Odor Control Solutions by Polygiene

Maloja integrates Polygiene solutions into the Mountain People Collection’s ahead-of-the-game performance wear

What are odor-control solutions?

Odor-control solutions refer to technology that eliminates or mitigates unpleasant odors. It typically includes additives that manufacturers integrate into products to neutralize smells that would otherwise linger in and on materials.

As such, manufacturers use odor-control technology in clothing, bedding, footwear and homeware. For instance, Polygiene anti-odor technology is found in everything from sneaker insoles and cycling shorts to bed linen and towels to ice hockey gloves.

What causes odors?

When we talk about odor-causing technologies, we often categorize odors into two broad groups:

  1. Bacterial odors – odors that result from the spread of bacteria and other microbes. Microbial metabolic processes are responsible for many unpleasant smells.
  2. Environmental odors – odors from external sources, such as smoke from fires or cooking smells.

Both types of odor can be caused in several different ways. These include:

Materials – particularly fabrics and textiles – trap odorous molecules between fibers. Oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur molecules are especially prone to causing bad smells and easily become intertwined with surfaces. While our understanding of what makes a molecule odorous is based on relatively recent research, it appears that volatility and hydrophobicity are the principal determinants (Monell Center). For a molecule to be smelly, it must be volatile (but not too volatile) and also sufficiently hydrophobic.

Some odorous compounds form weak chemical bonds with fabric fibers. These bonds are not always easy to break, leading the material to retain the smell. This process is known as adsorption. Technically speaking, adsorption is the adhesion of molecules or atoms from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface. In the case of fabrics, adsorption occurs when odorous compounds in the air come into contact with the fabric surface and interact with the molecules of the fibers.

Bacteria and fungi often thrive in moist or damp environments. Consequently, they are a common cause of bad odors in activewear and other products regularly exposed to sweat or water. Bacteria are living organisms that require energy for growth and survival. As they metabolize nutrients, they produce byproducts and waste products. These byproducts and waste products can be volatile, contributing to unpleasant odors. Some bacteria even metabolize the proteins in sweat and release odorous compounds in the process.

UP Clothing has incorporated Polygiene StayFresh technology into their sustainable activewear line
Polygiene StayFresh is used in high-end trekking models like the Gregory Baltoro/Deva, KatmaiI/Kalmia and Focal/Facet

How does odor-control technology work?

As unpleasant odors result from various processes, odor-control technologies must counteract them in several ways. Below, we examine four core ways these solutions achieve their aims.

Silica is the primary ingredient in common sand. And it is a fantastic odor-control technology. Silica attracts odor-causing molecules to its surface and away from the fabric fibers. The silica then absorbs the molecules and starts breaking down the shell around them. No longer able to remain active, the molecule is permanently eliminated, and the accompanying offensive odor is removed for good. Polygiene OdorCrunch™ is an excellent example of this type of technology.

Silver ion technologies often utilize silver chloride, a salt that occurs naturally in water and soil. The positively charged silver ions in silver chloride benefit from antimicrobial properties. They act on odor-causing bacteria by:

  • Binding to the cell membrane proteins responsible for transporting substances in and out of the bacterial cells.
  • Binding to the cell DNA to prevent block cell division.
  • Blocking the bacterial respiratory system to inhibit cellular energy production.

All three interventions hamper bacterial growth, inhibiting the odor-causing bacteria. Polygiene StayFresh™ is an excellent example of this type of technology.

Masking is one of the most simple odor-control techniques. It involves covering a foul odor with a pleasant one. This enables manufacturers to impregnate products with specific scents that encourage brand loyalty by fostering a strong olfactory association. However, care must be taken to ensure that the masking scent does not combine with other odors and result in an unpleasant odor combination.

Polygiene ScentMaster™ is an excellent example of this type of technology

Deodorizing technologies are often used in conjunction with masking technologies. They do not eliminate foul odors. Instead, they trick the human olfactory system into only recognizing pleasant smells and ignoring offensive odors. In some instances, Polygiene ScentMaster™ utilizes deodorizing technologies to further enhance odor control.

The benefits of odor-control technology

While the primary benefit associated with odor-control technology is the elimination of unpleasant smells, this results in a diverse array of secondary benefits.

By eliminating unpleasant smells, odor-control technology allows you to wash your clothes less frequently. This has a significant environmental impact. A recent independent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on a Polygiene StayFresh-treated t-shirt showed that skipping every other wash saves 51 kWh of energy and 3,800 liters of water a year. That is great for the environment, extends products’ expected lifespans, and saves customers money.

Odor-control technology that tackles bacteria is more hygienic and can play an important role in minimizing bacterial growth and spread. It can be a crucial protective technology in environments where hygiene is paramount, such as hospitals.

Smelling fresher makes people feel better. When customers are confident they don’t smell, they approach life differently. They are more likely to embrace opportunities and can focus on what really matters rather than worrying whether their clothes smell. Whether odor-control technologies are used in workwear to ensure consumers can focus on delivering their next presentation with total confidence or in lifestyle and fashion apparel to allow for total freedom of expression, greater self-confidence has an enormous impact on consumers’ ability to excel.

Odor-control technologies can help build brand loyalty by encouraging customers to associate your products with a delightful scent. The associated performance gains may also mean customers prefer to shop for products with integrated odor-control technology. For instance, runners who benefit from the wear more, wash less approach may actively seek out activewear with integrated odor-control technologies.

Smelling fresher makes people feel better
Polygiene’s odor control technologies can be incorporated into a wide range of products

Exploring odor-control use cases

The potential applications for odor-control technology are almost endless. Below, we provide several use cases to demonstrate the technology’s versatility.

From running tops to cycling shorts and everything in between, odor-control technology is found in a wide range of sports and outdoor performance apparel.

Manufacturers include odor-control technology to counter the unpleasant odors that often linger in footwear products.

Clothes that are worn close to the body and cover sensitive areas are a particularly popular use case, especially when it comes to antimicrobial odor-control solutions.

As well as apparel, manufacturers integrate technology solutions into home textiles like bed sheets, curtains, and furniture.

Footwear accessories, such as insoles, are another common use case. After all, there is not much use protecting the shoe itself if you ignore the insole.

Quick-drying microfiber towels are prone to developing unpleasant odors. Odor-control solutions ensure they smell and feel fresh.

Manufacturers can scent bin liners to mask the smell of food waste and other rubbish while also developing strong olfactory brand associations.

Some businesses integrate scents into their packaging, so when you open the product, you are hit with a strong, recognizable scent.

Polygiene’s innovative technologies

The Polygiene product portfolio contains three distinct solutions.

Polygiene OdorCrunch

Polygiene OdorCrunch™ is a silica-based odor-control technology that businesses integrate into textiles at the point of manufacture. It “crunches” the molecules responsible for foul odors, eliminating them from fabrics and keeping them smelling fresh. Crucially, Polygiene OdorCrunch is in products, not on them, providing odor-control protection for a product’s entire lifespan. It works by absorbing smell-producing molecules, such as sulfur, oxygen and nitrogen, breaking down the bonds, nullifying them and releasing them. 

Polygiene StayFresh™

Polygiene StayFresh™ is a silver ion-based technology that manufacturers embed in textiles to provide freshness across a product’s expected lifespan. It tackles odor-causing bacteria, stopping smells at the source, preventing bacterial spread, and making products more hygienic in the process. Polygiene StayFresh works by binding to the cell membrane to limit growth, inhibiting enzymes to hamper energy production and preventing cellular replication.