≡ Menu
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi Reviews

2016 Guide: How to wash and shrink your BJJ gi 101

wash your belt 2

When people complete gi reviews, you always have to wonder if they’ve washed the gi first or if it is fresh from the retailer.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll be covering a few different things people need to be aware of.

  1. How you can secure color on a brand-new non-white gi.
  2. How you can shrink your gi
  3. How to wash your gi without shrinking it
  4. How you can ensure it lasts as long as possible

How to wash and shrink your BJJ gi (2016 Guide)

Before you start anything, make sure that you consult the washing guide on the manufacturer’s website.  Lately, gi companies like DOM and X-Guard have included washing guides with their gis.

First Washing

The first time that you wash a gi is the most important. It can really be a make or break time because it really sets the standard for how you’ll treat your gi in the future. If you take care of it from the start (by following this guide), then you can be sure that it will last you a long time.

  1. Turn your gi inside out (this will keep your patches, stitching and color secure).  Don’t believe me? Look at an old black or blue gi and see which side is more faded.  I’m willing to be it’s the outside.  That isn’t just from rolling.  It’s from washing as well, so if you turn your gi inside out, it will help the exterior of the gi last longer.
  2. Wash in cool water. Never use warm water (unless you want you gi to shrink, if so, see below).  If you’re super freaked out by germs, warm and/or hot water is fine, just be aware that your gi may bleed or shrink as a result.
  3. Hang or even line dry. It’s incredibly important to note here that hanging out gi outside can do serious damage to the integrity of the fabric.  Sun and UV damage will drastically reduce the durability of your gi if you hang it outside in direct sunlight after every wash or after every training.  We recommend hanging your gi indoors or outdoors, but out of direct sunlight.
  4. Never ever use chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach will ruin the materials of the gi.

The Great Belt Debate

As my martial arts experience is rooted in traditional martial arts (shotokan karate), I had never washed my belt before I trained BJJ.

Many people still argue that you shouldn’t, or don’t have to, wash your belt.

I take a firm stance that these people are wrong.  And gross.  The belt is cloth that holds bacteria and other nastiness just like your gi.

Thus, it should be washed in a similar manner.

If you would like your gi to shrink


Consistently washing and drying your gi on hot may weaken the material and/or cause the color to fade prematurely.

It is always advised that you order your gi based on each brands’ own sizing chart. If the uniform fits a tad too big out of the bag, a clothing dryer -properly used- may be used make the gi, “shrink to fit”.

  1. We advise primary washing the gi in cool water and seeing how it fits. If it’s still large, continue with the next steps.
  2. First, step your washing machine to warm/hot water.
  3. Once your gi is finished, place it in the dryer at a reduced setting.
  4. Take your gi out and try it on.  If the gi is “slightly” larger than you would like it, allow it to air dry the rest of the way and it will continue to shrink a bit until it dries completely. This will leave you with a near-perfect fit.
  5. If your gi is still too large, place it back in the dryer for another 5-10 minutes on hot until it fits.

Note: Different weaves and fabrics will shrink at a different rate. So what worked for one gi may be too much/too little for another.

A few readers have even speculated that if you wet down a certain part of your gi, it will shrink more rapidly than the rest of the gi.

So, if you only want to shorten the sleeves of your gi, experiment with wetting down only the sleeves before your dry it on hot for 5-10 minute intervals.

Subsequent Washings

The directions from here will continue as if your gi fits your body exactly as you want it to.

  1. Wash in cold water.
  2. Never utilize Chlorine bleach.
  3. Hang or line dry.

Optional Recommendations for Blue/Black/Colored Gis

Prior to the 1st wash, saturate the gi inside the a sink or tub with 2-3 glasses of of white vinegar as well as mineral water. Let it soak for 20-30 minutes, and then wash. This will help set the color in your gi and minimize its fading.

On future washes, use only a color safe detergent.There is a lot of debate about using vinegar to lock in the color because many people argue that they lock in the follow well enough when it’s still at the factory. I can only attest to my personal experience, but I have always used vinegar to lock in the follow and I have never had any color come off my gi and my gis remain vibrantly colored even after years of training in them.

Do you have your own tips for washing and shrinking a gi?  Take two seconds and share them in the comments below!

20 comments… add one
  • Ivan

    Any tips on How to wash the gi to make it look whiter?

    • Thanks for the question, Ivan!

      Here’s a few options that other people have suggested to me in the past:
      1. Add oxiclean to your wash
      2. Use Tide with “Active Lift”
      3. Also, try soaking in white vinegar with a bit of baking soda

      Just don’t bleach it. Ever. Let me know if any of the above work out for you!

    • Ayanthi

      OxyClean definitely works for me.

  • Nicole

    Nice work! Can’t wait for the section on eliminating gi funk. I’m going to share it with my entire team…some of the dudes are stinky Petes.

    I also agree with your stance on the belt washing debate. I know of people who will freeze it, but I’m not usually off the mat long enough to make that course of action viable…just seems like way too much work for a silly principle. Just wash the darn thing. While your stripes may fall off, your knowledge will not.

    • Thanks for the comment, Nicole!

      I’ve never heard of freezing it. That really works?

      And, I like that my stripes come off. I’m the world’s worst purple belt so it keeps me farther from promotion! haha

      • Nicole

        I don’t know if it works by itself or not. I did try soaking a rashguard in hot water and lemon juice then freezing it, then washing/thawing it to get rid of some resiliant funk, and that seems to have worked. But, again, that involves washing.
        I know a few people who swear by the freezing your belt thing, but I just say wash the darn thing.

      • Nicole

        Also, I’m already pretty far from a promotion as it is, so I just put mine back on when I remember. I’ve also known of folks who stitch them on.

  • Ryan

    A capful of pine-sol in the wash will eliminate the funk from even the oldest gi. Pine-sol contains antibacterial properties. If you don’t mind smelling a little like a freshly waxed floor.

  • Have you heard of Rockin’ Green Soap? They have a laundry detergent called Sport Rock that was formulated with gis in mind! The owners are big into BJJ and wanted a way to wash their gis to get all the funk out without having to worry about damaging the fabric at all. They did it! Sport Rock works with just a small amount of soap and everything smells clean and fresh when you’re done. You should check it out!

    • Steve

      Works great on cloth diapers too!

  • Jonathan

    I’ve heard from a few sources that microwaving your belt for 30sec to a minute helps kill bacteria. I haven’t done the research to see if it’s true, though.

  • Aaron

    Be aware of placing your Gi in a hot dryer for long periods. I was trying to shrink a gi and the temperature was too hot for the rubber inside the lapel. The rubber deteriorated and shrivelled up more than the gi itself

  • What’s up, after reading this amazing post i am as well delighted to share
    my familiarity here with friends.

Leave a Comment