How To Get That Stubborn Sweat Smell Out Of Clothes

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how to get sweat smell out of clothes
Self

I love working out! Even when I hate it, I love. I might grumble all the way to the gym, but once my heart rate gets going and that yummy sweat starts beading up and trickling down, I'm in my happy place.

Usually, when I leave the gym I'm riding such a high that I don't even notice if I stink to high heaven. But usually the next day or so when I am reminded to tend to those stinky gym clothes, I am presented with a cruel reminder of just how badly sweat can stink up your clothes. It often makes me wonder how to get sweat smell out of clothes, especially when detergent doesn't always do the trick.


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There is absolutely nothing wrong with sweating up a storm. Sweat is your body's way of naturally cooling you off; in fact, sweat itself is actually quite clean and has almost no aroma to speak of. It's when it passes through our pores that it collects the debris and bacteria that create the pungent tang we're all in such a hurry to make sure we get rid of as soon as possible.

But getting rid of the smell of stinky sweat is no small feat. Luckily, I'm here to help! Here's how to get sweat smell out of clothes with nine helpful tips.

1. Don't use as much detergent.

It might sound bananas, but using too much detergent in your workout clothes load is only going to create soap build-up on your clothes, which can actually make you already rank clothes smell even worse. If you want to get rid of sweat smells, try cutting back to half the amount of detergent you usually use. 

2. Wash your clothes right away.

It's not always convenient to get your workout clothes into a washing machine, but at the very least, hang them up to dry before they go in your hamper.  Best case scenario, you're washing them right away. That's because the stink we associate with sweat is actually caused by bacteria, and what do bacteria love to feast upon? Moisture. So pick up that pile, stat! 

3. Don't use fabric softener.

Sure, the stuff itself smells good, but it will do nothing to workout clothes besides actually lock in the smell of your stinky sweat. You don't need that in your life!

Also, as nice as the stuff might smell, it's rough on stretchy materials like the ones workout clothes are made-off. So not only are you not handling sweat smells by using it, you're also shortening the lifespan of your favorite Lycra ensemble. 

4. Freeze them.

This is a trick I have been using for way, way, way, too long. If you need to quickly get rid of the stink in a shirt before you hit the town and you don't have time to do laundry, try putting them in the freezer.

You heard me right. The freezing cold will temporarily knock out the bacteria causing the wretched stank. But be warned: this is a quick fix and will not give you the lasting results that you crave. 


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5. Hang dry them.

Sometimes sunlight really is the only cure — ask a depressed person, why don't you? Letting your clothing dry on the line in the sun instead of in the dryer can "sun bleach" the bad smells right out of your clothes.

6. Add a lemon to your wash.

Lemons: they aren't just for lemonade anymore! If you are having trouble getting rid of really bad sweat smells, add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon into your washing before you hit start. The citric acid inside of the juice will help kill the bad-smelling bacteria. 

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7. Use vinegar.

This stuff is great at getting out bad smells. Just pre-soak your laundry for no more than 30 minutes in equal parts white vinegar and cold water, then wash as usual. If your washing machine itself stinks, don't be afraid to toss some vinegar in there too and run it on delicate to clean out the whole machine. 

8. Try baking soda.

Baking soda is almost as good as vinegar when it comes to banishing bad smells. Measure about a cup of the powder into your laundry and marvel as the fresh-i-ocity overtakes you.

9. Trim your armpit hair.

If you don't shave your armpits, try keeping the hair relatively short. Bacteria adhere to your pit hair the same way it adheres to your clothing. Having shorter hair and paying attention to your personal hygiene can make a big difference. 


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Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. Her work focuses on relationships, pop culture and news. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.