Tips on how to keep your kit from stinking up your desk

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Yesterday on my way home from work, the Evening Standard had an article about how offices should offer showers and lockers to running and cycling commuters.

I am all about reducing stink and have been run commuting for a few months in prep for the London Marathon.  I have learned the hard way that millions of microscopic bacteria are the reason why your gym clothes smell after a sweaty workout.  If you wash your clothes with the wrong cycle, temperature or detergent, you will compromise the fabric, reducing its quality.  Poor maintenance of the fabrics means less wicking, longer dry time and the perfect conditions for bacterial growth.  If I am running a race in hot temps, I stink a lot more at the finish line if I dump water on my head than if I don’t.

Nobody wants to be ‘that guy or gal’ who has an office strung up with sweaty gym kit with a smell that permeates the canteen.  Here are a few things to think about to keep the smell of victory to a minimum in the office.

Tip 1: Choose the right material

When you are buying new workout gear, avoid cotton like the plague and instead look for:

Merino wool is a natural solution to avoiding post-workout odours.  Made from the wool the Merino breed of sheep, this kind of wool doesn’t itch, helps you thermoregulate and doesn’t smell due to a natural oil secreted by the sheep called lanolin.  Icebreaker, Smartwool, and ashmei are all brands that work with merino wool.

ashmei offices in Tring

You can also look for the Polygiene logo. It is a silver-ion treatment of the fabric before final manufacturing occurs that prevents bacterial growth.  It is permanently integrated into the fabric and will not wash out. Companies such as lululemon, Ron Hill, Adidas, Poc, DaKine and Polartech are just a few examples of partner brands that use this treatment on their products.

Polygiene socks make stretching out in the dining room more bearable.

Tip 2: Wash it with the right stuff

This seems like the natural thing to do but sometimes the detergent we use or the water temperature settings don’t actually kill the bacteria.  Don’t use fabric softeners on your tech fabrics as this could leave a residue that will effectively take away the wicking properties.  A few products you could try are:

Revive by Odo Sport is designed to keep synthetic sports kit clean, oudor-free, and functioning properly. It shields the fabric from acquiring dirt between washes and adds a fast-drying agent to help kit to dry more quickly (which will keep stink down too).

Nik Wax Basewash®  effectively cleans, deodorises, inhibits the build up of body odours, accelerates drying and improves cooling efficiency of synthetic base layers.  If you have wool baselayers (we’ll talk about material choice in a minute), use NikWax Wool Wash™ instead.

Mr Black’s Sport Wash is all natural and biodegradable, yet able to squash the bacteria that cause your technical kit to smell a bit funky.  Their philosophy is to prolong the life of your clothes as you have invested in them (and we all know how much good kit can cost).

Run commute warrior!
A final option if you want to wash your clothes is to send clothes out during the day to be laundered. Indoor cycling studio and fitness gym H2 offers this as a service with a 48 hour turn-around time, which means the sweaty clothes never make it to your office to cause any offence.

Tip 3: Use Pay As You Gym (PAYG) to shower

Perhaps your training schedule only requires you to run or cycle in once or twice a week.  If your office doesn't offer shower or lockeroom facilities, look on the PAYG website to locate an inexpensive gym facility near work where you can freshen up and change before your first meeting.  Long term it might not be cost-effective, but it could also help you smell fresh for the rest of the day.

Tip 4: Run home instead

Sounds simple enough, but make exercise a priority and run home from work instead of going to the pub.  That way sweaty clothes can air out in the comfort in your living room instead of your work cubicle.  Of course, it is challenging to keep the motivation up over the course of a day but think about how you will feel as the endorphins start flowing after a few minutes of sweating.

If you have any other ideas on how to keep your office from smelling like a locker room, please comment below.  I  know Londoners can be pretty creative with this sort of thing.

Portions of this post originally appeared on the H2 Life Blog.

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