Asking for a friend…

Have you ever been interrupted by a sudden whiff of stinky body odor while you’re rushing to work, a date, or the yoga studio?

But – it can’t be you – you just took a shower. You’re wearing a clean shirt.  Aren’t you? If your clothing is made of polyester fabric – or another synthetic fiber like acrylic or nylon – it may not be as clean as you would hope.

First, some good news. Your sweat doesn’t smell! Sweat has no odor. How is this possible? We produce long-chain fatty acids in our sweat secretions. Long-chain fatty acids cannot produce odor because they are too big to be volatile. To be volatile means that the substance can become vaporous, or evaporate. In other words, get into the air and reach your nose.

Unfortunately, the bacteria present in our clothes and skin can break these long-chain fatty acids down into smaller, volatile molecules that can reek. The most common bacterial culprit in clothing is micrococci and micrococci love polyester.

Polyester fabric is a much more ideal habitat for bacteria than natural fibers such as cotton, silk, linen, or hemp. In a study testing gym goers shirts after just 1 hour of working out and 28 hours of incubation, a panel found 100% cotton t-shirts were significantly better smelling. Further testing confirmed bacterial growth in synthetic fabric t-shirts was significantly higher than the 100% cotton t-shirts. For the full study check out: http://aem.asm.org/content/80/21/6611.full

This bacteria can stay in synthetic clothing even after thorough washing. You might now be wondering about what polyester might do in your nether region. If you weren’t, now you are. Wonder no more, we’ve got you covered.

So next time I head to the yoga studio, it will be in full cotton, or maybe I’ll try a naturally antibacterial semi-synthetic fabric like lyocell. Namaste smellin’ like a rose.

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