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  1. #1
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    Getting the stink out?

    I've been noticing, and probably everyone else has also, that my cycling clothes have been moldy/mildewy after washing and don't seem to get clean anymore. It's bad enough that we tend to give them our own "fragrance" from riding, but this seems different in that all it takes is putting it on and the body heat releases the smell. Aside from the regular detergent in the machine I've also tried Oxyclean.

    Does anybody have any laundry tips for washing out jerseys?

    And while I'm asking, how do you clean a helmet? The straps are the worst.

  2. #2
    Fred-ish rogerstg's Avatar
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    Mold and mildew? Drape them over something after wearing to let them dry out if you're not washing them right away. Weird because the salty sweat and synthetic fabrics are not conducive to mold and mildew growth.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    ??? I have no issues like that and never really heard of that as a common problem, but soaking them in Oxiclean will get any odor out. I just Oxicleaned my old bike shoes and they came out smelling springtime fresh! Put a few table spoons of Oxiclean powder in a gallon of water and soak your items for a couple of hours. This works well for whitening up white items too, but won't affect colors.

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    Sports detergent is another option.

  5. #5
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    Where I live, UV radiation from the sun is a great natural sterilizer. You might not have that option.

    I've never tried bleaching cycling clothes, but if the problem is bad enough, you might want to try that as a last resort. Maybe a very weak solution to start with.

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    Try Arm & Hammer Super Washing Powder - add half a cup to your laundry in addition to your regular detergent. A big box of it is $2 + change and lasts a long time.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Periodically soaking in a vinegar and water filled tub works wonders for my paddling gear.

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    Try a "green" detergent called Charlie's Soap, the laundry product. Available at amazon and some vitamin and outdoor shops. Might have to run it through a couple of cycles the first time, as it also removes the old detergent and additive residues from clothes. It's one of the detergents recommended for cloth diapers, so....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
    Where I live, UV radiation from the sun is a great natural sterilizer. You might not have that option.

    I've never tried bleaching cycling clothes, but if the problem is bad enough, you might want to try that as a last resort. Maybe a very weak solution to start with.
    Polyester and bleach do not go well together. It tends to turn the fibers yellow.
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  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Only once have I had a top go moldy. It was put into storage for 3 months, and had gotten damp at some point during that time. One wash and it was OK again.

    Here's a thought ... how about drying your clothes? There are things called dryers or clothes lines for that purpose.

    And if you don't really mean that your clothes go moldy ... if you think they just have some sort of odd smell ... use a bit of Borax in with your detergent. It'll fix the problem for you.

  11. #11
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    The polypro undershirt I wear in cold weather wicks away the stinky bacterial ridden sweat of my underarms, then all the moisture evaporates and leaves concentrated stink like nothing I have ever encountered before. But one wash and the smell is gone until after the next wearing.

    My warm weather cycling clothes do not seem to suffer from this - or at least I have not noticed it, and I don't have any people who are close enough friends that would tell me.

    If you wash using real detergent (like Tide or All or ABC or whatever) with warm or hot water and hang to dry immediately afterwards then you should have no problems with stinky clothes. Obviously if you leave you clothes in the washer for more than a couple hours after washing you will likely get mouldy smelling clothes.

    I saw a commercial the other day about some product that cleans washing machines and the claim was that a dirty washing machine can make your clothes smell funny - I don't know if this is true, though... perhaps your cycling clothes are more prone to picking up this scent?

  12. #12
    Senior Member ottawa_adam's Avatar
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    Pre-soaking in a vinegar solution will take care of any such odours. It's quick, easy and inexpensive. Best of all, it's better for your body than any commercial chemical solutions.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ottawa_adam View Post
    Pre-soaking in a vinegar solution will take care of any such odours. It's quick, easy and inexpensive. Best of all, it's better for your body than any commercial chemical solutions.
    +1

    I use white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser so it gets added to the final rinse water in the machine. No stinky clothes.
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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCB0 View Post
    Obviously if you leave you clothes in the washer for more than a couple hours after washing you will likely get mouldy smelling clothes.

    I saw a commercial the other day about some product that cleans washing machines and the claim was that a dirty washing machine can make your clothes smell funny - I don't know if this is true, though... perhaps your cycling clothes are more prone to picking up this scent?
    Even if you take your clothes out of the washer and leave them in the basket for a few hours, without putting them directly into the dryer or hanging them, they'll develop a bad smell. Especially in hot humid weather.

    You've got to dry your clothes immediately.

    And as for the wash machine, if you're in a hot, humid climate, it's a good idea to leave the washer door open so it can dry inside, and maybe give it a bit of a wipe inside as well to help it dry quicker. Leave the door shut, and the inside of your wash machine will indeed stink.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DieselDan's Avatar
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    Could be that city water in the NYC.
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  16. #16
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    My washing machine started to get a bit mouldy because I stopped using a biological washing powder and was at low temp. My sister advised a wash with biological agent to kill the bugs in the system.

  17. #17
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    I'm much more of a laundry pro than a bike pro (am a grandma, LOL). Some HE (high efficiency) washing machines, especially front loaders, can develop a smell, because they use very little water and detergent residues build up on the outer drum, and start to grow bacteria and stink. That's why it's important to not use too much detergent, softener, etc. in them, and to run a tub-clean cycle with bleach every month. Some people have to use the machine cleaning products. The Charlie's Soap is a real detergent, but it is advertised as having no additives (brighteners, softeners, etc.) that would build up residues inside the machine, as many regular brand detergents have. I've had a front load HE for over two years and have never had a problem with an odor in the machine or clothes using that detergent (and I live in a hot, humid climate), so that's why I recommend it. I'm sure there are other good ones as well.

    Others have given many good tips: leave the washer door open, dry clothes immediately after washing them so they don't sour, use a little white vinegar in the rinse, etc.

    I'm assuming the OP doesn't have washing machine odor problems, just that odors don't wash out of his synthetic cycling clothes. (Synthetics can hold odors worse than other fabrics.) Try the Charlie's or some of the other products mentioned.

    Most importantly, don't let the damp, dirty clothes sit-- wash them soon after you take them off, and don't wait about drying them after you wash them. Sounds like you might be leaving the damp and maybe dirty clothes too long, allowing them to become gross! If that's not the problem, then try switching laundry products. HTH--
    Last edited by goagain; 08-20-12 at 12:22 PM.

  18. #18
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    Based on a recommendation from my dear wife (well it was more like a direct order not to be ignored) I simply wash them out when I get in the shower after a ride. I still wash them in the machine, I just try to give them a good rinsing to get the sweaty funk out while they are waiting.

  19. #19
    Senior Member demoncyclist's Avatar
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    Borax works better than OxiClean IMHO. No funky smelling clothes at my house.
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  20. #20
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    ....soak -white vinegar,like a couple of others said

  21. #21
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    AFAIK, Borax and Oxiclean work the same way. The key active ingredient is sodium perborate. Soaking in either should produce the same results, although I don't know what else is in off-the-shelf borax based cleaners or Oxiclean. They're relatively strong bases work by chemically disassembling microbes and odorants.

    White vinegar is, of course, a weak solution of acetic acid. Goes good on salad but I'm not sure what it does for laundry.
    Last edited by Looigi; 08-20-12 at 07:28 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member ottawa_adam's Avatar
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    I find the best solution is to hand-wash my cycling clothes immediately after use (ie, when I get home). I have never encountered an odour problem with the fabric this way.

  23. #23
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    I strip down in front of the washing machine and throw my riding clothes in and start the cycle (usually gentle cycle, Warm or coool water temp), then I get a shower. I prefer to line dry my riding clothes; so right on the line as soon as the washer is done. If I need some article a bit more quickly, I'll lay it flat on the bed under the ceiling fan (set to medium speed). That drys things amazingly well.

  24. #24
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    I'll have to sort through all of these suggestions and give a few a try.

    My washing machine is an HE front loader, and it gets overused and gets too much detergent. A while after we bought the machine we asked our housekeeper how much detergent she was using and she showed us about 3/4 cup, waaaayyyyyy too much. We still go through a lot of detergent it seems. We've run bleach cycles a few times, but I guess we need to do it more often. We also read somewhere that putting a few towels in with the bleach helps as they wipe it down as it goes. It doesn't get the outer drum though. Also, the door gasket is moldy. I'll use some spray on bleach on it.

    I always take everything out immediately, and this last time my wife put them out in the sun to dry. I'll try soaking in Oxyclean this time, last time I just washed with it.

    Has anybody used StarSan on clothes? Does anybody that isn't a homebrewer know what it is? It is an acid based no-rinse sanitizer that is used on everything and anything that may touch your beer after the boil. I've been using it a few years for brewing and have never had an infection. One would think it would kill everything in clothes too, but it may also cause them to disintegrate over time. I've gotten plenty of it on my clothes while working with the diluted product of 1oz to 5 gallons and nothing ever shows. Maybe I'll try it on an old jersey to see if the poly can withstand it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacster View Post
    I'll have to sort through all of these suggestions and give a few a try.

    My washing machine is an HE front loader, and it gets overused and gets too much detergent. A while after we bought the machine we asked our housekeeper how much detergent she was using and she showed us about 3/4 cup, waaaayyyyyy too much. We still go through a lot of detergent it seems. We've run bleach cycles a few times, but I guess we need to do it more often. We also read somewhere that putting a few towels in with the bleach helps as they wipe it down as it goes. It doesn't get the outer drum though. Also, the door gasket is moldy. I'll use some spray on bleach on it.

    I always take everything out immediately, and this last time my wife put them out in the sun to dry. I'll try soaking in Oxyclean this time, last time I just washed with it.

    Has anybody used StarSan on clothes? Does anybody that isn't a homebrewer know what it is? It is an acid based no-rinse sanitizer that is used on everything and anything that may touch your beer after the boil. I've been using it a few years for brewing and have never had an infection. One would think it would kill everything in clothes too, but it may also cause them to disintegrate over time. I've gotten plenty of it on my clothes while working with the diluted product of 1oz to 5 gallons and nothing ever shows. Maybe I'll try it on an old jersey to see if the poly can withstand it.
    Something I've heard with HE machines regarding smells, is that many of them do not vent properly with the door closed (when not in use, of course) and that it's a good idea to leave the door open so the inside of the washing machine dries properly, avoiding mold/mildew/microbe growth problems. I've heard, but cannot confirm. take it with a grain of salt.
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