A karate gi is the open jacket, drawstring pants and a belt worn during karate practice and competition. They're usually made of white or black cotton or a cotton and polyester blend. Cleaning them takes a bit more time than washing other workout gear due to the crisp material. Keeping your gi clean and neat helps you show respect to your master and fellow students in the karate-do. It can also prevent skin irritation stemming from perspiration and bacterial growth on the uniform.
Jacket and Pants
Remove the belt from the uniform jacket and set it aside. Karate belts are color-coded according to ability, and may bleed on a white gi if they're washed together. Belts do not need to be cleaned unless they are stained.
Inspect the gi for stains. Apply a protein-based stain treatment to the stain several minutes before washing. If your gi is white, you may swab a small amount of chlorine bleach on the stained area instead of a stain treatment. However, first test bleach in a hidden seam to make sure it will not discolor the white fabric.
Place the gi in the washing machine along with towels or blankets of similar colors. Washing the uniform on its own can be too abrasive and cause the cloth to wear out prematurely. It also protects the gi from damage from the inner workings of the machine.
Add the appropriate amount of laundry detergent for the size load. Wash the gi in cold water to prevent shrinkage. Remove the uniform from the machine as soon as possible after the cycle has completed.
Hang the gi on hangers to dry in a well-ventilated area. The thick cotton may take up to two days to dry depending on the humidity of your home.
Press the clean, dry gi with a warm iron. According to Patrick McDermott and Ferol Arce, authors of the 2004 book "Karate's Supreme Ultimate: The Taikyoku Kata in Five Rings," an ironed gi is acceptable wear in karate class.
Cleaning the Belt
Assess your karate belt for any stains while your uniform jacket and pants are in the washing machine.
Blot any fresh stains with a soft cloth or paper towel to remove loose or wet matter.
Place a few drops of a mild dish detergent into a bowl of lukewarm water. Dip a clean sponge into the water and squeeze out excess fluid until the sponge is damp.
Dab at the stained area of the karate belt to remove debris.
Hang or lay the belt flat to dry. Iron if needed.