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Stinky Commuter Clothes!

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Stinky Commuter Clothes!

Old 08-01-12, 11:35 AM
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kangchen
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Stinky Commuter Clothes!

Hi all,

I'm new to this forum and commuting on bike (been 3 months now). A friend suggested I post my question on here.

I ride to and from work and, as of now, am just wearing compression shorts, sports bra, and a cotton or North Face moisture wick shirt. I'm a naturally sweaty person so even though it's just 6 miles, I'm pretty soaked by the time I arrive. I change and shower at the gym and then hang my clothes on a hanger under my desk to air out. I love commuting on my bike but the problem is that by the time the day ends and it's time to go home, my clothes STINK.

It's not that big of a deal but it is slightly uncomfortable (sometimes the clothes are still damp) and it particularly sucks if I have to make a stop b/w work and home (store, appointments, etc.) and I have to be that stinky person. Plus, on particularly bad days, the smell might waft up from under the desk and who knows who in my office thinks I'm gross!

Any suggestions on how to air out clothes? I'm thinking about investing in some bike shorts but not sure about shirts, bras, etc.

Thanks!
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Old 08-01-12, 11:42 AM
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If you can swing the purchase price, a nice merino t-shirt or cycling jersey won't get smelly.
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Old 08-01-12, 11:44 AM
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Cotton takes forever to dry and synthetic material tends to smell. Shower before the ride, take it easy on the ride in, wear wool. Wool doesn't retain odor like other material.
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Old 08-01-12, 12:19 PM
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The shower in the AM is number one I think. The smell comes from bacteria on your body then it attaches to the clothes and now the clothes smell. If you shower BEFORE getting sweaty then there is nothing to cause the funk. I have Nike Dri-Fit shirts that I wear and I shower as soon as I get up and no funk at the end of the day. It seems odd to shower before getting all sweaty but it works. Maybe you could wash your clothes in the gym shower, wring them out and let them dry under the desk. Should kill the stinkies.

Or put on a load of sunscreen before you leave. That'll cover some of the funk up.

...or who cares if you are that stinky person on the ride home. I would guess by the attire most would be able to discern that you are/were "working out" to some degree and would expect it. We can't always smell like roses.

Grats on riding for the last 3 months and welcome to the forum BTW.
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Old 08-01-12, 12:34 PM
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Showering before the morning ride has worked for me, too. I end up showering twice on bicycle commute days (before the morning ride and after the evening ride home). I'm not crazy about showering twice a day, but it is offset by all the great benefits of commuting by bicycle (fitness, weight loss, save gas money, no miles in a car, etc.). I haven't tried the wool suggestion yet, but plan to do so at some point. Keep at it and try different things; you will find what works for you.

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Old 08-01-12, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by ckaspar View Post
The shower in the AM is number one I think. The smell comes from bacteria on your body then it attaches to the clothes and now the clothes smell. If you shower BEFORE getting sweaty then there is nothing to cause the funk. I have Nike Dri-Fit shirts that I wear and I shower as soon as I get up and no funk at the end of the day. It seems odd to shower before getting all sweaty but it works. Maybe you could wash your clothes in the gym shower, wring them out and let them dry under the desk. Should kill the stinkies.

Or put on a load of sunscreen before you leave. That'll cover some of the funk up.

...or who cares if you are that stinky person on the ride home. I would guess by the attire most would be able to discern that you are/were "working out" to some degree and would expect it. We can't always smell like roses.

Grats on riding for the last 3 months and welcome to the forum BTW.

Shower before you go and problem is solved! When you get to work, wipe down with baby wipes.

Change your shirt out to a cycling jersey. They dry quickly.
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Old 08-01-12, 12:45 PM
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These are all amazing tips that I hadn't thought of! Thanks! I'm so glad I joined the Forum!
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Old 08-01-12, 01:14 PM
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Does your gym or office have one of these?


DRYING MY SHORTS by 1nterceptor, on Flickr
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Old 08-01-12, 01:28 PM
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bring a set of riding clothes for the ride home. when you arrive at work, strip and place all used sweaty clothing in a plastic bag which you will cary home for washing. when you get home wash both sets. if you commute every day you may want to purchase some additional sets.

Last edited by rumrunn6; 08-02-12 at 08:58 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 08-01-12, 01:51 PM
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merino socks, merino t shirt... shower before you leave, and be well hydrated before you leave your house in the AM... you will sweat less.

the merino stuff can be washed every one to two weeks. Merino wicks better than poly blends.
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Old 08-01-12, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
Does your gym or office have one of these?


DRYING MY SHORTS by 1nterceptor, on Flickr

great idea!
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Old 08-01-12, 07:32 PM
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Technical fabrics have denser weave that makes them superior in wicking. Unfortunately, it also provides safe harbor for bacteria that conventional washing can not remove.

Time for chemical warfare! I wash my commuter clothes - regular jersey, yoga bra and padded shorts - together with family undies using ALL-Oxy, unscented.

From time to time I treat the entire load to a second wash cycle with either Oxy-Clean or Borax. Both are good in killing bacteria. This treatment requires extra rinse cycle due to high pH of both Borax and Oxy-Clean.

Good luck and welcome to the forum!
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Old 08-01-12, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by sci_femme View Post
Technical fabrics . . . Unfortunately, it also provides safe harbor for bacteria that conventional washing can not remove.
True, but I've had good success using normal detergent by letting the clothes soak for up to 30 minutes at the end of the wash cycle. It gives those enzymes the extra time needed.

The simple way to do this is to let the clothes wash with the cover open. It stops at the spin cycle. After they've soaked a while, just close the lid and the wash cycle will finish.
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Old 08-01-12, 08:23 PM
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Yep - any light wool you can wear will really help. Even on just 2 day hikes (think hot, sweat, swampy water) our synthitic socks would clear the camp grounds the 1st night, but after switching to wool all the funk went away. And wash your clothes in the shower, then use those synthitic cheap super-towels to get most of the water out and hang under your desk with a small fan to help dry?
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Old 08-01-12, 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by sci_femme View Post
Technical fabrics have denser weave that makes them superior in wicking. Unfortunately, it also provides safe harbor for bacteria that conventional washing can not remove.

Time for chemical warfare! I wash my commuter clothes - regular jersey, yoga bra and padded shorts - together with family undies using ALL-Oxy, unscented.

From time to time I treat the entire load to a second wash cycle with either Oxy-Clean or Borax. Both are good in killing bacteria. This treatment requires extra rinse cycle due to high pH of both Borax and Oxy-Clean.

Good luck and welcome to the forum!
If you want a more natural, healthier approach, you can also add a bit of plain white vinegar to your wash - or presoak your clothes in a water/vinegar solution prior to putting them in the wash. This works like a charm with synthetics.
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Old 08-01-12, 09:56 PM
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My advice? Slow down if you can afford it.
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Old 08-01-12, 10:16 PM
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Take them in the shower with you to wash. Then hang them up to dry and if they don't dry by the time work ends, no worries you have nice cool clothes to wear on the hot ride home.
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Old 08-01-12, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by ottawa_adam View Post
If you want a more natural, healthier approach, you can also add a bit of plain white vinegar to your wash - or presoak your clothes in a water/vinegar solution prior to putting them in the wash. This works like a charm with synthetics.
Except that vinegar neutralizes detergent...better to put it in the rinse instead of fabric softener.
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Old 08-01-12, 10:47 PM
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Part of my job requires me to visit various parts of the office. I remember I was once walking around the building and walked upon some funk. I thought we had some kind of chemical spill...turns out it was the funk some guy's riding clothes. I smelled that jersey and shorts from like 30 ft away and my sense of smell isn't good.

Can you take the clothes in the shower with you and wash it with a bit of soap and then ring it out real good?

Maybe use Dr Bronners soap for shower and washing your riding clothes at the gym.
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Old 08-02-12, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by kangchen View Post
Hi all,

I'm new to this forum and commuting on bike (been 3 months now). A friend suggested I post my question on here.

I ride to and from work and, as of now, am just wearing compression shorts, sports bra, and a cotton or North Face moisture wick shirt. I'm a naturally sweaty person so even though it's just 6 miles, I'm pretty soaked by the time I arrive. I change and shower at the gym and then hang my clothes on a hanger under my desk to air out. I love commuting on my bike but the problem is that by the time the day ends and it's time to go home, my clothes STINK.

It's not that big of a deal but it is slightly uncomfortable (sometimes the clothes are still damp) and it particularly sucks if I have to make a stop b/w work and home (store, appointments, etc.) and I have to be that stinky person. Plus, on particularly bad days, the smell might waft up from under the desk and who knows who in my office thinks I'm gross!

Any suggestions on how to air out clothes? I'm thinking about investing in some bike shorts but not sure about shirts, bras, etc.

Thanks!
1) It's best to come down on the side of situationally appropriate attire. Add a pair of baggies or mtb shorts w/o a liner over top of the compression shorts. When one is on a training or club ride is the time for 'full-kit'. Not when one is commuting to work. Gym or no. And NO cotten. Polypro or light wool is much better as they wick. Cotton just gets wet and clings.

2) Shower/deo/shampoo before you leave. Really important. Use anti-bacterial spray or medicated talcum powder before you dress to leave as well. Remove your commuting clothes before they get wet from sweat. Keep a small collection of personal items...i.e. deo, soap, towel, toothbrush/paste, etc. Give yourself plenty of cooldown time. My daily commute is 33 miles, I'm the sweat king and the route in has been 93-105+ w/60% humidity all summer. Drenched, no matter what. I make sure I've got at least 20 miutes before the start of my workday to cool down. Also, drink plenty of water. I work 2nd shift, so the ride home is always a pleasure.

Hang your cycling clothes on standard hangers and place them somewhere they'll have alot of airflow. And turn them inside out. Most of the wetness collects on the inner part of the clothing, so will dry quicker than if turned the other way...use you judgement on the compression shorts.

You're doing everything possible in terms of 'not cummuting in your work clothes or working in your commutng clothes'. It's just the timimg of when you shower before your commute. That should be the last thing before heading out the door. You'll dry w/much less odor producing bacteria that way.

Btw, welcome and congrats on making the jump to cycle-commuting. We're a crazy lot, but love bikes and all things Fred.
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Old 08-02-12, 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
1) It's best to come down on the side of situationally appropriate attire. Add a pair of baggies or mtb shorts w/o a liner over top of the compression shorts. When one is on a training or club ride is the time for 'full-kit'. Not when one is commuting to work. Gym or no. And NO cotten. Polypro or light wool is much better as they wick. Cotton just gets wet and clings.
Agree with the avoid cotton part. The rest, well...

If you're working hard enough to generate a good sweat then activewear IS situationally appropriate. Whether that includes compression shorts or bike shorts is up to you. No need to add another layer if you don't want to. Kangchen: If you haven't figured it out, some people take issue with commuting in spandex. Others have no problem with it. Don't worry about it either way.

"Full Kit" probably needs some definition but I'm sure there's disagreement over that too.

To me "Full Kit" means a matching team jersey and shorts. Probably color coordinated shoes too and maybe even team socks.

Standard black cycling shorts definitely aren't part of "Full Kit", even combined with a team cycling jersey unless black shorts is what the team wears. Most team and even many club kits have patterned shorts.

There's some other etiquette that surrounds the idea of wearing "kit". Many who race feel it's wrong to wear the kit of team you don't belong to (haven't earned the right to represent). Many feel it's wrong to wear full team kit unless actually racing. The bike shop sponsored club I ride with on the other hand would probably be happy to have you wear their kit anywhere. They might draw the line at the opera, but then again, they might not.

Last edited by tjspiel; 08-02-12 at 07:03 AM.
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Old 08-02-12, 07:30 AM
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Thanks, all! Lots of great advice here. Been off the bike this week because of a back injury but next week I'm back on and can't wait to try all of these ideas out.The showering beforehand and wearing wool is mind-boggling but makes plenty of sense.

I haven't observed any kinds of criticism about wearing spandex before so this was my first experience of it. I hear you, tjspiel but I'm curious about nashcommguy's (and anybody else who agrees with him) view. What's so bad about it? I've worn spandex since high school when I was a rower so I'm pretty comfortable with it and know that I'm not killing anybody's eyes (otherwise I wouldn't be in it). Before I hit the showers at the gym I'll do some lifting so it feels situationally appropriate since I'm riding to the gym first.
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Old 08-02-12, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
Does your gym or office have one of these?


DRYING MY SHORTS by 1nterceptor, on Flickr
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Old 08-02-12, 07:58 AM
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I handle this by not riding hard in the morning when the temps are up. I save the hard rides for after work. Then I board the bike car of the commuter train, where the stink is masked by everyone else there.
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Old 08-02-12, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by kangchen View Post
Thanks, all! Lots of great advice here. Been off the bike this week because of a back injury but next week I'm back on and can't wait to try all of these ideas out.The showering beforehand and wearing wool is mind-boggling but makes plenty of sense.

I haven't observed any kinds of criticism about wearing spandex before so this was my first experience of it. I hear you, tjspiel but I'm curious about nashcommguy's (and anybody else who agrees with him) view. What's so bad about it? I've worn spandex since high school when I was a rower so I'm pretty comfortable with it and know that I'm not killing anybody's eyes (otherwise I wouldn't be in it). Before I hit the showers at the gym I'll do some lifting so it feels situationally appropriate since I'm riding to the gym first.
I don't share the view but I've seen it expressed enough that I think I can explain the reasoning in a fair manner.

The anti-spandex view falls into two basic camps (with some overlap).

The first is that wearing spandex to your work place doesn't show the proper degree of modesty. I believe women are given a more leeway when it comes to this than men are.

The second is that in the U.S. cycling as a sport has had a detrimental influence on cycling as transportation. Basically it would be better if people wore normal work clothes. If weather doesn't allow for that, then at least one should wear clothing they would wear while just out and about. That would make bicycle commuting seem more accessible to those who are turned off by the thought of wearing spandex.

Again, I don't share the viewpoint, but there it is.

This discussion comes up now and then in the commuting the forum. In the road forum the discussion is whether or not to shave your legs (for men). There's a group in that forum that believe that wearing cycling shorts with unshaven legs is just wrong. This is another group that believes that men shouldn't be shaving their legs period.

My take is that no matter what you wear or whether you shave or not, somebody will look down on you for it. So just do what works for you.

Last edited by tjspiel; 08-02-12 at 08:27 AM.
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