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  1. #1
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    Synthetic cycling clothing - how can I stop the sweaty stench?

    I am a messenjero, and I don't expect my base layers and jerseys to smell good after a day's work, but sometimes they start to smell really bad even after just 1 hour on the bike!

    This is what I tried last week:

    1. After work, I poured antiseptic disinfectant on the armpits of the clothes, scrunched them together to get a lather, left them for a bit then washed them in a basin of warm water with more disinfectant added.

    2. Removed them from the water, poured washing liquid on the armpits, scrunched up to lather, then put in the wash as usual

    3. Once washed, hang them to dry immediately

    4. Spray deodorant on the armpits of the clothes before putting them on

    5. Ensure my armpits are always clean and deodorised before putting the clothes on (I never wear them unless I've showered and first) - I even used antiseptic disinfectant on my armpits while showering once

    I did all that, but they still stank to high heaven after wearing them for a couple of hours. WTF?!

    Spraying deodorant on my armpits a few times throughout the day does help to mask the smell, and probably helps prevent further stinkage production. But this obviously uses up way too much deodorant. The stuff ain't cheap!

    Apart from shaving my armpits what else can I do to stop my clothes stinking of B.O.?!?!
    Last edited by MessenJah; 01-19-08 at 05:21 AM.

  2. #2
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Shave your pits. It works wonders for keeping the stink away. After a week of being clean shaven you'll never want bush there again.

  3. #3
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    Hi there Messenjah,

    When I started off commuting, I purchased a ton of synthetics...but I dropped them all because of that problem. I've now moved to MERINO WOOL. It is lightweight and DOES NOT SMELL. I arrive at work, sweaty but not stinky. When I leave work, my clothes are smell free. I'm in the process of slowly buying more merino material. It's $$$$ though,.

  4. #4
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Lose the synthetics and go with wool.

  5. #5
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    It depends on the type of synthetic fabric.

    I had a Mountain Hardwear Wicked-T that stank like the smelliest cheese you can think of (and caused me to stink too ) no matter how I washed it. That is, it was fine after the wash but developed a really, really foul smell when I used/sweated in it.

    I switched to Lowe Alpine and Under Armor wicking tops and no more foul smell problem.
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  6. #6
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    Thanks for the suggestion of Merino wool - I am fully aware of it and its benefits, but I simply cannot afford it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey
    Shave your pits. It works wonders for keeping the stink away. After a week of being clean shaven you'll never want bush there again.
    I used to shave my pits before going to music festivals (particularly Glastonbury) just in case I didn't get chance to shower - it worked wonders then, but then I was wearing cotton at the time. Still, I might just try it - it seems like the only option at the monent.

  7. #7
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    You might also try this stuff.
    http://www.thecrystal.com/browse.cfm/MCID/1
    Doesn't stop sweat, but is pretty effective at stopping smell.
    I noticed my clothes don't smell either, and I was picking up some of the problem you have. It's also economical, in that it lasts along time and doesn't have the tendency for that burning sensation you get with HD antiperspirants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
    You might also try this stuff.
    http://www.thecrystal.com/browse.cfm/MCID/1
    Doesn't stop sweat, but is pretty effective at stopping smell.
    I noticed my clothes don't smell either, and I was picking up some of the problem you have. It's also economical, in that it lasts along time and doesn't have the tendency for that burning sensation you get with HD antiperspirants.
    From what I gather, that stuff is the same as Pitrok - ammonium alum crystal. Have used it before but its effectiveness declines over time

  9. #9
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MessenJah View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion of Merino wool - I am fully aware of it and its benefits, but I simply cannot afford it.

    I used to shave my pits before going to music festivals (particularly Glastonbury) just in case I didn't get chance to shower - it worked wonders then, but then I was wearing cotton at the time. Still, I might just try it - it seems like the only option at the monent.
    Wear a tee shirt while cycling then. Why be a slave to fashion? Release your inner Fred.

    Besides, all the cool kids wear tee shirts.

  10. #10
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    Wash the clothes in borax. It seems to have worked quite well on some polyester work clothes I have.

    From what I understand, the smell comes from organisms that thrive in the sweaty environment and get into the clothes. I think the antifungal nature of borax kills off the smelly organisms. Twenty Mule Team Borax is cheap and available in supermarkets.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    I find that bike clothes respond best to detergent right after riding. After a ride, the sweat is still moist on the clothes. Since you're a messenger, it might be difficult to remove the clothes during working hours. But I would try to soak the clothes a little longer, maybe even over night.

  12. #12
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MessenJah View Post
    From what I gather, that stuff is the same as Pitrok - ammonium alum crystal. Have used it before but its effectiveness declines over time
    Do you mean the crystal becomes less effective or it has less of an effect on *you*?

    I've been using it for about 8 months and noticed no drop off in odor control. Yes, it is ammonium alum.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    I add a cup of white vinegar to the wash and that usually kills any smell. Can add it to the wash or rinse cycle. Changing soaps also make a difference...no dyes, perfumes/fragrance, or softeners. X-O Odor Neutralizer is another product that works.

  14. #14
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    save a few quid and switch to wool.

    buy one wool t-shirt. then another, add a few thrift store sweaters, and you're set.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey View Post
    Wear a tee shirt while cycling then. Why be a slave to fashion? Release your inner Fred.

    Besides, all the cool kids wear tee shirts.
    My choice of clothing has nothing to do with fashion.

    Have you ever worn a cotton t-shirt while cycling (hard) all day?

    Did you not notice the fact that it didn't dry?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
    Do you mean the crystal becomes less effective or it has less of an effect on *you*?

    I've been using it for about 8 months and noticed no drop off in odor control. Yes, it is ammonium alum.
    I mean it is less effective at doing its job, i.e. being a deodorant.

  17. #17
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MessenJah View Post
    I mean it is less effective at doing its job, i.e. being a deodorant.
    That's weird, I have no problem, but then again, I don't ride as hard as you I guess.

    Did you have the habit of using on wet skin straight out of the shower? This is the easiest way to use it, but maybe it can lead to "contamination" of the surface. I wonder if giving the stick a thorough wash in cold water might do some good?

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    Can you buy acetic acid where you live? In that case: Soak them in water with acetic acid for about 20 minutes before washing them.
    About 200 ml of acetic acid (24%) in 10 liters of water. May cause discoloring. The smell of the acetic acid goes away along with the smell of sweat. I don't know if it's sold as acetic acid, or under other brand names where you live.

    Vinegar, as Sci-Fi recommends, contains acetic acid, so that might be an alternative.

    I haven't washed my merino sweater yet this year. Still smells nothing.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canti View Post
    Can you buy acetic acid where you live? In that case: Soak them in water with acetic acid for about 20 minutes before washing them.
    About 200 ml of acetic acid (24%) in 10 liters of water. May cause discoloring. The smell of the acetic acid goes away along with the smell of sweat. I don't know if it's sold as acetic acid, or under other brand names where you live.

    Vinegar, as Sci-Fi recommends, contains acetic acid, so that might be an alternative.

    I haven't washed my merino sweater yet this year. Still smells nothing.
    Other people have suggested vinegar to me, I might try that.

    Quote Originally Posted by coldfeet View Post
    That's weird, I have no problem, but then again, I don't ride as hard as you I guess.

    Did you have the habit of using on wet skin straight out of the shower? This is the easiest way to use it, but maybe it can lead to "contamination" of the surface. I wonder if giving the stick a thorough wash in cold water might do some good?
    Yeah, I rinse it before and after using it.

  20. #20
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    as said...switch to wool and you can end stench once and for all

  21. #21
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    Aluminium chlorohydrate in alcohol/water solution applied in your armpits right after a shower, as soon as they're dry.

    That stops me sweating entirely there for a couple of days. No smell at all!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by edzo View Post
    as said...switch to wool and you can end stench once and for all
    $4.00 for a heap of washes in borax (probably a year's worth) versus $???? for wool, even bought at the op-shops.

    And all those chemicals going into your body via home concoctions and your sweat glands -- uggghhhh!

    The man said he didn't want to buy a new wardrobe, but wanted a solution to the smell already in his clothes.

    Trust me... a dose of borax in every couple of washes will help. Borax is used in home insulation to stop mould and other nasties developing. IIRC, when it is mixed with honey or a sugar syrup, it is an effective ant killer. Make sure it is well rinsed out of your clothes -- you don't want it getting into *your* body.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  23. #23
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I don't get it. On the few ocassions I ride in street clothes; that is when the stink is intolerable. The thickness of cotton fiber compared to synthetics, just does not make sense. I'd think the problem must be with your choice of soap. .

  24. #24
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    I suspect that something is irritating your skin which exacerbates the problem. This could be your soap, deodorant, laundry detergent, or something in the fabric. Perfumes and dyes are common irritants.

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    OK now, the real deal (2)

    you need to soak your stuff in bleach to kill the stuff that won't die by any washing methods
    you have tried thus far

    and bleach will destroy your stuff, so plan B

    you need to boil a lobster pot of water, and then turn off the heat
    and drop your stankass clothes in there for 5 minutes

    that should kill the stink for 2 rides at least.

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