Alyssa recommended that I write a post on how to care for your high-end workout apparel because apparently she didn't know how to care for hers. We were in the sauna testing our shared ability to withstand high temperatures when she complained to me that her Athleta pants were pilling. I asked if she had put them in the dryer and when she told me that she had, I began to feel a little faint and it had nothing to do with the sauna. You don't put your fancy pants in the dryer. Period.
I separate my workout clothing into two camps - expensive stuff that needs to be babied and intelligently made items that can be tossed in the wash like anything else. If you only have enough laundry for one load, you can treat the normal stuff with tender loving care, but not vice versa.
Speaking of camps, what the hell was going on between Brandi and Adrienne last night on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?
Make sure that you never wash something new, especially something new and black/navy/red, with the rest of your clothing. Do you want your $64 light grey, exceptionally flattering Back On Track Tank covered tinged with colored splotches? Wash that stuff with your real sweats and make sure the colors don't run.
I wash my laundry in cold water. I prefer to use Woolite on my workout gear and run it through the delicate cycle. I think that's the best way to keep these items safe. However, if Woolite is unavailable or I am washing all my C9 by Champion for Target gear and a bunch of leggings, I will use Tide in the regular cycle. Do not use fabric softener.
DO NOT go near the dryer until you sort your clothes.
Take everything lululemon and put it aside. Take anything that has tech in the name and put it aside. Take anything that has odor-blocking technology and put it aside. You should only have leggings, your middle-end sports bras and shorts, and maybe your Under Armour depending on how old it is and how long you've been abusing it. These items can be put in the dryer with or without a dryer sheet.
The remaining items should be hung up or laid flat to dry. If you would like to expedite this process, you can set the dryer to air dry or fluff but never ever use fabric softener or dryer sheets as these will break down tech materials and the treatment used to make odor-blocking fabric.