After each sweat session, you toss your dirty workout gear in the laundry hamper. There it sits, for up to a week, until laundry day rolls around. Then, like most people, you probably toss your gym clothes into the wash with everything else… And now you’re wondering why you need to buy new gear so often.

If you’re wearing high-performance exercise gear, it’s probably made from specialized fibers. They’re great for keeping you cool during long workouts, but they also require specialized care. Take these steps to wash your gym clothes, and you’ll extend the life of each item considerably.

1. Read the instructions. Most clothing labels provide specific instructions for the garment’s care. If not, then follow the rest of these tips.

2. Try a sports-specific detergent. These are actually formulated specifically for workout clothes. Otherwise, you can use your regular soap, but go easy on it. It might be too strong for delicate fibers.

3. Use the cold cycle. Yes, it’s tempting to wash stinky clothes in hot water, but you don’t need to do that. Hot water is damaging to all fibers, but especially to those such as Lycra and Spandex.

4. Wash your gear quickly after use. It’s really not good to let it sit, dirty, in your hamper for a week or more. Try to wash your exercise clothes every two to three days.

5. Soak extra-smelly items. If an article of clothing is very stinky, soaking it in cold water and a bit of detergent for a least half an hour before washing.

6. Avoid fabric softener. It coats the fibers, so over time they won’t be penetrated well by water and detergent. Save the fabric softener for items that don’t really get dirty and smelly, like towels or your work clothes.

7. Don’t use the dryer. High heat is damaging to delicate fabrics, like those used in workout gear. Line dry them outside if you can, or use a drying rack indoors.

8. Don’t wash your shoes. It’s tempting to toss those sweaty, stinky running shoes into the washing machine with everything else. But doing so can wear out the cushioning inside the shoe, and increase your risk of injury. Instead, remove the insoles and spray them with an odor spray formulated for sports gear. Then spray the insides of the shoes, and allow everything to dry before “reassembling”.