Why Do My Blended Shirts Stink?

Synthetic Clothes Smell

There’s a lot of things to consider when ordering apparel or uniforms for your organization. Color, style, and fit are just a few, but have you ever considered how your apparel smells??

While we can’t order custom smells for our apparel (yet), several studies have proven what many of us already know… synthetic apparel smells worse than natural fiber apparel. There are several studies that have been done to figure out why. These studies typically involve volunteers who wear different fabrics during a high intensity workout, then giving the apparel a “sniff test” sometime after.

In a nutshell, sweat itself doesn’t contain bacteria, but bacteria lives naturally on our skin, and in the environment around us.

These bacteria prefer certain environments, usually warm and moist, which is why most peoples armpits smell. This bacteria thrives when their environment becomes warmer and wetter, causing these smells to become stronger. Studies have found a particular bacteria called micrococcus is what causes the overwhelming stench that comes from synthetic workout apparel.

Micrococcus doesn’t usually live on the skin, and doesn’t like cotton, which is why we don’t smell it when wearing other forms of clothing. It naturally lives in the dirt, and in water, and is picked up during a workout session. The same traits that make synthetic materials great for workout apparel, also makes a perfect petri dish for growing this bacteria. The bacteria rapidly grows on the material, then comes the stench.

In an effort to combat this stench, some manufacturers have introduced microbials during production. Not only does this introduce another step in the manufacturing process (increasing overall price), but there is some dispute over how good this really is since microbials kill ALL bacteria, including beneficial ones that help to keep our skin healthy.

Laundering doesn’t always remove the smell.

Many users complain that even after laundering, their apparel retains an offensive smell. A search for how to clean synthetic workout apparel yields a long list of products, and methods for washing, but none are absolutely fool proof. What works for one particular blend, or type may not have the same results on others.

Workout Clothes Stink

While this may seem like an anti-synthetic article, we are not advocating for or against any particular type of apparel. We simply believe you need to be informed so you can make the best decision for the members of your organization. Synthetics have many things going for them that make them very desirable under certain circumstances, but as with most things, there are negatives that should be considered when making your decision.

1. Will the people who will be wearing these items be sweating excessively? If so, synthetics may not be the best option. Even during testing, the wearers only wore the clothes for the duration of a workout. If the members of your organization will be wearing these garments all day, the stench may become that much worse.

2. Will the people who will be wearing these items be in frequent contact with customers, or other people who are important to your organization? Good hygiene is an important impression. Even if the wearer looks perfect, no one will want to be close to someone who smells offensive.

3. Will the people who will be wearing these items go through extra steps to properly launder their items, especially if they must be treated differently from their regular clothing? Purchasing special soaps, or laundering separately puts a financial burden on the wearer and might be something that the wearer simply can’t afford or doesn’t want to do.

Are you willing to put the members of your organization in a piece of apparel that has been treated with extra chemicals or contain compounds that may have undesirable effects? More and more people are trying to live a “green” life.

Nanosilver is a popular treatment for its ability to kill bacteria, but it kills good bacteria also, and there’s no definitive studies that show whether its overuse is having a bad effect on our overall health or not.

If you need printed shirts or apparel for your organization, let us help you find the perfect garment to suit your needs.

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