Question: Over time, the synthetic materials used for cycling jerseys and base layers seem to retain a sweaty smell. In my case, at least, it can be pretty potent. It has only one advantage — no one will draft on me! How can I get my clothes to smell fresh again? — Steve H.
RBR Replies: Synthetic fibers are a great advance in cycling clothing. Depending on the type and application, they can absorb moisture, dry quickly or keep you relatively warm when they’re wet. Plus, it’s easy to print words on them so you can ride around looking like a billboard.
But nearly all synthetics have one drawback, and you nailed it: They retain odor. It seems that once a jersey or base layer is worn, no amount of washing can truly remove the stench. It’ll smell okay when you put it on, fresh from the drying rack, but five minutes of sweating brings back the evil aroma.
Generally, the higher-quality the garment, the better washing will eliminate the smell. This is mainly because you can safely wash these materials in hotter water.
Some folks pour a little vinegar into the machine when washing workout clothes; it seems to work pretty well. There are also specific laundry detergents that claim to beat the stink, and we’ve covered all our different reader laundry detergent tips here.
You could also switch to wool undergarments. Wool can be worn many times even without washing before it begins to smell. Modern wool garments are lightweight, non-itchy and won’t shrink when washed. They absorb sweat well and might limit how much gets into your jersey’s synthetic fabric.