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Polyester Clothing Stink more than Cotton after a Work Out

Update Date: Sep 06, 2014 11:55 AM EDT

The next time you work out, you might want to look at the tags of your clothes. According to a new study, polyester clothing tends to stink a lot more than cotton clothing after a sweaty workout.

For this study, the researchers recruited 26 healthy adults who were instructed to take an intensive, hour-long bicycle spinning class. The researchers collected the participants' t-shirts and incubated them for 28 hours. The researchers used a trained odor panel to inspect the shirts. They also examined the taxonomy of the bacteria found on the shirts and in the axillaries.

The researchers reported that fresh sweat barely had any odor. First author, Chris Callewaert of Ghent University in Belgium explained that when people sweat, the axillaries secrete long-chain fatty acids that are "too big to be volatile." However, when these acids come into contact with bacteria, they break down into molecules that have odor. The bacteria also break down hormones and sulfur compounds. The team reported that the most common bacteria that they found on the polyester clothing were micrococci.

"They [micrococci] are known for their enzymatic potential to transform long-chain fatty acids, hormones, and amino acids into smaller-volatile-compounds, which have a typical malodor," Callewaert stated according to the press release. "The micrococci are able to grow better on polyester."

Other bacteria that were present included staphylococci, which did not cause bad body odor and corynebacteria, which are responsible for body odor in the armpits but not on the clothing.

"BO is taboo, and its prevalence is greatly underestimated," Callewaert stated. "There is little these people can do to help themselves. Some of them are too psychologically distressed to talk to strangers, or even to leave the house, afraid of what people might think of their smell."

The researchers stated that wearing cotton workout clothing can help reduce body odor. The study, "Microbial Odor Profile of Polyester and Cotton Clothes After a Fitness Session," was published in the journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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