What’s Causing Odor on My Sports Equipment?

As an athlete, have you ever walked into a locker room that smelled so bad, you could barely breathe? As a parent of an athlete, remember all of those terrible car rides with a stinky kid after practice? How about when you made the mistake of leaving their equipment in the trunk or back seat? Now that we’re all reacquainted with “THAT SMELL”, what exactly is it? Believe it or not, the smell coming from that gym bag is caused by B.O. No, not body odor. B.O or bromidrosis, is what is produced by the bacteria that is feeding on old sweat and body secretions, causing the foul smell that is loved by no one. How do you prevent equipment from carrying this B.O scent? First, you must understand what causes the scent to learn how to combat it.

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It’s no secret that athletes sweat while participating in sports, whether it’s a practice, game, or training session. Although our sweat is ninety nine percent water, the remaining one percent is made up of small amount of inorganic and organic compounds including salts, ammonia, and urea. Bacteria that live on the skin, such as Staphylococcus eupdermis and Propionibacteria acnes, feed on these organic and inorganic compounds, essentially breaking them down into even smaller compounds. The byproduct produced from this process is what produces the smell of sweat. Understanding that there are between two and five million sweat glands on a human, it’s easy to understand how an athlete wearing a significant amount of gear, like a hockey player, lacrosse player, or football player, can end up having their gear soaked in sweat after just a short period of time. These sweat filled pads, gloves, and jerseys are a breeding ground for infectious bacteria to transfer from a host to carriers, as well as running the risk of developing molds and fungus within the pads if not properly cared for.

One of the main culprits, which cause equipment to stink, is the gym bag. It’s always been a running joke that gym bags smell terrible, but it’s our own fault for allowing them to get that way. 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 B.O byproduct. Developing a routine following practices, games, or workouts can not only help cut down on the smells put off by sporting equipment, but can also protect you from infectious bacteria that may have been transferred onto equipment or clothing from others.

Taking care of sporting equipment is fairly easy to do, and can truly make a difference in the performance of the gear, as well as reducing the risk of transferable diseases, such as Staph and MRSA. After use, find a place with good air circulation to hang the equipment to dry. Utilize a sports disinfectant spray like Clear Gear Sports Spray to disinfect and deodorize the insides and outsides of your equipment.  Treating equipment with Clear Gear Sports Spray is much safer than using a diluted bleach solution, that can cause skin irritation, especially since Clear Gear is safe on skin, and can be applied and then left to dry.  You can also treat the inside of your gym bag or gear bag with Clear Gear to get rid of the funky smells.

To remove the sweat smell from clothing and uniforms, try pre-treating the clothing with a mixture of detergent, warm water, and lemon juice.  Many materials used in athletic wear are made from fibers that repel water, such a Spandex or Lyrca. This pre-treatment routine will help break up oils and body excrement that may have found its way in between fibers in the fabric. Scrubbing the mixture into the neck line, arm pits, and back will help clean areas where sweat will soak into the shirt the most. With these tips, you’ll finally be able to fight back against that locker room scent being brought home by your child. Have some other tips that help get rid of sports equipment smell? Leave them in the comments below and let’s discuss!

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