How To Care For Your Jiu-Jitsu Uniform
Updated: Jan 19
If the samurai wore armor on the battlefield, then the student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wears their gi uniform (kimono) when they step on the mat.
Here are some tips on how to properly care for your uniform:
1) Buy A Good Quality Gi. Certain brands have developed a well-deserved reputation in the Jiu-Jitsu world as making durable, good quality gis with a great cut. Once you have decided that you want to train Jiu-Jitsu, you may want to consider spending a little more money for a quality Jiu-Jitsu gi that tends to be cut slimmer than the more baggy judo type. Street Sports Warrior Buddha Gis are competition grade, long lasting, and come in multiple colors with various designs.
We suggest buying multiple uniforms if your budget allows, because if you are training multiple times per week, you will not have enough time to wash and dry a single gi in between classes. A good gi should last you through many years of use.
What size am I? Always select the larger size if unsure when selecting a gi. You can shrink it with a combination of hot water wash and dryer.
2) Immediately Air Dry Your Gi After Training.
If you have ever made the mistake of forgetting your wet gi in your training bag after class and left it overnight,..you will recognize the importance of drying it immediately after training. The dark, moist environment of the gi sitting in your training bag promotes bacterial growth. If enough bacteria establishes itself, it can create a permanent “off” smell in your gi. (see tip # 4 for how to rid your kimono of nasty funk)
Tip: If you wear a rashguard under your gi, then it absorbs much of the sweat, keeping your gi cleaner and fresher so it may last longer.
3) Washing Since the gi must be washed so often, this is a significant factor in caring for your uniform. You may want to rethink using a clothes dryer to dry your uniforms, which can promote unwanted shrinkage. We suggest washing in cold or warm water (after the initial shrinkage) and air dry. Bleach is widely considered a bad idea as it weakens the fibers of your gi. The fibers are then more susceptible to tearing and can shorten the life of the gi. Washing inside out is a good idea to preserve patches. Hot water will likely shrink your gi and should be avoided.
For a NEW uniform: We usually purchasing a gi that is sized slightly large and then use a hot water wash and a single dryer session to shrink it (be sure to check the gi for size as you dry). After that one time, we suggest air drying. That's because almost all gis are made from cotton, at least the top, and anytime you dry your gi, it will shrink. The reason for this is that cotton is a natural fiber made of cellulose. When the cellulose fibers are exposed to heat, they constrict, which, compounded over the entire length of the fabric, causes your gi to shrink. It also breaks down the fibers, which weakens the fabric over the long-term and leaves your gi prone to tearing.
Tip: be careful when washing a white gi if there are any other colored items in the washing machine. You don't want to be the person who shows up at academy with a off-colored pink gi after the dye from a red item of clothing leeched into the wash water.
4) Funky Smell? Horrifying Stains? Ok, you forgot your favorite gi in your gym bag in the car and now it smells like a wet dog – even after washing! Now what?
Our advice is to soak the stinky gi in a water + vinegar solution overnight. We suggest you fill a pail or even a bathtub with water, poured 1/2 a small bottle of white vinegar in the water and leave it soaking overnight. Then we recommend washing it normally in the washing machine (cold cycle).
Add 1 cup (and not a drop more!) along with your regular laundry detergent. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE VINEGARY SMELL! It dissipates after it evaporates and the fabric is dry.
Vinegar can also be used with stains; spray a stained spot with 100% undiluted white vinegar before washing. It facilitates removing stains from your gi.
How does it work? The theory is that the vinegar is a strong acid that destroys the foul smelling bacteria colonies that have developed. Vinegar whitens, freshens (yes, freshens), and softens fabrics.
Other products you can use to safely wash your gi and keep it fresh (especially white gis):
Baking Soda: to whiten, freshen and soften your fabrics. Add 1/2 cup along with the other stuff. For a stain mix water and baking soda to make a paste and apply directly to the stain. This helps deodorize. It facilitates removing stains from white gi.
Hydrogen Peroxide: This is a non-chlorine bleach to help whiten your white gis. Add 1/2 cup. It facilitates removing stains from your gi.
Dishwasher Detergent: no need to buy this if you don’t already have some on hand, but this can actually be used to whiten your gis. Just make sure it is chlorine-free or else we are defeating the purpose altogether. 1/4 cup will do. It facilitates removing stains from your gi.
Lemon Juice: it can also be used to super freshen your uniform and facilitates removing stains from your gi.
Washing Soda: has 2 sodium in its chemical formation so it’s very effective in softening water, and it’s very caustic so it’s great in removing grease and stains.
Borax: has great cleaning power. That’s why it is commonly used in homemade detergent recipes. Its PH is 9.5, and its base properties and can remove stains from your gi. It also breaks down into Hydrogen Peroxide (the main ingredient in OxiClean).
Oxiclean: it’s pretty much like Washing Soda mixed with Hydrogen Peroxide. Another commonality in homemade laundry detergent recipes call for Washing Soda + Borax (which turns some water molecules to Hydrogen Peroxide). When Hydrogen Peroxide meets water, it breaks down into Oxygen and Water, forming little bubbles. Those little bubbles bleach, clean, and remove stains from your gi.
5) Loaning Your Uniform This is more of a practical piece of advice. When you bring a new friend along with you to try a Jiu-Jitsu class, you may loan them one of your uniforms for the class. At the end of the class, your friend will likely offer to wash that gi at their home and return to you clean at a later point.
We suggest you take their sweaty gi home with you and wash it yourself for two reasons: – if your friend’s enthusiasm doesn’t result in them returning to class you can have a difficult time meeting them to retrieve your uniform. You wouldn't want to lose a gi due to acquaintances not returning them after borrowing. – your friend will wash the kimono and, not knowing, may use hot water and machine dry it on high cycle. Not worth it to shrink a perfectly good uniform just to be kind.
Remember: the academy always offers a gi uniform, professionally cleaned and free of cost, during free trial classes for your friends! They can also rent gi for $5 if they are dropping in to a class. Contact the academy for more information (360)900-9505.
Stay fresh, stay clean. You don't want to end up with the reputation as the stinky person in the academy! For more questions, feel free to email (WarriorBuddhaBJJ@gmail.com) or call us (360)900-9505 anytime. We have over twenty years of experience cleaning uniforms.