Why do your sweaty clothes smell so bad, and what can you do about them?
Its all about your sweat
The watery slightly salty sweat you get all over your body when it’s hot is not the culprit. It doesn’t really smell bad. The bad stuff is the fatty sweat that comes from glands in your pits and groin. This sweat wont actually smell much, however will act as a food source for the bacteria, fungal and viral “army” living on your skin – your skin’s microbiome.
This army will eat the fatty sweat, and the molecular leftovers of their feeding frenzy cause the stink – your BO. Your skin’s biome will also eat dead skin cells, eg from your feet.
The leftover compounds cling on to the fibres of your clothes, socks, shoes, etc and may even transfer to your sports bag. Hence you end up with stinky gear.
The material you wear also matters. Natural fibres like cotton, linen and leather are water-loving. Have you noticed that when you sweat, your clothes absorb the sweat and get heavy and damp. If not dried properly, damp clothes, towels, etc allow bacteria and fungi like mould and mildew to thrive, creating a musty body odour.
Polyester or synthetic fabric made with man-made fibres is even worse. A lot of gym and work wear is made from polyester which is water-hating. Gym and workwear brands promote their sweat-wicking technology that soaks up the sweat and quickly evaporates the moisture, keeping you dry. However, while getting rid of the watery compounds, polyester fibres hold the fatty, smelly compounds, causing a particularly foul smelling odour. Odour on polyester fabric is more repulsive than your body odour on natural fibres.
How we wash our clothes also matters
The next challenge comes from how we wash our clothes.
While saving energy and preserving the quality of our clothes, cold water washes are not good at removing the BO from our stinky gear. High efficiency washers that use less water mean stink compounds are more likely to be left on polyester and less likely to kill the odour-causing bacteria.
In fact, using a wash cycle of 30 Celsius or below, a budget detergent and regular wash cycle will probably consistently fail to kill or even remove the problem bacteria.
Want less stink? Here’s what to do
Get your clothes clean – use a good quality detergent that is effective to remove dirt and grime even in cold water. Use a long enough wash to ensure the washing machine effectively has the time to clean the clothing.
Have a clean washing machine – regularly clean your machine to ensure build up is removed. Don’t use fabric softener which is not good for the machine, your clothes and the environment. We will discuss this in another blog.
Use Bio 612+ Fabric Shield – this anti-bacterial uses BioProtectTM technology to bond onto the fabric and form an invisible barrier to continually protect your fabric from bacteria and microbes for up to 12 months or 50 washes.
Bacteria causing odour is treated on contact with the fabric on a continual basis to remove or reduce the production of foul odours. The protection remains, even with repeated laundering.
We recommend new clothing items, gym gear, sports shoes, underwear, etc be treated with Bio 612+ Fabric Shield before being worn.
Bio 612+ Fabric Shield is an effective way to wash clothes and gym shoe items less and on a more gentle wash to maintain clean and fresh items.