One side effect of participating in BJJ competitions and sparring sessions is that one sweats profusely. The obvious solution is to wash your gi, but many fabrics are notorious for shrinking after one washing session. That is why you may wonder whether BJJ gis shrink.
BJJ gis shrink because they are made of cotton, which gets affected by hot water. Most modern washing machines use hot water, and even the ones that use lukewarm water have heat-producing dryers that evaporate the moisture. As a result, your gi will shrink if given a regular wash-and-dry treatment.
In this article, you will learn how to avoid shrinking your gi, cleaning methods don’t shrink your gi, and the best gis to invest in.
How to Avoid Getting Your Gi Too Tight
While subsequent wash cycles will reduce your gi’s size further, it is not possible to wash your gi enough to make it shrink to the size of a matchbox. That establishes that at some point, gis stop shrinking. They are the most potent to shrinking when they are freshly bought.
So if you invest in a gi one size too big for you and give it a hot wash and dry it using your regular dryer, the gi will shrink to your size. After that, subsequent washes will not have as much of a shrinking effect.
This method is recommended if you live in an area where air-drying the gi is not possible, and you are forced to rely on your laundry dryer. If you are in such a position, accounting for shrinking while purchasing the gi is the best possible thing you can do. You can do the same with your BJJ belt.
Fighting Odor Without Water
The less you wash your gi, the less you risk it shrinking. Of course, the solution is not avoiding cleanliness altogether. If you do not account for body odor, you will not be the most popular sparring partner in the gym. However, it is possible to fight body odor and the smell of sweat without using water.
Store your gi in a large ziplock bag and place the bag in the freezer. The low temperature kills the bacteria that are responsible for the body odor in sweat. If you store your gi in the freezer every day, you will find that you rarely will need to wash it to get rid of the smell of sweat.
Furthermore, when you are taking it out before your next sparring session, you have already washed yourself and have a neutral nose. If placing the gi in the freezer has not worked, you will be able to notice the smell of sweat on the gi right away.
Washing Your GI Without Shrinking It
In order to avoid shrinking the gi when washing, make sure you hand wash the uniform with cold water and let it air dry. If it takes more than twenty-four hours to dry the uniform, purchase two gis, so you don’t have to show up to the mat with wet clothes.
Purchase a Dark GI
As you may have noticed, you do not want to be forced to wash your new gi more than is absolutely necessary. By placing your gi at the right temperature, you can reduce odor without washing. But if you have stains all over your gi, you will have to wash it and risk shrinking the gi in the process. To avoid this, it is highly recommended that you purchase a dark gi.
BJJ rules allow you to wear white, black, or blue gis. As long as the top and the pants match the same color, all of these gis are legal. However, since the white gi has become publicly associated with BJJ, most people default to this option. White pants and kimono sets are easily stained and force the wearer to wash the uniform more frequently than would have been necessary.
If you choose the black gi, you avoid having to wash out minor stains and dirt marks as the black color doesn’t let such marks stand out on your clothes.
How to Unshrink Your BJJ Gi
If you have come across this article after taking out your gi from the dryer and noticing that it has shrunk, fret not. Cotton fabric shrinks when the space between the threads gets reduced due to contraction. Since the fabric is among the most malleable ones, you can stretch it back if you act swiftly. Follow the steps listed below to unshrink your gi and restore it to a wearable size.
Things You Will Need.
In order to unshrink your gi, you will need the following things:
- A tablespoon
- A bucket
- A source of lukewarm water.
- Baby shampoo or a gentle conditioner
- Large towel.
- And your kimono (of course).
Step 1 – Fill the bucket with lukewarm water.
Step 2 – Add two tablespoons of conditioner/baby shampoo in it and mix thoroughly.
Step 3 – Place the gi in the lukewarm water and let it sit fully drenched for thirty minutes. The aim of this step is to let the conditioner relax the threads so you can re-stretch the gi.
Step 4 – Place the gi on the towel and roll the towel till it has absorbed the excessive water. You want to get the gi as dry as is possible with the help of towels.
Step 5 – Dry stretched. This part is the trickiest and is the most crucial to the success of your attempted unshrinking. You can use pegs or heavy objects to lay your gi stretched in a place where the sun can evaporate the remaining moisture. The idea is to stretch the fabric when it is relaxed and let the weights keep it from contracting as the gi gets dry.
How Long Does a Gi Last?
If you are just starting out in BJJ, you may be taking into account what your clothing and gear will cost – we’ve reviewed the best BJJ Gi’s for beginners here. Aside from a mouthguard or a jockstrap, and possibly headgear, you will not need much else. This leaves behind gi pants and the kimono at the highest cost. So how often will you incur this cost?
If you spar regularly, you can expect a top of the line gi to last up to two years. Generally speaking, most gis barely makes it past one year with tears showing up as early as six months. Of course, the longevity of the gi depends on the weave and the fabric quality, and there are gis that, with semi-regular use, have lasted up to three years.
Is There a BJJ Gi That Does Not Shrink?
If you are in the market for a new gi, it is better to shop from a brand that has a reputation for not shrinking too easily. This will prevent you from being in a position where an accidental machine wash causes instant regret.
The 93 brand was named after the year 1993 when Americans were first introduced to BJJ in a major way. According to the brand’s founders, it was conceived specifically because most BJJ gis shrank a lot. The 93 brand gis were designed to fit well and not shrink as easily or as much upon drying. Most reviews of the brand’s gis on Amazon often praise their longevity and seem to back the founders’ claims regarding the lack of shrinkage.
That being said, the 93 brand doesn’t often have products in stock. Sanabul, well known for their MMA gear, also make incredible gi’s that do not shrink if washed and dried properly. This is a single weave non-hemp gi, but other variants come in double weave, pearl weave, or gold weave – we talk a lot more about materials here.
- The Perfect Fit: We take the guesswork out of sizing. Our preshrunk gi can be thrown in a cold water wash and hang dried, without having to worry about shrinkage. Check the Sanabul sizing chart in the images to find yours. Still need to shrink it? No problem, you can wash this gi in hot water and machine dry it to bring it down a size
- Just What You Need: A Jiu Jitsu gi created to go on the journey with you. We designed The Essential series to stand up to extended use, and we sell it at a fair price. Tested by Pros, Created for You: Some of the top competitors in the world rep Sanabul, like BJJ black belt Guilherme Bomba and legendary Jiu Jitsu coach, John Danaher. They put our designs through the ringer, so you can trust what you’re wearing has the same grit as you
- Fit Right In: Sanabul Essentials sports a classic, uncluttered style that you can wear confidently on your first day or when upgrading to a cleaner look
As BJJ Gis are made of cotton, the fabric can shrink when washed with hot water or dried using a standard laundry dryer. To avoid this, make sure to only wash the clothes when necessary and to do so by hand with cold water. Air dry or hang dry your gi and make sure to unshrink it using a gentle conditioner if you end up shrinking the gi accidentally.