If you’re like me and you’ve been active in sports long enough, I’m sure you’ve become acquainted with the word permastink. Anytime you’re involved in a sport or activity there is going to be some sweating and smell associated with it. The difference however is normal smelliness and I think I’m going to pass out, someone’s smuggling a skunk kind of smell.
Without getting too technical, the general consensus is synthetics have a tighter weave and trap your sweat molecules which is great for wicking away moisture during an activity, but bad for the washing machine when it’s time to get rid of the bacteria that’s causing the smell. If there are any doubts in your mind about what I’m talking about please read these articles by two cyclists. http://www.fatcyclist.com/2010/03/05/cycling-stinks/ and the story of Ralph http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/you-smell
There are two solutions. One is to wash the clothes right away and use a better detergent specifically formulated for synthetics such as Win Detergent. The second option is to look at a natural fiber such as merino wool. I just read an amazing test that Outside magazine did where they tested the claims by the New Zealand outdoor clothing manufacturer Icebreaker. The claim by the company is that you can wear their natural merino wool products for a couple of days in a row with no major smell problems which would be an obvious plus, especially if you’re a traveler and don’t have access to a wash facility every day. Well, Outside magazine editors decided to up the ante, and instead of a couple of days they had a writer test a shirt by wearing it for two weeks with no washes and log the results day by day. Here’s the link to that article if you’re interested Outside 2 week shirt test. Spoiler alert…. the shirt lived up to the claims. There have even been stories of people wearing socks for 30 days straight with no washes and not dying from the smell. Merino 30 day socks challenge. Seems Mother Nature probably won this round.