Sweat smell (aka Body odour or BO) is not a problem for everyone on this earth. But for those with this problem – it is the greatest one. I belong to the second section. Having tried almost everything ( other than giving up on non veg and spices, which is impossible for me ) I have now resolved to clean the horrible sweat smell out of my clothes – properly; and get a good antiperspirant deodorant
I have learned that there are two glands in our body ( eccrine glands and apocrine glands – they are almost all over our body) which causes all the sweat ;Sweat is supposed to be good for you ( It cools the body when it gets heated up) , so I will never blame sweat for the resultant body odour.
Body odour is the result of sweat mixed with bacteria present in your body. This together with the deodorant you must be using will create a killer odour which makes a stain on your fabric and causes all to run away from you as well. So removing every trace of the bad odour which is left lingering on clothes after you take it off is not an option – but a necessity.
Tips to remove sweat smell from clothes
- The first and foremost thing you can do is to wash sweaty clothes as soon as it is taken off the body. Always wash sweaty clothes without keeping them too much in the laundry bin. The odour will set and it will be hard to remove.The faster you can wash them the better it will be washed out.
- Using warm water to wash clothes can help. You should check the label of the garment and use the highest possible temperature you could use on the type of fabric. For eg. Polyester doesn’t tolerate hot water. Wool shrinks in hot water. So be cautious and err on the side of caution. But warm water helps.
- Soak the garment for 10 minutes in a strong detergent. If the sweat smell is intense soak for 30 -45 minutes.You can soak in the washing machine itself. What I do is, work the machine, then when the cloth is immersed in water after one tumble, off the machine for 30 minutes ( My machine has only 10 minutes soak option ) then power on the machine again
- Alternatively you can soak the sweaty clothes in a bucket with water mixed with two -three teaspoons of white vinegar. Soak for half an hour. Wring it out and put the clothes to the wash.
- Ensure that the washing machine is not overloaded. If the clothes donot have space in the machine to be tumbled properly and washed, the odour and sweat would not go. Also for really sweaty clothes add one more rinse cycle if your machine allows that.
- The fabric conditioners available in the markets have such lovely smell. You can put a capful in the final rinse for a lingering smell. But I am a little concerned about using them daily in the wash especially because everyone in our house are allergic. You can add a teaspoon of vinegar in the final rinse water for a more natural remedy. The foul odour of vinegar will fade when the cloth dries.
- Take out from the machine as soon as the wash is complete to be hanged.
- Hang the washed clothes out in the sunshine and clean air to dry.It is better to skip the spin dryer
- For stubborn sweat smells which donot go away with washing – Some people have had success with Baking soda – that magical all purpose cure for all problems – it is even supposed to cure cancer. Just make a thick paste of baking soda with water and spread it on the sweaty places. Wait for 10-15 minutes before putting the clothes to wash.
- Another remedy I have read about is to use crushed aspirin tablets and spreading it just like baking soda on the sweaty area. All these are harmless chemicals which would not harm your body in any way. Checkout this post for more ideas like this.
- Use Borax powder to remove sweat smell – Just mix Borax powder with some water and a drop of lemongrass essential oil. Keep in a spray bottle. Spritz on the sweat areas before wash.
- For white clothes with sweaty smell , a good oxygen bleach diluted and soaked will work to destroy the bacteria and render the clothes white again ( the yellow sweat stain will vanish with the bleach). If you are averse to use of such chemicals, you can try lemon juice.It is supposed to be bleaching and the lemon smell will take away the sweat smell.
- Washing soda has been used for a long time for stubborn smells. Just add some teaspoons in the wash.
- If sweat smell is still there, use the fabric brush on the area. But you have to realize that hard scrubbing brushes may destroy the texture of the fabric surface
- Another extreme step is to boil the cloth – if the smell is awful and everything you have done dosenot seem to work – keep the cloth ( if it is cotton or a fabric that is ok with heat) on a stainless steel pot with boiling water for 10 minutes. This is ideal for smelly kitchen towels and white shirts with odour; removes the colour and removes odour . You may have to use fabric conditioner afterwards.