As an avid mountain biker and owner of some pretty expensive Oakley and Pearl shorts and jerseys, I could not understand why overtime my gear smelled like a musty, mildewed towel after they came out of the wash. It got so bad I really could not stand to even put on my biking attire. Not only were my clothes smelling, I was beginning to notice they were beginning to feel like sandpaper and losing their wicking properties.

I felt like our laundry detergent was not doing a thing to clean my biking clothes, all in while, not really doing anything about the gross smell. I began a desperate search to find out why and if there was a solution that would clean the dirt out, not dissolve or weaken the synthetic fibers and most important, get the smell out of my bike clothes.

So I started where we all start a research project, the internet. I wanted to discover if others were having the same problem, why it was happening, and finally what to do about it. So to my delight, others were also in stink heaven. What was interesting was most of the issues tended to be with high tech fabrics. It seems the more expensive, the more they stunk over time. So why does synthetic or high tech sports clothing start to smell over time? The answer is in how dense the material is woven. The denser the material, the better it breaths and ultimately the better it wicks. Here lies the root of the problem. As your body sweats, these fabrics are designed to wick moisture away from the body but in the process trap fats and oils deep in the fibers. Because these fabrics are so dense normal laundry detergent is not molecularly small enough to get into these areas and wash away the fats and oils. Overtime bacteria start to hide out in the fibers eating the oils and fats. The digestive byproduct, yep… you guessed bacteria poop, is what caused the smells. Some sportswear is starting to advertise being antimicrobial. For the most part, these are chemicals that are washed into the fibers but after several washings they lose their bacteria fighting ability. Silver synthetics has been the only proven long term method, however, most of these product have been removed from the market for fear of ground water contamination.

So over the past 3 or 4 years, specially formulated detergents have hit the market designed to properly kill bacteria as well as wash away the trapped fats and oils. For the most part these products use hydrogen peroxide as the active cleaning agent. Basically hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen atom. One of these detergents is WIN Sports Detergent. They were the official detergent of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. It was the first time a detergent was allowed sponsorship at the Olympics. In my trial test of WIN, I discovered it did work. I especially liked the way it left my clothes smelling. After several washes, I also noticed my clothes were noticeable softer. Certainly a bonus! If you are troubled by the smell of your sports clothing, I hope this helps you solve the problem as it did me.