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Why does that running shirt smell

It’s really strange. Whenever I wear one of those special runner’s shirts (Under Armour, Dri Fit, etc.) I start to smell…bad! Now, I wash my clothes after every workout and I bathe two, sometimes 3 times a day. But there must be something in these wicking fiber fabrics that make them harder to clean or more prone to grow bacteria.

So, I did a little research and found a discussion on the Runner’s World forum. It turns out that I am not the only one with this problem. The problem is one of bacteria. Those special wicking fabrics provide great places for bacteria to live and hide. Your shirt might smell fine when it comes out of the washer and dryer but once you start to sweat, the microbes come out to feast. And it gets worse over time because the coating that the fabrics initially have washes off. Here’s a great article on the subject of smelly running shirts.

What do you do about it?

  1. Use a good detergent. Their expert says to use Tide Powder to wash your running shirts. He also says synthetic fabric specific products like sport wash by Atsko is good. I’ve never used them but I might try.
  2. Put them in the dryer. Some people think they shouldn’t but the experts say drying these shirts will help keep the odors down.
  3. Don’t use a fabric softener. Fabric softeners make a coating on the garment so they don’t work as well.

I like running in the synthetic fabrics much better than cotton, but the smell is unbearable. Hopefully, these washing tricks will keep the odor down. No one wants to be known as “the smelly joggler“.

This Post Has 9 Comments
  1. ha! So THAT is why Gus smells so bad. He wears the synthetic shirts too, and they reek up the entire house only after one time of him wearing it. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Seriously…Glad you brought this whole thing up, I was getting pretty tired of smelling that crap all over me. It’s pretty gross to think it’s bacteria ALL over you that is making you smell. Yikes.

  3. The Chicago marathon race kit had a sample of that sports wash stuff which is supposed to remove the odors. I don’t know how well it works, but you might want to try that.

  4. […] Thanks for the comment. I’ve not heard of this problem before. But you are probably using earbuds that have some kind of foam coating. If this is the case what happens is your sweat gets on the earphone and bacteria then grows on them. The bacteria creates the odor as a byproduct of its metabolism. This is the same kind of problem you might experience with your running t-shirts. […]

  5. So glad I found this website of the issue I am having too. I have tons of dri-fit for disc golf and another sport. Unfortunately, I get sweat easy and over time, shirt start to smell and refuse to go away. I washed 2-3 times on it and did so many method, dont ever think it will work but throw the shirt away. I am glad I found this because I started to think it was my body! Whew.. Anyone who sucess elimated the smell, please do share. 🙂 Thanks

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