If you’re an athlete or parent of an athlete, you know that smell. Some might call it a sign of a good workout. The rest of us just want it gone. We’re here to tell you what causes that smell — the “stinky athlete smell” (SAS) — and how you get rid of it.
Athletes and athletic gear smell due to something known as BO. Think you know what BO is? We’re not talking about “body odor,” but rather a bodily byproduct called bromidrosis. Bromidrosis, or BO, is produced by your body’s natural bacteria when they feed on old sweat and bodily secretions (should’ve warned you not to eat lunch while reading this).
The Science Behind the Smell
Sweat is made up of 99% water, but it also produces a small amount of inorganic and organic compounds that include salts, ammonia, and urea. Bacteria that live on the skin, such as Staphylococcus eupdermis and Propionibacteria acnes, feed on these organic and inorganic compounds, breaking them down into even smaller compounds. The byproduct produced from this process — BO — is what produces the smell of sweat. Sweat that’s left on athletic gear, when it’s not properly cleaned and disinfected, continues to produce the BO byproduct, and therefore continues to smell.
Other Problems Caused by Smelly Gear
The problem with sweaty, BO-filled athletic gear and equipment is more than just smell. The sweat-filled pads, gloves, shoes, jerseys, and other equipment are a breeding ground for infectious bacteria, that’s easily transferred from person to person, as well as molds and fungus. Diseases like staph, MRSA, impetigo, the flu, and herpes all can be spread from untreated sports gear.
One of the biggest culprits — but often overlooked — is the gym bag. Once sweaty equipment or clothes get placed in the bag, bacteria and compounds that have been absorbed by the equipment and fabrics are transferred to the insides of the bags. Leaving wet, bacteria filled items in a closed bag creates a warm, moist environment that allows bacteria to thrive and continue to create BO byproduct.
How to Prevent Sports Equipment from Smelling
Taking proper care of and disinfecting your sports equipment makes all the difference in extending the life of your gear, preventing smells, and reducing your risk of contracting infectious diseases. Performing a cleaning routine after every practice, game, and workout is critical to stay safe from infection and odor free. Here’s what you need to do to get rid of that smell from sports and exercise:
Remove all gear and shake or brush off any loose debris or dirt that may be present, depending on the sport.
Spray all gear (even your gym bag!) thoroughly with a sports disinfectant and deodorizing spray, like Clear Gear Spray, inside and out.
Allow your gear to hang dry completely in an open, well ventilated area.
If you have gear and equipment that has never been disinfected or deodorized and is very smelly, it may need several treatments to reduce odors. Use a disinfectant and deodorizer sports spray, like Clear Gear Spray, from the start with new gear and equipment to prevent bacteria and odors throughout.
With these steps, you’ll finally be able to fight back against that smell brought home by you or your kids.