The feeling of euphoria when you cross the finish line after an obstacle race is like no other, but shortly after reality kicks and you’re faced with the fact you are covered in mud! Often a long car or train journey faces you and getting clean stood in the middle of a field (usually in the middle of no where) can be difficult. Some of the race series now provide showers and changing tents for racers, however others provide portable toilets and that’s it.
So here are some tips for how to get muddy clothes clean:
If you have the luxury of a shower at the race, shower with your clothes on initially before removing them. This will help get rid of the excess mud before rinsing them again under the shower once again before you get out.
If you don’t have the luxury of a shower at the race, often the changing areas are simply the car parks, if you are driving I highly recommend taking some very large bottles of water with you to give yourself a make shift shower in the car park post race. Often the portable toilets don’t have running water just hand sanitizer and you don’t want to waste money purchasing drink water to wash your face and hair!
Once you have splashed some water on your face and hair, remove your clothes and try and let them air dry a little before you pack your bag to return home. Putting them wet and muddy straight into a bin liner and into your rucksack is not pleasant and makes the cleaning process harder when you get home.
Once you have returned home or to where you are staying post race, remove your wet clothes from your rucksack immediately and allow the fabric to completely dry. Do not do what I did after my first race and put the muddy clothes straight into the washing machine. Washing muddy clothes will clog up your machine and your next load of laundry will come out dirtier than it went in.
When your clothes are dry try and get rid of as much of the loose dirt as possible – shaking your clothes vigorously outside usually is the best trick for this.
When the excess dirt has been removed I recommend rinsing the items in the sink to remove the remaining excess mud before soaking them in hot soapy water for a good hour. This may seem like a long process but you won’t believe how much mud is in your clothes after some races and it’s really not worth the risk to your machine!
Once you have removed as much mud as possible by hand you are ready to put it all in the washing machine, if you have a sports wash option on your machine I would recommend selecting this – often they again allow a soaking cycle prior to washing. Once washed and dry inspect your clothes, depending on how muddy the race was you might want to opt for a second wash immediately.
If you’ve purchased a pair of trail shoes it is important to care for these properly as they are not cheap and you’ll need these for future races. Again, don’t just put these straight in the washing machine, someone I know well has done this after the last few races and each time they have shrunk! Try and get rid of much as the mud at the race track as possible. When you return home jet washing is the best option of removing the mud, but if you don’t have one then the shower will have to do. You will be surprised how much mud comes of these and they should take a good 10-15 minutes to wash down if you don’t have a jet washer. I recommend placing newspaper inside the shoes when drying to soak up the excess water. Try and let these dry naturally rather than placing them on radiators as again this can cause shrinkage.
Ultimately the post-race clean up whilst not ideal, doesn’t have to be hard if you have planned and packed ahead.
Post Race Essentials:
- Full change of clothes – you might still be muddy even after showering at the race so pack something you don’t mind getting dirty. You often experience post race chills if you got wet, even in the summer, so make sure you have something warm to put on.
- 2 x bin liners – one for shoes, one for clothes
- Baby wipes
- Shower gel/deodorant/shampoo/hand sanitizer
- Plasters/antiseptic cream – it is important to clean any wounds from the race ASAP; I always pack plasters and also recommend taking some antiseptic cream to clean wounds and prevent infection. All races should have a first aid tent so you can always visit them if you forget.
- Flip flops – optional, but I am always desperate to get my race shoes off but don’t want to walk around with nothing in my feet. Also, good to wear whilst you are trying to get changed in a gravel car park!
- Large bottles of water (if driving)