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Post-Adventure Laundry, or De-Stinking Your Clothes

Patagonia  /  2 Min Read  /  Worn Wear

Letone“The scent of these armpits is aroma finer than prayer.” – Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Stink. Funk. Putrescence. Miasmal malodorous mank. Each of us has our own finely tuned threshold for bad smells. But it’s safe to say this universal holds true: there comes a time when our clothes become smelly enough that we wish to disown them; or at least deny our culpability in making them reach such olfactorily offensive heights.

Me, I stink extra bad. I’ve been accused of smuggling onion sandwiches around under my arms, or–to quote one friend–smelling “like a sweaty horse washed with garlic soap.” It may go without saying that I was pretty psyched when we finally launched our wool line, which you can check out here. But buying new clothes isn’t the answer to dealing with the fetid funk of your existing garments. For some tips on how to keep the stench of your current wardrobe at bay, read on:

[Photo courtesy of Andrew McGarry]

–    CLOTHING SMELL IS CAUSED BY BACTERIA. Body oils accumulate onsynthetics more easily than on natural fibers. These body oils providea welcome home to bacteria. These bacteria are what cause your clothesto smell.
–    POLYESTER LOVES OIL, DIRT, AND DYESTUFFS. Regular light cleaningis the best way to avoid the build-up that plays host to odor-causingbacteria.
–    WASH WITH DETERGENT, NOT SOAP. Detergent has been shown to rinseout more thoroughly than liquid soaps. Soap residue picks up dirt(causing an item with soap residue to become dirty more quickly).Soap+dirt creates a “Petri dish” of sorts for bacteria to find a homeon clothing.
–    DON’T USE FABRIC SOFTNER! Fabric softner adds additional bacteria-friendly residues to clothing, making them stink faster.
–    DON’T THROW YOUR CLOTHES IN THE DRIER.  The odor-producingbacteria that live on synthetic fabrics are invigorated by heat.Machine drying adds extra heat, which helps re-activate those stinkylittle biota.  Air-drying will help ensure that your clean clothes stayodor-free longer.
–    WASH WITH A LITTLE WHITE VINEGAR. A small amt. (approx. 1/3 cup)of white vinegar added occasionally to the wash will help neutralizebuilt-up bacteria. Use this treatment sparingly, as regular use couldcause clothing to take on a bit of vinegary smell.

For more fabric care tips, check out our online Product Care tips.

As a final note, we should point out that anti-stink technology is not very eco-friendly. We’re often asked whyCapilene in particular gets stinky moreso than some of our competitors. The shortanswer is that we refuse to use environmentally costly anti-stinktreatments such as silver (a common anti-stink treatment). We believeour new Gladiodor treatment is a step in the right direction. It’s ananti-stink treatment that comes from crab shells that would beotherwise-destined for the landfill.

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