How to Keep Clothes Smelling Fresh – Clothing Odor Control

Keeping your clothes feeling and smelling fresh can be a struggle. As well as natural body odors, you have to compete with environmental odors, like smoke and cooking smells, and musty, damp odors from poor storage or a lack of drying. However, beneath all these challenges lurks the ultimate odor-causing menace - bacteria.

clothes smelling fresh

This article examines what causes bad smells in clothing, why bacteria are responsible for many of your woes, and how best to keep your apparel smelling its best when storing or wearing it. At the same time, we will provide a host of top tips and explain the science behind some of the most innovative odor-beating solutions out there.

What makes clothing smell bad?

Bacteria play a significant role in causing unpleasant odors in clothes. When we sweat, the bacteria present on our skin break down the sweat molecules, producing by-products that emit a foul odor. These bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments, such as the armpits and necklines of clothing. If not properly dealt with, these bacteria can multiply and linger on the fabric, leading to persistent odors. 

Various factors contribute to the spread of bacteria and unpleasant odors. Understanding these factors can help you tackle the problem and keep your garments fresh and clean.

Sweat and body odor

Perspiration is one of the primary culprits behind smelly clothes. When we perspire, bacteria on our skin break down the sweat, resulting in body odor. This odor can transfer onto clothes, especially in areas close to the skin and prone to heavy sweating, such as the armpits and collars.

Improper washing

Not washing your clothes enough can lead to the build-up of dirt, oils, and bacteria. This accumulation can cause clothes to develop a musty or stale smell. However, you can tackle these odors while still reducing the amount of laundry you do by using Polygiene StayFresh™ or Polygiene OdorCrunch™ solutions.

Dampness and mold

If you store clothes in damp environments or leave them wet for prolonged periods, they will develop a moldy odor. Mold thrives in damp conditions and can grow on fabrics, resulting in a nasty smell.

Tobacco, smoke, and cooking odors

Clothes absorb plenty of environmental odors. But two of the biggest culprits are smoke and cooking odors. Smoking or proximity to smoke (e.g., being beside a campfire or barbecue) will cause clothes to smell. Tobacco smoke, in particular, has a strong and persistent smell that can be challenging to eliminate. Certain foods, such as spices, onions, and garlic, can leave lingering smells on clothes. Likewise, cooking can also transfer odors from the kitchen to garments.

How to keep clothes fresh in storage

If you want to keep clothes fresh while in storage, follow these handy tips:

  • Clean and dry – Ensure all garments are clean and completely dry before storing them. Dirt, stains, or moisture can lead to odors and damage over time.
  • Use air-tight containers – Store clothes in air-tight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to prevent dust, insects, and moisture from reaching them. This helps maintain their freshness.
  • Avoid plastic bags – Avoid using them for long-term storage, as they can trap moisture and lead to a musty smell. Breathable fabric or garment bags are a better option.
  • Choose a suitable location – Find a cool, dry, dark storage area for your clothes. High humidity, direct sunlight, and extreme temperature fluctuations can promote mold growth, mildew, and odors.
  • Periodic air out – If possible, take the opportunity to air out stored clothes regularly. Allow them to breathe and get some fresh air to prevent mustiness.
  • Use Storm OdorCrunch spray – Storm OdorCrunch spray will help combat the spread of bacteria and keep your clothes smelling fresh while in storage.

How to keep clothes fresh during the day

If you are looking to keep your everyday clothes fresh and odor-free, consider these top tips:

  • Choose breathable fabrics – Opt for fabrics that offer good air circulation, such as cotton, linen, or bamboo. These materials help prevent the build-up of moisture and odors compared to synthetic fabrics that often trap sweat and bacteria.
  • Allow clothes to air out – Whenever possible, refresh your clothes by hanging them in a well-ventilated area when you’re not wearing them. This allows any trapped odors to dissipate and helps prevent moisture build-up. It is particularly effective when applied to clothing with built-in Polygiene StayFresh protection.
  • Avoid layering fragrances – Though it may be tempting to mask odors with heavy perfumes or colognes, use them sparingly. A fragrance overload can quickly mix with natural body odors, resulting in an overpowering scent.
  • Spot clean when necessary – If you notice a particular area on your clothes has an odor, spot clean it with a mild detergent or fabric freshener. You can even whip up a mild vinegar solution. This can help address localized odors quickly.
  • Purchase Polygiene-protected clothing – Polygiene StayFresh and OdorCrunch solutions are designed to keep your clothes odor-free while reducing the need for washing. That means you reduce your energy and water consumption and benefit from odor-free clothes.

How to freshen up clothes without washing them

If you want to freshen up your clothes without washing them, consider the following methods:

  • Hanging outdoors – Hang the clothes outside on a clothesline or hanger in a well-ventilated area. Fresh air and sunlight can help eliminate odors naturally.
  • Steaming – Use a garment steamer to remove wrinkles and freshen up the fabric. The steam can help neutralize odors and give clothes a refreshed appearance.
  • Fabric fresheners – Use fabric fresheners or odor-neutralizing sprays specifically designed for clothes. Lightly mist the garments, keeping a suitable distance, and allow them to air dry. These products can help mask odors temporarily.
  • Hang in a steamy bathroom – Hang the clothes in a bathroom while you take a hot shower. The steam from the shower can help freshen the clothes by reducing odors.
  • Freeze your clothes – For clothes that are not washable or require delicate care, placing them in a sealed plastic bag and freezing them for a few hours can help kill odor-causing bacteria. Let them thaw at room temperature before wearing.

While these methods are effective, they are temporary solutions and not a substitute for regular washing.

Choosing the right types of material

While all fabrics have the potential to develop odors if not properly cared for, some materials are more prone to retaining and harboring smells than others. To avoid clothes that tend to hold onto odors, you may want to skip the following materials.

  • Synthetic fabrics – Fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic tend to trap odors more easily compared to natural fibers. 
  • Thick fabrics – Fabrics with a dense weave or thick construction, like wool or fleece, can retain odors due to their ability to absorb and hold onto moisture. 
  • Fabrics with poor moisture-wicking – Fabrics that do not effectively wick moisture away from the skin, such as silk or satin, can become smelly when exposed to perspiration. 
  • Non-breathable fabrics – Fabrics that restrict airflow and ventilation can trap moisture and sweat, leading to unpleasant smells.

It’s important to note that with the proper care, maintenance, and hygiene technology, even fabrics prone to odor retention can be kept fresh.

A look at Polygiene StayFresh

Polygiene StayFresh utilizes silver chloride, a salt naturally occurring in water and soil, to eliminate the bacteria responsible for bad odors. The silver ions present in the solution inhibit bacterial growth and provide protection for the entire lifespan of the garment. 

That means your clothes stay fresher for longer, and you can wash them less frequently, reducing your energy and resource consumption for a more environmentally friendly approach to clothing. Washing clothes less also means they last longer, so you don’t need to replace them as often, and you save money.

Understanding Polygiene OdorCrunch 

Polygiene OdorCrunch also tackles odors at the source. But instead of silver ion technology, it uses an innovative combination of natural river water and modified silica particles. The silica – the main ingredient in common sand – attracts the oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur molecules responsible for bad odors and breaks them down, eradicating the smells. 

Like Polygiene StayFresh, it enables you to wash your clothes less frequently and has a positive environmental impact. And it offers protection for a product’s entire lifespan, too.

You can find Polygiene technology in many well-known brands. Polygiene StayFresh is integrated into clothing products from Montane, M.M. LaFleur, GripGrab, and Maloja. While Polygiene OdorCrunch is used by brands like The North Face, Mosh Mos, Intersport, Forloh, and Intersport in their apparel.

If you want to learn more about Polygiene odor-control solutions and their impact on product performance, the environment, and sustainable manufacturing, take a look at our Freshness Solutions page. If you have any questions regarding Polygiene technologies, contact our experienced team.