Remove the smell of sweat from clothes

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Some of your shirts and sports clothes smell unpleasantly of sweat, even though you just washed them freshly? This is not only uncomfortable, but also annoying, because good sports and functional clothing is not cheap and should therefore last as long as possible. So what to do if your clothes smell unpleasantly of sweat even though they are fresh out of the washing machine? Throw away? Just not! We’ll tell you how to get rid of the smell and what you can do to prevent your laundry from getting stinky in the first place.

Where does the smell of sweat come from?

We all know: Fresh sweat does not stink. It is an odorless liquid that consists mainly of water and salt. The bacteria are much more to blame for the odor: These are located on the skin and there are well over 100 different bacteria. When they multiply, for example, in the warm, moist area of the armpits, you start to smell unpleasantly. When you sweat, the moisture is transferred to your clothes along with the odor that has already developed, and they also begin to smell.

Not all clothes smell the same intensity, knows Dr. Timo Hammer, head of the William Küster Institute for Hygiene, Environment and Medicine, part of the Hohenstein Institute: “How strongly a textile smells of sweat depends firstly on how many sweat odor molecules the textile absorbs and secondly on how many of these molecules are released again over time and are therefore perceived as an unpleasant odor.”

Why do sports clothes still smell after washing?

Despite fragrant detergents, workout outfits often don’t smell any better after washing than before. The problem: Most sports clothes should not be washed hotter than 30 or 40 degrees, according to the label. The result: “Perspiration odor molecules can adhere to the textile. As soon as heat is added, for example during sports or ironing, the clothes can quickly smell of sweat again,” explains the expert. So cold washes are rarely effective for sportswear.

“Purely from a hygienic point of view and to avoid the odor applies when washing: The hotter, the better,” says the expert. However, you should still follow the manufacturer’s washing recommendations. Tip: Treat your clothes to a hot wash every now and then – but not too often, to protect the fibers. Alternative: Simply add a little citric acid or vinegar to the detergent during the next wash cycle. The acid removes the odor-causing bacteria. 

Which substances are best suited to avoid unpleasant odors? 

“Odor substances adhere differently to different types of fibers and thus also evaporate at different rates,” explains expert Hammer.

Synthetic fibers such as polyester

The most important property of functional clothing: efficiently wick sweat away from the body. Here the experts speak of the so-called capillarity, an effect in which the sweat is transported through the pores of the fiber to the outside. It can then evaporate on the surface of the clothing. Artificial fabrics such as spandex and polyester in particular have this important property. The problem: with synthetic fibers, odor molecules also get to the outside more easily and penetrate right up to our noses.

Merino wool as sportswear

Alternative on the fabric market: Merino wool. The fabric should still smell pleasant even after repeated wear, because the protein molecules (creatine) contained in it prevent bacteria from multiplying. In addition, merino wool absorbs sweat quickly, the bacteria have little time to decompose the sweat and remain on the skin due to the fiber structure of the wool. The problem: merino wool absorbs a lot of sweat, so it is not suitable for very intense activities and in the heat. The shirt is quickly wet. Better: Cocona fiber, which is based on activated charcoal (e.g.B. made from coconut shells). This should dry as quickly as synthetic fiber. 

With silver against perspiration odor

Some fabrics contain nano-silver particles that are supposed to prevent odors. “Silver, when used correctly, is effective against bacteria. This means that the number of bacteria on the textile is reduced, which can also have a positive effect on the development of odors for a certain time,” explains Hammer. When worn, silver ions are released, which in turn kill bacteria. But the effect only lasts for a certain time. Plus: the ions kill all sorts of bacteria on the skin, which can potentially cause problems for sensitive skin. Other health effects on humans are still unclear, which is why you should better use silver-free substances when in doubt. 

Lets sweat odor prevented altogether?

Everybody sweats during sports. That is a fact. But we all sweat to different degrees – depending on our disposition and lifestyle habits. There is no miracle cure for perspiration odor, because sooner or later the odor-causing bacteria multiply. Fortunately, however, this can be effectively prevented with thorough body hygiene. “You should make sure to reduce the bacteria on your skin in the heavily sweating areas even before you exercise, by washing your underarms and using antiperspirants,” advises Hammer.

This means that it takes longer for perspiration odor to develop. This can be very different. How strong the odor of sweat is depends on numerous individual factors, such as nutrition. How well the odor substances can be removed depends on one’s own “mixture” – whether they are water-soluble or fat-soluble substances. This is different for each person. 

When should I change my sportswear?

Even with expensive sportswear, the day will come when you have to part with it. If, despite our tips and washing recommendations, the stench (possibly even in the closet itself) doesn’t go away, it’s time to sort out the item. To make sure that day is still a long way off, keep the following tips in mind for the future:

7 tips against stinky sports clothes

1. Use the right detergent

In any case, do not use mild detergent! These clog the fine pores of the fabric of the clothes, the breathability is limited and sweat can be wicked away from the body less easily. Best suited are special detergents for sportswear. These cover the odors more intensively than others. Hygiene and sports detergents bind the substances and even kill the bacteria in some cases. Hammer: “In general: full detergent is better than color detergent, the higher the temperature, the more effective.”  

2. Air and wash immediately after exercise

Clothes after each kind of sport best immediately wash, so that unpleasant smells cannot develop at all. No time? Then hang the sweaty clothes in the fresh air to dry. If damp clothes are left lying around for a long time, sweat can become trapped in the fabrics and is even harder to remove. It also helps to soak your clothes in water immediately after training and then dry them well, preferably in the sun: “Bacteria multiply less easily in dry conditions and under UV radiation and are killed,” explains Hammer.  

3. Wash the sports shoes

If your shoes smell too, it’s time for a cleaning. Wash your running shoes best in a laundry bag at 30 degrees. Fine detergent and the lowest spin cycle of the machine protect against damage. Then put the shoes outside and stuff them with paper. Here you can find even more tips on how to clean your sneakers.  

4. Also clean the sports bag

Empty the bag immediately after the workout and let it air out for a short while. You should wash the fabric once a month with mild shampoo. To clean the inside as well, turn the bag inside out and then let it dry well. “It is advisable to buy sports bags that you can wash in the washing machine, preferably at 60 degrees,” says the expert. In any case: let them air dry afterwards, also turned inside out. Here you can find trendy gym bags.

5. Shaving the armpits

Shaving your armpits is a woman’s job? Not at all! Regular hair removal helps counteract foul odors. Shaving does not prevent sweating, but bacteria cannot multiply so easily. Because these do not only sit on the skin, but also attach themselves to the hairs under the armpits. Shaving helps to reduce the surface and the breeding ground of the germs and thus effectively counteracts the odor.

6. Wash now and then at risk

Most bacteria cannot be destroyed even at 40 degrees Celsius. Wash your clothes on 60 degrees every now and then – but not too often to preserve the fiber. Exception: clothes with spandex should not be washed too hot, as this can destroy the fibers.

7. Home remedies for sweat stains and odors

Fortunately, a few simple home remedies can help against annoying sweat stains, especially on white clothing. For example, a self-mixed vinegar solution: the remedy is very aggressive, but efficient in the fight against the unsightly edges. Alternatively, citric acid is suitable. Just let your clothes soak for half an hour in a 1:4 mixing ratio with water. Then wash the clothes thoroughly in the machine. Tip from the expert: “Use bile soap to get rid of fat-soluble odor molecules that are sometimes difficult to remove during washing.”

By the way: By the way, you can save the freezer as a home remedy against sweat bacteria. The freezing temperatures kill some bacteria, but in turn only put others into a kind of hibernation. When it gets warm again, they resume their work.

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Alicia Vargo Author
Consultant seller in an off-line sex toy store
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