Remove the smell of sweat from clothes: tips for laundry that always smells

The heat of certain seasons, the busy days, the moments when we leave the gym: there are many reasons why our clothes can become dirty with sweat every day and therefore stink until they are washed properly. Sometimes improper washing fails to remove the unpleasant smell of sweat from fabrics and you end up with clothes that come out of the washing machine but are not really wearable. Generally, this frustrating outcome is the result of an oversight or unconscious mistake: it only takes a few things to avoid washing sweat-soaked clothes “dry.”

Smell of sweat: Why does sweat smell bad?
The sweat secreted by our glands has no smell in itself, but this smell that we all know is the result of the action of bacteria that come into contact with the sweat. When bacteria absorb our sweat, they secrete organosulfur compounds called thiols, whose smell is reminiscent of sulfur, onions or meat.

Sweat is essentially water and some salt. Urea, amino acids, lactic acid, fats and sugar are only present in small amounts. When we wash, we not only remove sweat, but also microorganisms (and what they secrete) from our skin and regain our smell.

On clothing, on the other hand, the smell lingers longer, especially if we didn’t act quickly and wash the fabric soaked in sweat (and bacteria). Since these microorganisms survive easily at temperatures of 30-40°C and many materials cannot be washed at higher temperatures, it is necessary to use various methods to make them disappear by appropriately pre-treating the clothing.


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How do I get the smell of sweat out of my laundry?
The first thing you should do is spray vinegar, diluted in equal parts with water, on clothes as soon as you take them off and before you put them in the laundry basket. Vinegar has a pungent smell that then goes away, but it also has antibacterial properties that actually eliminate bad smells. However, only use this remedy on dark clothing and not on delicate fabrics or certain types of synthetic fabrics. It’s always best to test a hidden corner of the garment to see if the vinegar changes the look. We always recommend white alcohol or wine vinegar as these do not leave marks on clothing.

Otherwise, vinegar (always for fabrics that will not be damaged on contact) can be used to pre-treat clothes immediately before washing: fill a bowl with lukewarm water, pour in a glass of white wine and let it soak for an hour. or at least 30 minutes before rinsing, wringing and continuing with regular washing.

Citric acid is an excellent alternative, useful for light-colored clothing (although dark clothing may cause discoloration, so always test first). You need about 4 tablespoons of citric acid per liter of hot water. Fill a basin appropriately and soak your clothes in it for an hour before continuing with normal washing.

Finally, baking soda: First prepare a bowl with five liters of water in which you dissolve two tablespoons of baking soda. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then soak your clothes overnight or for several hours. Then continue washing as usual.