1) Immediately air dry your kimono after training.
If you have ever made the mistake of forgetting your wet kimono in your training bag after class and left it overnight,..you will recognize the importance of drying it immediately after training.
The dark, moist environment of the gi sitting in your training bag promotes bacterial growth. If enough bacteria establishes itself, it can create a permanent “off” smell in your gi.
One of my favorite kimonos suffered this fate. Even after freshly washing it, after a few minutes on the mat, an odor of “nacho cheese” would start to emanate from the kimono 🙁
(see tip # 3 for how to rid your kimono of nasty funk)
I find if I wear a rashguard under my kimono, then it absorbs much of the sweat and I can get more than a single class out of a washed kimono (as opposed to washing after every single use).
Since the kimono must be washed so often, this is a significant factor in caring for your kimono.
I don’t know any students of bjj who regularly use a clothes dryer to dry their kimonos (which promotes unwanted shrinkage). I wash in cold or warm water (after the initial shrinkage) and air dry (outside is best).
Bleach is widely considered a bad idea as it weakens the fibres of the kimono. The fibres are then more susceptible to tearing and it shortens the life of the gi.
Washing inside out is a good idea to preserve any patches.
Hot water will likely shrink your kimono and should be avoided.
For a NEW kimono: I have usually purchased kimonos that were sized slightly large for me and then used a hot water wash and a single dryer session to shrink it. After that one time I’d always air dry.
* be careful when washing a white kimono if there are any other colored items in the washing machine. Most of us know someone who showed up at the academy with a pink kimono after the dye from a red item of clothing leeched into the wash water.
3) Funky smell?
Ok, you forgot your $220 kimono in your gym bag in the car and now it smells like a wet dog – even after washing!
What do you do?
I filled a pail with water, poured 1/2 a small bottle of white vinegar in the water and left the kimono soaking overnight. Then I washed normally in the washing machine.
It worked and my favorite kimono was restored to lemony fresh scent!
* The theory is that the vinegar is a strong acid that destroys the foul smelling bacteria colonies
4) Loaning your kimonos
This is more of a practical piece of advice. When you bring a new friend along with you to try a bjj class, you will likely loan them one of your kimonos for the class.
At the end of the class, your friend will likely offer to wash the kimono at their home and return to you clean at a later point.
I would suggest you take the sweaty kimono home with you and wash it yourself – for two reasons:
– if your friend’s enthusiasm doesn’t result in them returning to class you can have a difficult time meeting them to retrieve your kimono. I know several training partners who have lost kimonos due to acquaintances not returning them after borrowing.
– your friend will wash the kimono and, not knowing, toss it in the dryer and shrink your $200 kimono to dwarf proportions!