You forgot to wash your brand new gi, "Should I hurry up and wash it or just wear my old one?" As if that's a real question, of course you're going to wear your new one. You hustle to the laundry room and drown your gi in the washer, pull it out & shove it in the dryer, throw it in your gym bag, and rush to class. You run into the gym, you're already five minutes late, "oh no what have I done?!?!" You just shrunk your gi a full size, your pants are high waters, your belly sticks out of your jacket, and your belt can barely tie. Okay maybe this is an exaggeration but I think we've all stumbled through the process of properly washing our gi from time to time. After over 15 years of washing my gis, plus washing husbands for the last ten, and my kids' for the last few years... I like to think I'm somewhat of a pro when it comes to laundering kimonos. For the sake of today we're going to keep it pretty simple.
Shrinkage is a super common problem, and something I get messaged about all the time. "Hannah, the gi fit great when I got it but now it's too tight in the hips, what should I do?" Well... in the words of Kurt Osidander, "you f***** up a long time ago" ... So how do we fix this issue? Honestly it's a lot more simple than most people think it is.
First things first, make sure you have enough kimonos to last you the week. If you can have enough kimonos so you're only wearing each design once a week that's perfect, but if not that's okay too. The only benefit to this is it will really extend the life of your gi, both durability wise and smell. So let's get down to business.
There's two important things you need to do before the actual washing starts. First, tie the ropes/strings of your pants, this will prevent you from losing the drawstring inside the cavity of your pants. Second, turn both your pants and jacket inside out. Not only with this prevent fraying of any embroidery, but also help with stitching longevity. This might seem elementary but it's something a lot of people don't do, and honestly it makes a huge difference. Okay, let's wash away this dirt.
I've used a lot of soap over the years, and frankly I'm not sure I've really noticed a big difference between companies so I just use some cheap stuff from Sam's Club. Now if you want there are a few companies that focus strictly on athletic wears, and I know there are a few people in the Jiu Jitsu community with soap brands that offer detergent. I don't want to be bias so I'm not going to name any, but a quick GOOGLE search will get you where you want to be. I've had a few people ask me about liquid fabric softener, and I never recommend it. Typically liquid softener will get stuck inside the weave of your jacket, and once you start sweating it can leak out and get on your training partner and the mats. Yuck. You don't need it, it doesn't make the gi any softer, and I'm sure it's not good for the longevity of the fabric.
On to the important stuff, water temperature. This can be a long one but like I said earlier we're keeping it simple today; however make sure to come back next week where we talk about ways to shrink your gi in it's entirety and also shrinking sleeves and/or pants only. Back on topic. Typically, always wash on cold. It's really that easy. You can expect your brand new gi to shrink a bit over the course of 6-12 washes even with just cold water, it's cotton and cotton just naturally shrinks. Some washers are fancy with RPM settings, water depth, and a bunch of other settings... Who needs all that? Set it to normal and walk away.
Once the wash is done make sure it is fully rung out, if the weight of the gi threw your washer off and it's still dripping then give it another spin. You have two options from here, tumble dry or hang dry. Ideally you'll hang dry more often than not. It's just better for the gi. Banging around the dryer isn't helping the longevity. If you're in a time crunch a tumble dry is no problem, it takes longer than a hot dry but definitely quicker than air drying. Do not hot dry your gi! We'll get into this next week, but over time it will ruin parts of your gi.
James Krause once told me, "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you perform good." I tend to agree, so do me a favor and do yourself a favor, follow these steps and keep your gi looking good. I can't promise it'll make you look like a model, but it'll give you a couple bonus points on style.
I'll be back on Wednesday for What's Up Wednesdays where we get into the growth of Kayo Kimonos, what's on our schedule for merch, where we might be headed for Jiu Jitsu, and anything else going on.