How to Take Care of Your Martial Arts Uniform

Are you excited for your first day of martial arts training?

Whether you’re studying karate, kung fu, or any other martial art, the uniform symbolizes your skill. You don’t want to get caught wearing a uniform with a stain. Keeping your uniforms clean and in excellent condition doesn’t need to be a chore.

Most martial arts uniforms are made of cotton or polyester. These often come in three weights—lightweight, middle weight, and heavyweight. Lightweight uniforms are appropriate for first-timers especially children, as these are light enough for the user to move. Middleweight uniforms are slightly thicker, but aren’t durable for advanced students.

Heavyweight uniforms are usually for instructors, and made of 100 percent cotton. These uniforms feel like canvas and need to be washed several times to soften the fabric. But these are durable enough to last for more than 10 years.

So how can you take good care of your uniform? Here are some tips.

Presoak It

Presoaking your uniform can keep your uniform clean. After an intense training session, don’t wash your uniform immediately. Instead, fill a large bucket with warm water then add a capful of heavy duty laundry detergent plus a cup of baking soda. Soak your uniform for at least an hour. If you can, soak it overnight before washing the uniform.

But before you presoak your uniform, you should check if water in your residence is soft or hard. If it is the latter, it will be harder to clean your uniform because hard water has excess minerals that can make detergents less effective in removing soil. If that’s the case you should add water conditioner to your presoak bucket.


You may be tempted to use chlorine bleach on white uniforms if there’s stain. But don’t use it if you have a polyester or cotton/polyester uniform as it can damage the materials. White polyester fiber has a yellow inner core that can react with chlorine bleach, damaging the material in the process. It can particularly strip away the outer layer of the fiber, permanently making the fabric yellow and dull.

You should also think twice about using chlorine bleach on cotton uniforms. It can weaken the fiber of cotton, causing excess wear in the process. Also, patches and embroidery on a uniform can be destroyed by chlorine bleach.

So what is the best solution to removing stains on your martial arts uniform? Mix oxygen based bleach and cool water. Refer to the package instructions of the bleach on how much bleach you should mix for every gallon of water. Then submerge the uniform on this solution and soak it for a minimum of eight hours.

After that, check the stain and color of the uniform. If the stains have been removed and the color looks whiter and even brighter, then proceed to washing the uniform. If the problem is still there, mix a new solution and do it again. It can take a few soakings more to remove the stains and restore the whiteness of the uniform but stay patient—this solution has been proven effective in removing stains.

When washing the uniform, never wash it with other clothes. This way, you can avoid dye transfer as well as wear and tear from zippers, buttons, and other embellishments.

Once the uniform has been pre-soaked, fill the washer with warm water. Put detergent, but not fabric softener because it can lessen the ability of the uniform to absorb perspiration.

Don’t put hot water as it can cause the uniform to shrink. And when you eventually progress in training and gain a colored belt, don’t wash the belt with your white uniform.

Don’t put your uniform in the dryer as well because high heat can cause it to shrink.
This can also cause the stain to set in. Instead, just let it to hang dry. Sunlight can keep the cotton uniform white because of the bleaching properties of ultraviolet rays.

But what would you do if there are blood stains? To remove blood stains, use cold water instead. Using hot water can only cause blood stains to set in, making it almost impossible to remove.

Presoak the uniform as recommended earlier. If it doesn’t work, inspect the uniform before putting it in the washing machine. Treat the remaining stains with a pre-treater. You can also rub in added detergent.


If you have a martial arts uniform made of pure cotton, it will surely wrinkle after air drying. In ironing the uniform, choose the right setting (cotton setting) and use an ironing board. Start with the trousers and then iron the legs so that the creases will be at the side of the legs, and not the front. Then iron the top or jacket as if it was a t-shirt, with its creases running down the outside of the sleeves.

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