Should You Wear Underwear to Work Out…or Go Commando?

We’re going there today — and yes, we mean…down there. We’re answering the age-old question: do you go commando or not go commando when you work out? 

As hip-hugging leggings have replaced old Sofee shorts and camp T-shirts, the commando crew has grown — bragging about comfort, the protection against panty lines, freer movements and less laundry. But, while the move towards less layers has grown, there’s still resistance to skipping past your underwear drawer before sweat sessions. 

And that resistance may stem from the fact that many women growing up were taught that going sans underwear was “dirty,” or put you in the promiscuous camp (god forbid!). Beyond outdated stigmas that women’s private parts are somehow shameful, many of us grew up buying into the notion that going commando could cause infection or let (completely normal!) odors loose. 

So, with all of this in mind, we’re asking the question: is working out without underwear sanitary, hygienic and safe? 

We asked an expert and did some digging to find out all the answers (you’re welcome).


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The Case for Commando

First things first: working out sans underwear is indeed safe and doesn’t pose serious health risks — if you follow a few key guidelines.  

“Wearing undies under leggings or yoga pants is up to personal preference,” confirms Dr. Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, a practicing gynecologist in New York. 

Women who work out commando may even experience improved flexibility and comfort during sweat sessions, according to Dr. Dweck. Comfort level in your clothing can contribute to better performance, so the aforementioned commando crew was not wrong.

What to Know Before You Join the Commando Crew

While skipping out on your skivvies is merely up to personal preference, Dr. Dweck recommends keeping a few important things in mind to ensure safety: 

– Materials matter. Some pants made of synthetic or scratchy materials can cause irritation and chafing, as can heavy-seamed, camel-toe-inducing or zippered garments. So, while those patterned yoga pants may look fun for your next hot girl walk, take a close look at the fabric list before you don them down the street. Bonus if you find seamless pants with built-in panties or liners with special antibacterial fabric that can absorb extra sweat!

– Tight isn’t always right. An ultra-tight fit might make for a cute gym selfie, but sporting tight elastic seams in the groin area without the barrier of underwear might chafe the skin, leading to irritation or even abrasion, according to Dr. Dweck. Before hitting the racks, take a peek at your workout wardrobe and determine which bottoms are more comfortable and commando-conducive. 

– One-time use. While we love to save up for laundry day, if your nether regions are in direct contact with your pants, your gear is collecting bacteria quicker. Rewearing those sweaty pants is like rewearing your last pair of underwear. As soon as you’re done working out, make sure your leggings hit the hamper. 

parade workout thong

Photo: Parade

Our Panty Picks

If you’re opting to keep your extra layer while you hit the weight room or pick up the pace on the treadmill, keep materials in mind. Dr. Dweck recommends picking a pair with a cotton crotch for optimal comfort and aeration over pairs crafted with stretchy spandex, silk or lace. If your skin is sensitive, undies with technical moisture-wicking material in the crotch should be considered too.

Fit is also key. 

“Tight thongs, chafing elastic seams and synthetic materials might cause discomfort, irritation or a rash for those who have sensitive skin,” notes Dr. Dweck. So make sure you’re checking those size charts (spoiler alert: not all activewear follows the same size guidelines).

As you fill your digital shopping cart, here are a few of our favorite pairs to pack in your gym bag: 

girlfriend collective sport briefs pebble workout underwear

Photo: Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective Sport Brief – $18

Made with 80% recycled plastic bottles and with a moisture-wicking COOLMAX® liner at the gusset (the panel on underwear!), these classic-rise briefs are designed to stay put while you work out. 

Photo: Parade

Parade Sport+ Thong – $13

This quick-drying, barely-there pair’s organic cotton lining hugs your body, so the thong moves with you during your sweat session. 

Photo: Bombas

Bombas Women’s Active No Show Thong – $18

Bombas may be known for socks, but trust us: these sleek, panty line-proof undies are where it’s at. 


Photo: JIV Athletics

JIV Athletics Cameltoe Proof High Rise Thong – $34

Founded by a mother-daughter duo, these eco-conscious and breathable skivvies wick moisture and come with a patented insert that keeps your privates…well, private. 


Photo: Thinx

Thinx Sport Period Underwear – $35

For that time of the month, pick up these panties. With an exercise-ready fit, Thinx’ underwear offers medium absorbency so you can workout without fearing any leaking. 

*This post may contain referral links for products we love, and all opinions are our own. earns a small commission from these links, at no additional cost to you.


To Bare It All or Keep It Under Wraps?

At the end of the day, going commando or layering up during your workout is all up to personal preference and comfort levels. 

And, regardless if you are going bare beneath your bottoms or not, keeping it clean is key. 

“It is generally recommended to get out of wet and damp workout clothes as soon as you’re able to since yeast and bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments and may predispose you to infections or irritation,” Dr. Dweck says.

Commando or not, once you’ve wrapped your sweat session, be sure you are hitting the shower to clean off any lingering sweat in either your leggings or undies. 

So, which camp are you in – the commando crew or the pantied-up pack? Let us know in the comments. 

emily roethle signature writer




15 thoughts on “Should You Wear Underwear to Work Out…or Go Commando?”

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  1. Tiana says:

    I prefer thongs to anything. My mom is on the granny panties team and we’ve had a ton of arguments avo it that when I was a teen

  2. anonymous says:

    But if i workout commando, how should i wash my leegings, hot like for underwears or less hot like for typical clothes such as t-shirts?

  3. Jaimee says:

    Commando all the way! I will ONLY wear undies with dresses and flowy shorts. I even commando it in jeans!

  4. Allison says:

    I only wear underwear for spin classes because there’s so much sweat. I wear 100% cotton and take them off right after class. The rest of the time I go commando (when working out AND in my every day life).

    1. Emily Roethle says:

      Totally get the sweatiness of a spin class – I am always dripping! Do you find it comfy for every day life?

  5. Ashley says:

    I am definitely an undies person haha

    1. Emily Roethle says:

      It’s all about what makes you comfortable! Any top picks we can snag?

  6. Jam says:

    What are your favorite exercise clothing pieces that are commando safe?

    1. Emily Roethle says:

      Of course I’m biased but the PopFlex leggings are great for it based on the material and fit. Never had an issue! I do stay away from thinner items from sites like Amazon personally.

  7. Rene Loskot says:

    I always feel comfortable wearing my underwear while doing my exercises.

    1. Emily Roethle says:

      Glad you found your comfort level! Any to recommend for us?

  8. Kristyn says:

    Both? If I’m wearing looser shorts, I always wear undies but when it comes to leggings, I do whatever. To be honest, it usually comes down to whether I remembered to pack clean undies in my gym bag.

    1. Emily Roethle says:

      Ha, I love it! That’s often the same for me. I can skip with bike shorts, but have a harder time with loose shorts!

  9. Jen-Ai Notman says:

    Wow, now I kinda want to workout commando 🤔

    1. Emily Roethle says:

      Give it a go! Don’t knock til you try it 😉