Penguin Sport Wash


Jun 24, 2005
Outside Magazine
Penguin Sport Wash

Penguin Sport Wash

I don't know about you, but I can't stand it when I drop some cash on a high-tech item only to find, many wears later, that not only have the performance properties (i.e., waterproofing, breathability, moisture wicking) started to wear out but the darn thing stinks. And even with numerous washes using regular detergent, the body odor stays imbedded in the fibers, tenaciously staying put and keeping good friends at bay.
So, tired of being chosen last on the Ultimate team, I decided to give my grubby gear a bath in Penguin's biodegradable, residue-free Sport-Wash, which the company claims will keep gear at peak performance by cleaning while "restoring breathability, moisture wicking and factory applied waterproofing." Since the bottle claimed it would work on wool, silk, nylon, microfibers, polyester, cotton, and all synthetics, I decided to test it on my beloved three-year-old Patagonia pullover microfleece, a polyester tee that I favor running trails in, and my Sierra Designs Gore-Tex zip-up windbreaker. As I poured a cupful of Sport-Wash into my front loader, I said a little prayer to the gooey gods that my techy fabrics wouldn't come out looking like them.
Even though this is not a detergent (hence, no phosphates) and doesn't contain bleach, fabric softener, or scent, the darn stuff actually froths up. I was amazed. As I pulled the clothing out of the machine, I noticed my outdoor apparel felt clean to the touch—none of that tacky residue feel I was expecting. (And let me tell you, that's a bonus, since residues can reduce the effectiveness of high-tech materials and trap odors). And then for the test—I slowly raised the armpit of my microfleece to my nose, and you know what? It smelled like... nothing! Years worth of hard-earned sweat was washed out in one cycle. And the fleece had returned to its soft, pliable self, not the nubby pullover it was when I had tossed it into the machine. And then I ran my windbreaker under the tap, and, again, voila! The water beaded right off the sleeve. The factory applied waterproofing (DWR) had been restored as promised. And the baby-blue jacket had this just-bought sheen to it.
Now for my next heavily stained load—clothes from my Memorial Day camping trip to the Chama River, in northern New Mexico. This time, I've got one very soiled polyester skirt and a smoke-coated Isis down jacket, which I forgot to pull from my backpack and is now compressed to the size of a grapefruit. But I have faith. Penguin claims this magical wash even cleans grass stains and gives downy jackets new lift. I mean, what will this Sport-Wash do next? Wash my sins away? 18 fluid oz (18 wash loads), $10; 800-523-2844,

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