat going.

Do’s and don’ts of washing a gi:

  • Do wash it after every use.
  • Do wash your belt.
  • Do wash immediately without letting it dry.
  • Do wash it in cold(ish) water.
  • Do let it hang dry inside after laundry.
  • Do fold your dry after drying to avoid wrinkles.
  • Do NOT use hot water (above 40 degrees celsius).
  • Do NOT use bleach, ever.
  • Do NOT dry in a mechanical dryer.
  • Do NOT use fabric softener, if possible.
  • Do NOT dry under the sun, if possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to shrink a gi the right way?

Disclaimer: this can damage your gi.

Always check the brands’ sizing chart and order accordingly. If a tumble dryer is properly used, you can get the gi to “shrink to fit”. 

Step 1: wash your gi in hot water, when done, try it on while wet.
Step 2: throw it in the tumble dyer (“Cotton” setting) and try it on every 5 minutes.
Step 3: hang to dry once the desired size has been achieved.

It might take more than one wash and dryer cycle to get the desired fit. Different weaves and fabrics will shrink at a different rate. 

How often should I wash my BJJ Gi?

You should wash it after each training session.

How do you get the smell out of a BJJ Gi?

A bit of fabric softener will help, along with the tips written above. You can use an odor neutralizer like white vinegar, baking soda, or peroxide-based non-chlorine bleach.

How can I make my GI white again?

Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent alternative to bleach to whiten your gi and is also very effective at removing blood. Use about half a cup with your regular detergent and your gi will shine again. Don’t use this on colored gis.

Can you bleach a white gi?

You can, but you shouldn’t. Avoid bleach at all costs. We’ve mentioned other ways to get your gi white again.

How do you soften a GI?

Use fabric softener and throw your gi in a dryer for 5 minutes.

How do you keep your GI from smelling?

Wash immediately after training. Eventually, soak in vinegar before laundry.

Should I wash my GI belt?

Absolutely. Your belt gets as much bacteria as your gi, so it’s of utmost importance to keep it clean.

Photo of author


A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, owner and writer of BJJ Bear.

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