How to Take Care of Your BJJ Gi
Your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi needs a little more care and attention than a pair of fight shorts or sweat socks. Here are some tips on how to care for your gi.
Don't Wash Your Gi with Hot Water...Unless
Gis shrink. Many of the gi jackets are made from 100% cotton. So never wash your gi in hot water if you don't want it to shrink. Conversely, if the gi you bought is a bit big, you could wash it in hot water to shrink it.
But figuring out how much it will shrink is an inexact science. Gis come in different weaves with different fits. You're shrinking it at your own risk. And once you wash it or use it during class, returning it for another gi is no longer an option.
If your gi jacket features a collar that has rubber in it, hot water can deform it. This will not only decrease the life span of the gi, but it will also look odd.
Treat your BJJ Gi like your best shirt. Give it a bit more attention and it will last a lot longer, as well as maintain its fit.
Don't Dry Your Gi with Hot Air...Unless
We all know hot air shrinks. Your gi, likely made of mostly cotton, is no different. Drying your gi in a hot dryer will cause shrinkage, and there's really no telling how much it will shrink. The pants might shrink differently than the jacket. If your gi is a bit big and you want to take a shot at shrinking it, than a hot dry tumble is an option. But most gi manufacturers would advise against that. Returning the gi for one with a better fit is the best option should you buy a gi that doesn't fit like you had hoped.
Most gi manufacturers will also advise against any type of drying in a machine. Save the wear and tear for the mats. Letting your gi dry naturally saves it from the abuse of the machine, making it last longer. It also helps make the color last longer. Drying with hot air is known to make colors fade, something also important to think about when you consider your patches. If those fade or get ruined, it's costly and time-consuming to replace them.
If you have the option, outdoor dry is preferable to an indoor dry. It's faster and the sun will likely contribute to killing bacteria/germs on the gi. I say likely because there is some back and forth about the sun's effect on bacteria. EIther way, it can't hurt and who doesn't love that fresh air smell?
Wash Your Gi Right After Class
Washing your gi right after class is a habit you should form. There are a few reasons for this. First, and most obvious, is that your gi is still wet with sweat and blood and hair grease and any other type of substance that can get on it. You never want that stuff drying into the fabric. Not only because of odor and sanitary reasons, but leaving a gi unwashed will significantly reduce its life. All those things eat away at fabric and when they dry they leave stains.
The other reason is that you should be letting your gi dry naturally. This can take up to a day. If you plan on hitting the mats again the next day, washing it in the morning might not give you enough time for the gi to completely dry.
If possible, wash your gi without other clothes. This is considered a best practice in gi care. This ensures that no other clothing can bleed onto the gi and also that the gi is getting the best wash possible.
Again, treat your gi like your best shirt. If you got something on your best shirt you would wash it right away. Same goes for your gi.
Read the Manufacturer's Instructions
Gi manufacturers know the best way to wash their gis because they've done it over and over. They do it to check color bleed and general shrinkage for each style in their line.
Some will have very specific instructions on washing, drying and ironing. They know their products better than anyone, so it makes sense to follow their instructions.
Other Gi Care Tips
Be careful what type of liquids and/or chemicals you use to wash your gi and get stains out. Some people say vinegar helps, some say Borax helps. Most agree that bleach is almost always a bad idea. Check with the manufacturer and add those things at your own risk. I noticed some discoloration on my gi after using too much stain-remover spray. So a best practice would be to use any type of additional cleaning agents judiciously.
Flipping your gi inside out is a practice done by many. The theory is that it's easier on the patches, is easier on the fabric and also help maintain the color of your gi.