How To Get The Embarrassing Smell of Sweat Out Of Clothes

Everyone sweats. It’s the body’s way of regulating itself. Changes in the body’s temperature, external factors, exercising, and even emotional state contribute to sweating. Indeed, sweating is as normal as breathing. 

Sweating is important. Sweat’s only major drawback is the smell it leaves on clothes, even after they are washed and dried. Sweat smell is evident in workout clothes. During strenuous physical activity, the body produces more sweat that can drench your clothes leading to unappealing body odor. 

Workout clothes have moisture-wicking properties. It means its fabric gets rid of the moisture it comes into contact with. This same property makes them quite tricky to wash to get rid of odor-causing bacteria. But you don’t have to fret as we share some tips on how you can get rid of the sweat smell out of clothes. 

What Causes The Smell of Sweat on Clothes

Sweat is the major contributor to body odor and sweat smell on clothes. The body has an average of three million sweat glands. The sweat glands that release a thicker, fat-laden sweat are called apocrine. These sweat glands are on the armpits, hair follicles, and groin area. Body odor happens when sweat from the apocrine glands breaks down and mixes with bacteria on the skin. 

Gym clothes and other sweat-soaked laundry are good examples of an environment that is conducive as a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria. The chance of sweat smell from clothes increases when they are left damp in the laundry basket before washing. And when sweaty clothes are not dealt with and washed properly, the sweat smell can linger for long.

How To Get Rid of The Smell of Sweat on Clothes

Don’t Use Fabric Softeners on Gym Clothes

Most gym clothes use polyester and elastics. These types of fabric have moisture-wicking properties that draw sweat out of the body. A fabric softener acts as a barrier that locks in the smell of sweat. When fabric softener is added during the wash cycle, it prevents sweat on clothes from evaporating. 

Moreover, fabric softener can break down elastic materials found in workout clothes. Thus, it can ruin the way your gym clothes fit. 

Limit Your Use Of Laundry Detergent

Using excess detergent will not mask the sweaty smell of workout clothes. It will do the exact opposite. 

Polyester and elastics (such as Spandex or Lycra) are man-made fibers. Man-made fibers are interwoven tightly. Hence, bacteria get trapped easily in them. Ordinary detergent can’t get inside the fibers. Instead, detergent can get trapped along with odor-causing bacteria. The buildup prevents the moisture-wicking properties of these fabrics from working. You can use half the amount of detergent you use, or you can skip it totally and use alternatives instead. 

Hang Dry Used Gym Clothes if You Can’t Wash Them Right Away

Doing the laundry after the gym is not easy. Workout clothes usually end up straight on the hamper or even inside gym bags before washing. Bacteria thrive on damp and sweaty clothes. 

This habit of letting sweaty clothes sit in the hamper for long makes them a good breeding ground for bacterial growth. It makes the sweat smell get worse and linger even after washing. 

The best thing you can do is to hang your workout clothes. Allow the sweaty garments to air dry before tossing them in the washing machine. By letting the clothes dry, you reduce their bacterial growth.

Wash Them Immediately When They’re Sweaty

Workout clothes need to be washed every after use. If you’ve sweat profusely after a workout session, it’s best to throw your soiled clothes in the washer and wash them right away. When clothes are dripping with sweat, it’s best to wash them immediately. Doing so will make sure that smell-causing bacteria don’t stay on them for long.

Put Them in the Freezer

This is a trick I often use whenever I travel and can’t do the laundry immediately. I put my soiled clothes in a plastic bag and shove them in the freezer. Cold temperatures slow down the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Just make sure that you don’t forget the clothes in the freezer altogether and wash them once you have the time. 

Add Baking Soda

Baking soda is a cupboard staple that can get rid of odors. Sweat is acidic, while baking soda is a pH neutralizer. Because of this property, baking soda can neutralize the acid found in sweat stains and remove its odor. 

To use as a deodorizer, combine baking soda with warm water and make a paste. You can then rub the paste on the clothes’ armpits or other areas soaked in sweat. Leave the paste on the fabric for not less than 15 minutes up to overnight. You can wash the garment as normal or add a cup of baking soda during the wash cycle to say goodbye to smelly clothes. 

Soak In A White Vinegar Solution Before Washing

Vinegar is not just great for cooking but is also an effective cleaner. It can also get rid of harsh odors on clothes, including smoke and body odor. 

To remove the sweat smell from clothes, fill the sink with cold water and add one cup of white vinegar. Soak your sweaty gym clothes in vinegar and cold water solution for 15 to 30 minutes. After soaking, you can wash your clothes in the washing machine. It also works great if you add some vinegar as you do the laundry to keep the fabric smelling cleaner and feeling softer.

Use Lemon Juice

The citric acid found in lemon has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. It means lemon juice can eliminate odors and stink from smelly clothes. 

To use as a deodorizer, take a lemon and squeeze its juice out in a sink filled with warm water. Soak the garments in the solution for at least 30 minutes and rinse with cool water. You can then wash the items in the washer afterward. Doing so will get the sweat smell out of the clothes. 

Wash Clothes Inside Out

Gym clothes are sweaty and oily, especially on the inside. Before washing sweaty workout attires, make sure that you toss them in the washer inside out. Read here to learn more about why it’s better to wash your clothes inside out. 

How To Prevent The Smell of Sweat on Clothes

You don’t have to wait until you smell a foul odor from your clothes’ armpit area. Here are a few tips and hygienic practices you could do to stay clear of sweat smell or body odor. 

  • Reduce sweat buildup by shaving or waxing your armpits regularly. Remember that odor clings onto hair follicles.
  • Try wearing an undershirt under your dress shirt. The undershirt will absorb sweat before it reaches your more expensive dress shirt. 
  • Take a shower regularly. Take a shower at the end of the day to remove sweat, oil, and dirt from your skin.
  • Instead of using a regular deodorant, use an antiperspirant. Antiperspirants prevent you from sweating profusely. The less sweat, the less the chance of getting body odor.
  • Wear your gym clothes once and wash them as soon as possible.
  • If you can’t wash your sweaty gym clothes immediately, allow them to air dry first before you toss them in the laundry basket. 

In Conclusion

Sweating is normal, but freshly washed clothes that smell like sweat are not cool. It’s best to prevent sweat smell on clothes, so you don’t have to deal with them. However, if you are already facing this dilemma, our post will guide you in eliminating the sweat smell out of clothes.

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About Margaret Croom

Peggy is a contributor and editor at Tidy Diary. She is a proud mother of three children who inspired her to level up her tidying skills. She enjoys her me time by lounging in her favorite nook with a lovely cup of tea. She also keeps a handy diary.