The key to finding out how to stop your base layers smelling is to understand the biological mechanisms causing the stench in the first place.
When humans sweat they excrete two different types of perspiration, eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine sweat is excreted all over your body and is watery, slightly salty and generally unoffensive smelling. Apocrine sweat on the other hand is made up of fatty compounds excreted from your groin and glands in your armpits, and is unsurprisingly a lot smellier.
The real stench however comes from the waste products of a range of viral, bacterial and fungal strains contained in your skins natural micro-biome breaking down the apocrine sweat, as well as other bodily products, such as dead skin cells.
Now we understand why we smell, lets talk about strategies for keeping our base layers smelling fresh:
Wash Base Layers Regularly
This might sound obvious but a regular cleaning routine for your base layers will do wonders for keeping the niff at bay. Removing the smell causing bacteria’s food source i.e. perspiration, will greatly reduce lingering odours. Regular washing will also reduce the build-up of stink causing microbes in the first place,
*Just a quick word of warning – Always remember to follow the manufacturers washing instructions for your base layers. These will be found on a sewn in neck or side label. Do not freestyle, as you may end up with deformed, shrunk, or literally destroyed thermals.
Use A Dedicated Base Layer Cleaner
If you just use household detergents to clean your base layers, then you are missing a trick. Not only can regular use be damaging to base layers, they often only mask smells rather than remove them.
Once in a while, give your thermals a bit of TLC and treat them to a dedicated cleaner such as Storm Cares Base And Mid Layer Wash. Not only will they help to remove stubborn ingrained smells, they will also soften the fabric and decrease the drying time.
Avoid Fabrics Microbes Love
Polyester base layers are manna from heaven for smell causing fungus and bacteria. If someone next to you stinks after going out for a run, then you can bet your bottom dollar that their base layer is produced from polyester
Fabrics most inhospitable to smell creating microbes are those made form natural fibres, like wool and cotton. The downside of these base layers is they are not very good at moisture management, are not particularly easy to wash, and often have short shelf lives if used regularly.
A good compromise is to wear Polyamide base layers. These are more robust and just as easy to wash as polyester base layers, but are nowhere near as attractive to microbes, allowing you to smell sweeter for longer.
Dry Base Layers Thoroughly
No wash is going to remove all the smell causing microbes from your base layers, and a damp one is a breeding ground for smell causing nasties – Anybody who has left a sweaty thermal in a plastic bag for a few days will testify to what we are talking about.
The good thing about modern synthetic base layers is that they dry very quickly, and the quicker you dry them, the less time there is for microbes to multiply.
Again, remember to read the garments washing instructions thoroughly as many base layers cannot be dried in a tumble dryer.
Store Them Washed And Dried
When it comes to storing your base layers away for the summer, always wash them thoroughly first, preferably with a dedicated base layer cleaner, ensuring they are fully dry. This will help to reduce smells reappearing in storage as you remove the food source and optimum environment for smell causing bacteria to grow.
If you can, avoid placing them in plastic storage bags as any moisture present will linger and provide an ideal growing medium for any smell causing bacteria. The best way would be to hang them up in a wardrobe, or place them in a draw where clothes are constantly moved around.
Conclusion: How To Stop Your Base Layers From Smelling
We’ve all experienced the unpleasantness of stinky base layers, either our own or a friends. Smells that linger are usually caused by poor laundry habits, and can usually be remedied by washing them regularly using a dedicated base layer wash and ensuring they are fully dried before folding away.
Sometimes though, base layers have been neglected for so long that they are passed redemption. If this is the case with yours then think about investing in a good quality durable thermal that can be easily laundered, such as our Factor 1 Plus base layer range.