Anyone have advice for removing sweaty smell from gym shirts?

Hello all, I was wondering if anyone has any wisdom for getting the smell of sweat out of gym gear? It seems to be stuck in the seams of the arm pits, and after freshly washing the shirts there isn’t any apparent smell, but as soon I get warm at the gym (at which point I’m not sweaty for long enough for it to be unpleasant yet) it starts to smell bad - like stale sweat. I’ve invested in some white shirts for the gym now, so I can wash them at a higher temperature, but does anyone else have any advice?
Some of the shirts are ones that I’ve had to wear for the gym because my gym clothes were not clean/dry etc, and I would like to return them to ‘daily’ wearing but can’t because they smell after a couple hours.

Things I’ve tried;

  • washing separately, not over loading washer etc.
  • letting my antiperspirant fully dry before dressing.
  • adding white wine vinegar or cider vinegar to the wash.
  • pre soaking shirts with liquid dish detergent rubbed into arm pits.
  • pre soaking in vinegar and clothes detergent powder solution (reacts like baking soda, I thought the bubbles would help).

I would try a very mild bleach solution and let your gear soak for awhile. You do run the risk of bleaching out any colors, however, the chlorine should eliminate any chronic odors…

Would a soak in diluted bleach do it?

At some point it’s pretty much impossible to get the stank out of workout clothes; nothing works. Different materials take longer or shorter to reach that point, but once it happens they’re doomed.

Damn, I was beaten!

My other idea involves a container for your clothes, a stick, some rope, peanut butter and a skunk.

Fight bacteria with bacteria eating bacteria: “Sink the Stink” (developed for folks using neoprene), or any number of bacteria based cat urine removal products.

Soak the area with 5% hydrogen peroxide from pharmacy. Don’t dilute it. I was going to say that the sta-dry material used in many athletic shirts and shorts smells like that when damp. You said it was also in your normal shirts, so give the peroxide a try. You can get a quart for about $1.50 at Walmart.

Have you tried Borax/Borateem? It cuts through the oils which hold the smell to the fabric. Old school, for sure, but it worked for sweaty farmwives doing laundry with a washboard…

Look, I know this may not be practical… and it may just be money out the window. Still… just once & just for grins & giggles and since nobody else suggested it:

Dry Cleaning.

Not every time; just Once and just to see if it exorcises the exercise smells.
“…The Power of Tetrachloroethylene Compels You!!!”

Dry Cleaners by me charge about $2 a shirt on suit shirts & the chemical process has always removed smells that were there. Yes, yours is a different fabric than a dress shirt, yes it has been sweated on more & yes they hike the price on cleaning womens clothing (thats a 10 page thread right there).
But for $2… you might spend more than that on a bottle of something you’re not happy with at the market.

Look, I’ll state up front that this may be bad advice… so please consider the risk. If you want to give it a try, please only risk 1 shirt … and see how it goes.

If you have an ozone generator just lying around you can toss it in a small closet with the shirts for an hour. Works wonders.

No, the skunk was a bad idea. :slight_smile:

If the dry cleaning did work, then maybe doing it every 5 wearing or so would be doable?

Another possibility is to freeze the items for 24 or more hours. Assuming that the odors are due to bacteria, freezing may kill them off. I’ve not tried this myself but I’ve heard of this trick in regards to smelly motorcycle gloves.

Also NEVER wash technical fabrics in hot water. It seems to seal in the stank.

Try drying them in direct sunlight. The UV kills almost everything.

I notice that this happens with shirts sometimes that I bought at Target but not with my nicer running shirts. I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data, but there may be a difference in the quality of technical fabrics.

I know quite a few commercial fishermen that swear by Pine-Sol

And it still works for my SO’s incredibly stinky workout clothes.

It’s about the only thing I’ve found that can eliminate Teenaged Boy Funk, too!

Actually I think that it may be the drying that seals in the stank. I never put my technical fabrics in the dryer, and I don’t think that they retain a bad odor. Others close to me may disagree though.

Anything sweat-based I fight with ammonia. Soak the garment in a mixture of ammonia and water in the sink, then wash normally.

Ammonia just really works well with oily-type stains and smells.