Sometimes, clothes get sweaty. You spend a day out in the heat, you play a sport or you go to the gym, and then you come home covered in sweat. If you’re unlucky, the smell of your sweat gets trapped in your clothes.
If clothing sweat smells give you a bad experience, we’re here to help you get the sweat smell out of clothes. To help you out, this article offers the best tips for how to get sweaty, musty, and mildew smells out of clothes.
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Why Clothes Can Smell Musty
If you ever wondered why it is that your clothes can continue to smell sweaty even after you’ve washed them, it’s because of a little something called butyric acid. This is a natural chemical that your body excretes when it perspires. Butyric acid continuously produces odorous molecules, especially when a garment is warm.
When you sweat during exercise or during daily activities, but wash your clothes, iron and re-wear them, they can smell sweaty all over again when butyric acid is the culprit. If you’re not able to remove this compound completely when washing your clothes, the sweat smell will come back even after you do your laundry.
Additionally, your clothes can also get musty or sweaty-smelling if you leave damp laundry around too long in the laundry basket, washing machine, or gym bag.
How to Get Musty Smell Out of Clothes
It’s interesting and even important to understand how clothes can get sweaty and musty-smelling, but what should you do to get those smells out once they’ve been trapped in your garments? There are a few solutions that you can try out.
Vinegar may smell bad, but it can actually get sweat and must smells out of your clothes. All you have to do is soak your sweaty clothing in a container of vinegar before washing them. Make sure to completely submerge the clothing and allow it to soak for at least an hour (or ideally overnight) before washing it in the washing machine. When you take it out, both the vinegar and the musty smell should be gone.
Another option is to do the same thing but with a mixture of soda and water instead of vinegar. You can leave the clothing in the mixture for one hour up to overnight. You just have to be careful because soda can damage natural fabrics silk and wool and cause discoloration in colorful clothing.
If neither of these household tricks works, you can always purchase a detergent additive made for removing the sweat smell from clothing. It may cost you a bit more, but at least you know it will work.
How to Prevent Sweat Smells in Clothes: 11 Ways
Struggling to get the musty smell out of your clothing only goes to show how the best possible way to get the sweat out of your clothing is to do your best to prevent it from happening in the first place. There are several things you can do to prevent your clothes from having a stubborn sweat smell.
1. Keep Your Armpits Clean
If you have a tendency to sweat a lot, try to make it a habit to wash your armpits at least once or twice a day with antibacterial soap. This way, you’ll remove the bacteria that causes your sweat to smell bad, which will help you avoid getting your clothes stinky.
2. Use Deodorant
Another way to prevent body odor is to use deodorant, which uses ingredients like alcohol to kill the bacteria on your skin so that your sweat doesn’t become smelly.
3. Don’t Re-wear Clothing
If you’ve experienced musty clothing, something you can do to try to avoid it in the future is to not wear your clothing more than once a day. Every time you get undressed, go ahead and throw your clothing in the laundry hamper to remind yourself to wash it before you wear it again. That way, butyric acid won’t build up in the clothes.
4. Use Antiperspirant
Another very effective solution for preventing your clothes from getting sweat smells stuck inside of them is to use an antiperspirant. These contain the active ingredient aluminum, which can stop the activity of your sweat glands so that you perspire less and less butyric acid can get into your clothes.
5. Air Out Sweaty Clothes
If you can’t wash your sweaty clothing immediately after wearing it, you can still help the situation by turning your clothes inside out and hanging them up to air out until you have the opportunity to properly wash them.
6. Check Your Washing Machine
If all of the above steps don’t seem to be working to prevent stubborn sweat smells from getting stuck in your clothes, you might want to check to make sure that your washing machine is in proper working order. Washing machines tend to get pretty gross over time as residue, oil, and dirt from your dirty clothing accumulate, creating an environment conducive to mold growth. This is especially common in front-load washers.
7. Wash Your Clothes Inside Out
Since most of your sweat, oil, and dead skin cells get onto the inside of your clothing and not the outside, the most effective way to wash them is to turn them inside out when placing them in the washer, which exposes the dirtier side of the clothes directly to the laundry detergent. Best of all, it’s super convenient since you usually turn your clothes inside out in the process of taking them off, anyway.
8. Do Smaller Loads of Laundry
If you have a tendency to overstuff your washing machine with huge loads of laundry, it’s possible that your clothes aren’t getting washed as well as they need to be. So if you often deal with sweaty-smelling clothing, you might want to consider how large your loads of laundry are. If you usually do large loads of laundry at a time, try cutting the sizes of those loads in half. That way, there’s enough water to properly penetrate the fibers of your clothes.
9. Air-Dry Your Clothing
We can’t deny that using a clothes dryer is a major convenience, but air-drying them outside can actually help with sweat smell issues. UV rays can kill microbes and remove odors, and the outdoor breeze can help to air out your clothes with fresh air. Plus, it can also be much more environmentally friendly and reduce your electricity bill.
It’s also worth noting that putting your clothing in the dryer can actually lock in any smells inside of them, so if your clothes smell sweaty after a wash cycle, machine drying them can just make it worse. If you are going to use a dryer, make sure the sweat smell is completely gone first by rewashing them if you have to.
10. Skip the Fabric Softener
Did you know that fabric softeners can actually trap bacteria and odor into your clothes? They can also leave residue in your washing machine that can stain clothes, which you probably don’t want either. That’s why it’s best just to skip it entirely, or use baking soda and/or vinegar if you want a natural fabric softening agent.
11. Choose Your Clothes Wisely
Certain fabrics hold onto odors more than others, so it might be best to avoid them. For example, polyester (and synthetic moisture-wicking fabrics) are notorious for retaining bad smells, especially when compared to natural fibers like cotton, which are easy to air out.
How Social Citizen’s Sweat-Proof Clothing Can Help You
Want a clothing option that can reduce your sweat smell worries? Try out Social Citizen’s sweat-proof clothes. Each shirt comes with a hidden underarm pad made with naturally antimicrobial bamboo that fights odors while absorbing your sweat and preventing sweat stains.
There’s a Social Citizen shirt for everybody, with a variety of colors, styles, and figure-flattering cuts. You’ll never have to worry about getting too sweaty again, or the smells associated with it. Try out Social Citizen’s shirts today and see (or smell!) the difference for yourself.