General Question

perg's avatar

How do you get the funk out of polypro or other synthetic sports fabrics?

Asked by perg (2619 points ) October 25th, 2010

(And do not tell me to play classical music for them.)

The wicking, breathable fabrics used in a lot of sports/hiking gear are great, but if you own any of these clothes, you know that after a while they develop a funky odor. Do you have a laundry trick that helps cut down on or get rid of the smell? I was thinking about soaking in baking soda or adding it to the wash. I can’t use perfumey laundry soaps (and wouldn’t want to go hiking smelling like fake flowers anyway).

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15 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. Throw them out and buy marino wool base layers like Icebreaker. You can wear the same top for days and it won’t smell and, unlie synthetics, will keep you worm even when wet.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Try extra detergent and use the hottest water you can. A pre-soak with enzyme based laundry will get it all started. Remember you are cleaning plastic ( polypro ). Grease and sweat may stick to the plastic.

cazzie's avatar

Use an oxygenated washing powder.. something that has sodium percarbonate (Na2CO3•H2O2), an adduct of sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Oxyclean has it in it. Use it with a hot wash. Soak it if you can.

If you need warmth, do use wool. You can soak wool in hot water. It’s the agitation that felts it and shrinks it.

MissPoovey's avatar

I suggest a cheep bottle of vinegar added to the wash.
Ofcourse vinegar stinks too, lol

Joybird's avatar

I’m with @Lightlyseared on this….throw them away and use natural fabrics. Synthetics of all kinds that develop smells (usually due to BO) won’t come totally spring fresh again…no matter what you use. I’ve used Oxyclean on them. It doesn’t work. Sure these clothes are light weight and wick away sweat but the down side is that eventually they reek and you need to replace them.

phillygirl's avatar

I may have throw mine out then.

For me, the benefit of polywhatever exercise clothes is not that they keep me warm, but that they keep me cool. Will the wool substitutes do that?

cazzie's avatar

100% cotton then. Or try Bamboo / cotton blends. Bamboo has a natural anti-stink quality, so they say, but I do know it’s really soft mmmm…..

Lightlyseared's avatar

@philygirl yes Marino wool is fantastically versatile. You can get thin tshirts that are perfect for running n

perg's avatar

Merino is indeed nice, but I’m not made of money and would rather not throw away clothes that work very well for me apart from this occasional odor issue. I also have sensitive skin that’s irritated by wool.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@perg then you are in luck. One of the many interesting features of merino wool is it does not iritate the skin like other wools. It is often used as bedding for babies with exzema, allergies or sensetive skin.

perg's avatar

@Lightlyseared Thanks, I have tried it.
ETA: It also doesn’t address the question I asked.

Lightlyseared's avatar

OK so the answer to the question you asked is this. One of the most common materials for making this sort of garment is polypropelene. If your clothes are made of this or contain it then you can’t get the smell out out. Once it’s there it’s there. You can mask it with something else if you want, you can soak your stuff in all sorts of potions for as long as you but the smell won’t go. Sorry.

Smashley's avatar

I’m with the “chuck-em-and-buy-yourself-some-wool-already” gang.

@perg – Icebreaker is indeed expensive, but it isn’t your only option for merino. Shop around and you’ll find some great products for a lot less. Icebreaker holds up really well, so second-hand on eBay is also a great way to go.

@cazzie – cotton is nice for day to day wear, but isn’t a “performance” material, and is totally unsuitable for hiking. In the bush, cotton kills.

@phillygirl – There are extremely light wool clothings that are perfect for keeping you cool, that will offer comfort, moisture wicking, and best of all, barely smell. I wear merino-wool underwear when I go to work and I’ve never been happier/dryer (and sometimes I get up to a week on a single washing!)

cazzie's avatar

@Smashley I’m in the wool-camp as well, if you read my second post here, but does the asker say what kind of environment she’s using the clothing?

I’m from Norway. I know my wool wear and have plenty of it, you can bet on it. I want to import products made of merino and possum fur from New Zealand. I have a hat, scarf and gloves and they are soooo soft and so warm. I think my dream wool now would be alpaca with possum fur woven in. And before everyone goes.. awwww… poor possums, they’re a pest and destroying the forests. They were introduced into NZ by fur farmers and when the market dropped, the farmers released the little beasts and they have been killing and destroying ever since. No natural preditors and plenty of green to eat, and they especially like the slowest growing and rarest trees, the little b****rds. So, save a tree and wear possum fur. (herein ends my rant for the day)

barb195's avatar

merino comes in varying grades.. chinese merino is not the same quality as australian or new zealand. icebreaker clothes are of good quality and altho expensive if taken care of will last for years. there are some sites you can buy last seasons colors for good prices… bivouac is one, sometimes sierra trading has it on sale too. if you dont wash it all the time it will last even longer.. trampers often wear it all week without washing and it doesnt get smelly.
merino will be suitable for hot or cold weather.. the wool wicks the sweat on hot days which keeps the body dry especially good when sweating in draughty places.
cotton is not a performance material as stated by smashley.
bamboo is better than cotton, but doesnt wick as well as wool and takes longer to dry when going thru rivers etc on tramps. merino dries real quick.
another product available in new zealand is silkspun available on line from silkbody.co.nz..and nz nature.co.nz it has similar qualities to wool and is super nice to wear… esp if you think you may be itchy with wool… doesnt get smelly either…

most people who have worn merino or silkspun for sports wear and smelly missions could not even get there heads around you wanting to cling to polyprop… esp if your skin is sensitive.
if you must cling to it i am with the other reader.. white vinegar.. but it pongs too

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