- Value: 20/20
- Functionality: 19/20
- Quality: 19/20
- Scent: 18/20
- Stain-Fighting Power: 17/20
- TOTAL: 93/100
Almost exactly three years ago I took a meeting with Drew Westervelt, the founder of HEX Performance laundry detergent, to discuss his sport-specific cleaner and why it was that my athletic apparel was never going to be as grime-free as the rest of my wardrobe. At the time I didn’t understand why one might want to sort their clothing by both lights and darks as well as by detergent type, but the perpetual scent plaguing my workout clothing drawer was more than enough to color me intrigued. I gave it a shot, and 36 months later, I’m ready to confess: I use HEX for about 95 percent of my dirty laundry (outside of cashmere knits and super-delicate undergarments). And I don’t think I’ll be switching back to regular old Downy or Tide any time soon.
It turns out that that not entirely unpleasant, but not exactly fresh aroma that seemed perpetually stuck on my favorite leggings and sports bras was due to lingering bacteria that regular detergent couldn’t fully deal with. This is largely due to the fact that the technology involved in developing athletic materials—those sweat-wicking, fast-drying, car headlight-reflecting pieces we hold so dear—has been advancing at a rapid clip while the science behind laundry detergent is (or was) basically stuck in one place. And while those old faithful detergent formulas work wonders on cotton, wool, linen and other natural fibers, they were never designed to work on plastic, which is essentially what the synthetic fibers that make up your go-to running shorts are made of.
That’s what sets HEX apart. It not only pulls bacteria and sweat out of tight-knit performance fabrics, it also protects your bike shorts from losing their elasticity or sweat-wicking abilities after they’ve been through the wash. Basically, HEX gets way in there for a super-deep clean and then sets up a protective barrier to prevent your clothing from outside damaging factors. And while that’s fantastic for sportswear specifically, it’s also pretty great for my other clothing too. Who doesn’t want jeans that last longer and T-shirts that won’t fade or lose their vibrancy over time?