The Science Of Odor And How To Get Rid Of It

If you’re an athlete that regularly goes in and out of locker rooms, you know exactly what odor we’re talking about. Playing a sport for years might’ve pushed you into shrugging away the sweaty smell that your friends and family complain about, but doing so will only make the problem grow!

As frustrating as it can be to deal with cleaning out your gear, it’s worth the time investment. Our goal is to ensure that you don’t have to plug your nose every time you zip open your duffle bag.

Allow us to share our findings on the science behind gear odor and a few helpful steps you can take to avoid uncomfortable smells.

The Science Behind Sports-Related Odor

Ski and snowboard boots exposed in the rental winter shop


Though it’s no secret that playing sports encourages many unpleasant bodily smells, you might be wondering how that odor permeates your gear and why it’s so difficult to shake. To explain how it works, let’s use hockey as an example. Some hockey locker rooms have fans or high heating to assist in drying the equipment. This is a huge mistake because:

  • Bacteria, mildew, and mold, stem from wet and warm environments
  • Sweat is made of proteins that thrive in this environment which causes the unpleasant odor
  • Heated areas make it easier for bacteria to spread throughout the entire room
  • Warm environments also cause the body to sweat more than usual
  • Heat-drying your gear will make the odor stick for an extended period of time

As tempting as it may be to spray Febreze as a solution to gear odor, it will only make the problem long-lasting as the effects wear off rather quickly. 

How You Can Reduce Bacteria And Odor

Healthy young friends doing exercises outdoors.They do streching before their workout.

You’ve likely heard comments about the stench in your bag multiple times before. Breaking a sweat on the field or the ice isn’t something to fret about. Here are some ways you can reduce the chances of spreading bacteria around your gear:

  • Air Out Your Gym Bag:

    Athletes are always on the go. It’s easy to toss your stuff into a bag and have it travel from car rides to practices and back home again without realizing how much stench is inside. After every use, air out your gym bag to avoid leaving your sweaty clothes bunched together. The last thing you want to do is trap all the built-up odor in your gym bag. Once you return home, remove your gear and let your bag air-dry in a cold space. We recommend keeping it overnight in a basement or garage.

    Healthy young woman preparing for morning workout.

  • Daily/Weekly Clean:

    If you use your gear more than 3 times a week, we recommend doing daily cleans of all your equipment. Before putting your clothing items into your laundry machine, turn them inside out so that all the sweat, oil, and bacteria that has accumulated inside gets targeted. Try not to use more detergent than normal. While that may seem like it will clean your items more, it actually makes them harder to rinse.

Closeup low angle view of a late 20'sman doing some cardio workout on a treadmill. He's wearing gray sports t-shirt, soaked in sweat.There are three more people next to him, blurry. Back lit, Sun is flaring from the right hand side.

  • Have More Than One Uniform:

    We know how heartbreaking it is to let go of your lucky jersey, but it’s necessary if you want to reduce odor. Instead of relying on one uniform, get a backup. Alternating between uniforms will give you more time to properly clean out each set.

  • Toss Off Your Gear During Breaks:

    This tip might not be doable for every sport, but it does work for some. During breaks between games, toss off your jersey and let it sit out beside you. Your body continuously builds more sweat, even when you step off for a few moments. Letting your gear get some air between plays will reduce a bit of the odor.

Don’t Want To Clean Out Your Gear Alone?

Sports concept. Basketball, tennis racket, baseball, glove, soccer ball, football to left of unique wooden boards background. Selective focus on wooden boards.

If you think you’ve passed the point of no return with the odor in your bag, let us work our magic for you! Save yourself the hassle and time commitment by letting us do what we do best. With over 30 years of experience, we know what it takes to remove bacteria and stench by sanitizing, cleaning, and maintaining gear the right way.

At Love Your Gear, we use a specialized cleaning process that completely eliminates any potential bacteria, viruses, mold spores, fungus, and more.

We are dedicated to ensuring that all of your sports gear is odor-free with a money-back guarantee. To learn more about our sports cleaning services and prices, feel free to contact us today to get a free quote for gear cleaning.