Why Does Spandex Make Me Smell?

It's a common predicament that many individuals find themselves in after wearing spandex: an unpleasant odor that seems to cling to the fabric. But why does spandex make us smell? The answer lies in the interplay between bacteria, sweat, and body oils. When we engage in physical activities that promote perspiration, our bodies release sweat that contains various compounds. These compounds, along with the natural oils produced by our skin, can accumulate within the synthetic fibers of spandex. As sweat and body oils mix with bacteria naturally present on our skin, an environment conducive to bacterial growth is created. This symbiotic relationship between bacteria and our garments leads to the production of odorous substances, resulting in the literal stink that we experience. So, while spandex may offer flexibility and comfort, it’s important to acknowledge the potential for odor accumulation and take appropriate measures to keep it at bay.

Does Spandex Hold Odor?

Spandex is a popular synthetic fabric known for it’s stretchability and ability to retain it’s shape. However, one unfortunate downside of spandex is it’s tendency to hold on to odors. This intriguing fact may come as a surprise to many, but it’s indeed true. Even after being washed, spandex garments can retain unpleasant smells.

The answer lies in the structure and properties of spandex and it’s close cousin, Lycra. Both fabrics possess a unique composition that repels water, meaning the fibers don’t fully absorb the wash water during laundering. This incomplete penetration of water into the fabric fibers can prevent thorough removal of odor-causing particles.

Furthermore, the situation can worsen when spandex and Lycra fabrics accumulate residues from body oils, detergents, and fabric softeners over time. These substances can trap and lock in odors, making it even more challenging to eliminate unpleasant smells during the wash cycle.

The hydrophobic nature of spandex and Lycra, combined with the accumulation of residues from body oils and cleaning agents, contributes to this phenomenon.

How to Remove Odors From Spandex and Lycra Fabric: This Topic Could Explore Various Methods and Products That Can Effectively Remove Odors From Spandex and Lycra Garments, Such as Specialized Detergents or Home Remedies.

When it comes to removing odors from spandex and Lycra fabrics, there are a few methods you can try. Firstly, you can consider using specialized detergents that are designed to eliminate odors, specifically those made for performance fabrics. Another option is to create a simple homemade solution by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water, and then soak the garment in that mixture for about 30 minutes before washing it as usual. Remember to always check the care instructions for your specific garment before attempting any odor removal processes.

However, a new study conducted by the University of Alberta reveals that some fabrics, particularly polyester, may contribute to a lingering and unpleasant smell even after washing. The experiments conducted showed that odorants, compounds responsible for the characteristic smell of sweat, are more attracted to polyester compared to fabrics like cotton. This discovery suggests that the smell tends to adhere to polyester and isn’t completely eliminated during the laundering process.

Why Do Some Fabrics Make Sweat Smell Worse?

Polyester, a popular synthetic fabric, has long been associated with a lingering and unpleasant smell when it comes to sweat. A recent study conducted at the University of Alberta sheds light on why this is the case. The research indicates that odorants, the compounds responsible for unpleasant smells, are more likely to attach themselves to polyester rather than other fabrics such as cotton.

To understand the impact of different fabrics on sweat smell, the researchers conducted laundering experiments.

The study highlights the fact that laundering alone may not be sufficient to eliminate the odor associated with polyester clothing.

While polyester offers several advantages, including durability and affordability, it’s essential to recognize that it may not be the best choice for individuals prone to excessive sweating or for garments intended for intense physical activities.

The Science Behind Odorants and Why They Attach Themselves to Fabrics

Odorants are the molecules responsible for producing different scents or smells. These molecules can attach themselves to fabrics due to their volatile nature. Fabrics provide a suitable surface for odorant molecules to adhere to because of their texture and composition. The attachment of odorants to fabrics occurs through various physical and chemical interactions, such as diffusion and adsorption. These interactions allow the odorant molecules to permeate the fabric fibers, leading to the absorption and retention of the scent. The science behind odorant attachment to fabrics involves the understanding of molecular properties, fabric structure, and the mechanisms by which aromas interact with textile materials.

However, the bad news is that synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, can make body odour more noticeable due to their non-polar nature and the tendency to attract oil from our skin. While these fabrics may dry quickly, they can also become a breeding ground for bacteria that thrive in the presence of oil and sweat. As a result, we may find ourselves in a seemingly endless cycle of washing and deodorizing our clothes. But why exactly do synthetic fabrics make us smell, and is there any way to combat this issue?

Why Do Synthetic Fabrics Make Me Smell?

This is because synthetic fabrics don’t retain odours as well as natural fibres do. The structure of synthetic fibres is tightly woven, which allows for better airflow and thus helps to prevent bacteria from thriving. Bacteria is the culprit behind those lingering odours, as it feeds on the oils and sweat that we naturally produce. However, synthetic fabrics may still give off a strong smell if they aren’t properly cared for or if they come into contact with certain substances.

How to Properly Care for Synthetic Fabrics to Prevent Odors

Synthetic fabrics require specific care to prevent odors. Firstly, always check the care label for any specific instructions. Start by washing the garment inside out to ensure thorough cleaning. Use a gentle, low-temperature wash cycle with a mild detergent, as harsh chemicals can cause odors. Avoid using fabric softeners or dryer sheets, as they can leave residue that traps odors. Instead, opt for unscented detergents or add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to eliminate odors. After washing, air dry the garment in a well-ventilated area to prevent odor-causing bacteria from thriving. If the odor persists, repeat the washing process or try using specialized odor-eliminating products designed for synthetic fabrics.

They also allow your skin to breathe and prevent the buildup of bacteria that causes body odor. Additionally, natural fabrics have better moisture-wicking properties, keeping you dry and odor-free for longer periods of time. So, if you want to stay fresh and avoid unpleasant smells, it’s best to opt for fabrics like cotton, linen, and other natural fibers.

What Is the Best Fabric for Body Odor?

When it comes to body odor, choosing the right fabric can make a noticeable difference. Natural fibers like cotton and linen are the best options for combating unpleasant smells. These fabrics have a unique ability to absorb moisture from the body, preventing it from lingering on the skins surface. Unlike synthetic fabrics, which tend to trap moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria, natural fibers allow the skin to breathe and stay dry.

Benefits of Natural Fabrics for Body Odor Control

Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and wool have numerous benefits when it comes to controlling body odor. These fabrics have breathable properties, allowing air to circulate freely, which helps to reduce sweating and minimize the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Unlike synthetic fabrics, natural fabrics are less likely to trap moisture against the skin, creating a more comfortable and odor-free environment. Additionally, natural fabrics are more hypoallergenic, reducing the risk of skin irritation and further contributing to odor control. Overall, choosing natural fabrics for clothing can help keep unpleasant body odor at bay.

Source: Which fabric doesn’t smell after sweating?..


These substances thrive in the warm and moist environment created by wearing spandex, leading to the development of a literal stink. While the tightness and elasticity of this material may enhance performance and comfort, it’s important to be mindful of proper hygiene and maintenance to mitigate the odor issue. Regular washing, drying, and airing out of spandex garments can significantly reduce the build-up of these culprits and keep them smelling fresh for longer periods.