You may despair of sweat smells clinging to your clothes. Everyday ones, but also, in particular, those that you wore during your sports session. Despite your efforts to eradicate them by experimenting with various detergents and an endless number of wash cycles, these odors seem impossible to eliminate. The explanation behind these odors is different than you might think and there are methods to get rid of them.
According to Sarah Clemence, founder of the website Busy Blooming Joy, “the smell of your clothes has more to do with bacteria than the sweat itself.” She explains in a HuffPost article that our skin naturally harbors bacteria that develop, especially when we are hot or when we exert ourselves. When we sweat, especially in synthetic clothing, the humidity and heat create an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. These feed on our sweat and produce waste, causing the characteristic smell of sports clothing.
To avoid this scourge and get rid of these odors for good, there are several steps to follow. And the third is too often overlooked.
1. Choosing the right material, at the time of purchase, plays a major role. Whenever possible, avoid synthetic materials. Synthetic fabrics, like polyester, are primarily made of plastic. However, this material tends to retain odors because it is not absorbent. Clothes specially designed for performance allow some to wick away sweat, but they are made from materials conducive to the development of odors. Therefore, prefer natural fibers, such as cotton, which do not trap odors.
2. Timing matters too. Leaving your dirty clothes lying around can be tempting when you’re tired, but it’s a mistake you should absolutely avoid to avoid odors. This neglect can even encourage the formation of micro-mold, which would make the odor even worse. If you can’t wash your clothes right away, at least be sure to hang them out to dry when you get home.
3. But there is one method that everyone agrees with : soak your things in white vinegar before washing them! Jennifer Kropf, editorial director of Healthy Happy Impactful, recommends “replacing your regular laundry detergent with a vinegar soak before washing.” Vinegar is a natural and effective way to break down oils and neutralize bacteria. To try this method, immerse your clothes in distilled white vinegar for 10 to 30 minutes before washing them normally.
4. Detergent can also be adapted. Jennifer Kropf points out that there are detergents designed specifically for sportswear. Unlike regular detergents, which remove stains and dirt from regular clothes, these products are more powerful. They are designed to more aggressively remove odors. Many major brands offer their own range of sports detergents. However, avoid using fabric softeners, as they can clog fibers and trap bacteria.
5. Anti-bacteria drying exists! The sun is a natural enemy of bacteria. If you hang your clothes out in the sun for a few hours, ideally with wind, they will dry more quickly, which slows down the development of microbes. Our expert explains: “Wet clothes can become a breeding ground for bacteria, so make sure they are completely dry before storing them.”