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Christine Luff

How to NOT Smell Like a Runner

By June 10, 2009

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Running in the heat will not only make you sweaty, it can also leave you pretty, well, stinky. One of the problems is that technical fabrics -- which are great for running because they wick away your sweat -- trap bacteria (which causes the smell). I know runners who will complain that their technical running clothes still smell even AFTER they wash them. Here are a couple of tricks that can remove even the most stubborn odors from your running clothes:
  • Using baking soda helps. Pre-soak your clothes in a solution of water and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (or just use water and a cup of baking soda). You can use the pre-soak setting on the washing machine or do it in a separate container. Then wash and use Arm and Hammer laundry detergent.
  • Try using a special detergent formulated for technical wear, such as WIN sports detergent.

In addition, there are lots of new odor-fighting running clothes on the market. Although they may sound too good to be true, these running clothes do actually help keep you dry and odor-free. Although some of them are a bit pricier than your average running shirts, it's worth the investment because they'll last longer and keep you smelling fresh!


June 12, 2009 at 7:46 am
(1) Brian says:

I bought a commercial product that does the same thing and I believe it contains hydrogen peroxide. Since this stuff is known to kill germs, I think it makes sense that they would use it.

Aside from the risk of bleaching, it makes sense to try using Hydrogen Peroxide in the wash, but I would suggest doing a test load first, or be extra careful with colours!

June 12, 2009 at 10:28 am
(2) John says:

I have found that baking soda works. It is easy and inexpensive. I am glad you covered this issue because it is one of the things I don’t like about technical fabrics.

June 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm
(3) Megan says:

I LOVE Win!! It works wonders on my sweaty work out clothes. I use nothing else on my workout gear.

June 14, 2009 at 10:42 pm
(4) Roni says:

As the wife/mother of five athletes living in the tropics I found that a few drops of eucalyptus oil in the wash with your ordinary detergent works wonders … no more smell!

June 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm
(5) Kallelilly says:

The best solution I have found for getting rid of gnarly sweat smell…

Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the wash (with your detergent of choice).

If you do that…. no more nasty smell.

June 25, 2009 at 8:19 pm
(6) Audra says:

Try using an anti-bacterial baby wash product similar to what is used for cloth diapers – they are usually very gentle on fabrics but clean and sanitize very well.

July 15, 2010 at 11:57 am
(7) marianne says:

I use oxyclean (or an off brand of it) with all my running clothes, towels, sox, etc. This will even fight animal odors. It’s amazing!!!

July 15, 2010 at 12:21 pm
(8) Chris says:

I soak my items in a gallon bucket with a cup of white vinegar for about a half an hour. Pour the contents of the bucket into the washer when filling. I have many allergies so I have little choice of detergents and fabric softeners except Seventhth Generation Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender (which is amazing!) or free and clear. Soaking my running clothes in that solution does a better job than just using baking soda. Please don’t worry…the strong smell of vinegar dissapears in the wash.

July 19, 2010 at 1:40 am
(9) Pete says:

Prevention is better than the cure: I normally shower straight after a run and I put my running gear on the shower floor. As you shower, the shower gel & shampoo and a load of water run through the gear, washing out the sweat. I then hang them up to dry out. Once dry, I just put them in the laundry pile.

This way it’s OK if it’s a few days before I next run the washing machine since my gear isn’t stewing in sweat!

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