Chemical Free Living:
This Is How To Get The Summer Stink Out Of Clothing
Summer has lots of wonderful smells – freshly cut grass, s’mores, the beach, BBQs. But it also brings us an array of odors that are really unpleasant! Ever noticed the cloud of stink that surrounds your kids and their backpacks after a day at summer camp? The smells that theoretically should be impossible for pre-pubescent children? Those feet! That clothing! That backpack with it’s damp, rancid swim towel & festering turkey sandwich! Or maybe you have older kids who come home at the end of the day in clothing so sweaty and stinky that you have to treat it like a hazmat operation, isolating it to its own special laundry operation. And we are not immune as parents. Hello, stinky yoga clothing, Anyone? Running shirts that still stink after 2 washes on hot? Summer is just stinky, that’s all there is to it.
For dealing with summer stink, there are are plenty of deodorizers on the market. However, there are 2 reasons you might not want to rely on them.
- Most of them contain nasty toxic chemicals, allergens and irritants that aren’t safe on skin or safe to be inhaled or touched by your kids. For example, most fragranced deodorizers contain phthalates, which are nasty hormone-disruptors you don’t want anywhere near your kids. And sadly, manufacturers don’t even have to list phthalates on their ingredient labels! Sure there are some deodorizers out there that claim to be “natural”, but the problem is that even these typically contain dangerous chemicals because there are no federal standards for what makes a product “natural”. Finding a toxic chemical free deodorizer takes a little more sleuthing. More on that below.
- Your laundry habits might actually be what’s locking in those nasty odors. If you change those habits, you can make huge improvement in your odor problem. Some of the things we do to remove odors in our clothing are actually making the odor problem worse.
Not to worry! We’re here to help with a few simple tips to help you stop that summer stink.
Why oh why is it so hard to get odors out of clothing?
Sweat, the natural oils from skin, and dead skin all contribute to the stubborn odor that is so hard to remove from clothing. When it comes to athletic clothing, this problem is exacerbated by the types of fabrics used. Spandex and Lycra are most commonly used because these materials stretch and are sweat-wicking. The goal is for the moisture to be drawn to the surface of the clothing where it can evaporate. The problem is that on a hot, sticky summer day, there is no such thing as evaporation! The sweat stays within the clothing. To complicate matters, sweat-wicking fabrics also repel water, so that extra stinky sweaty clothing doesn’t get thoroughly cleaned in the wash.
5 tips to eliminate the odor in clothing:
- Wash after one wearing and as soon after as possible. Don’t let them sit and fester. If you ever left a running shirt in the bottom of the hamper for a few days by accident, you know what we mean!
- Ditch the fabric softener – You may think the nice fragrance will help, but it’s making the problem worse. Fabric softeners leave a coating on clothing fibers that prevents them from getting completely clean – so yes, they actually lock in the smell. And from a safety standpoint, you might want to eliminate them anyway. 88% of dryer sheets get D or F safety ratings on EWG. Part of what’s driving the poor safety rating is fragrance. Fragrances are designed to stay on clothing, which means skin is exposed to them. Fragrance chemicals are classified as carcinogens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, skin and respiratory irritants. Suprisingly, fragrances are considered trade secrets, meaning that manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the potentially hundreds of ingredients hiding behind the one word “fragrance”. Net, skip that fabric softener.
- Use LESS, not more, detergent – You’d think it would make sense to add extra detergent on a super stinky load – but that’s actually the opposite of what you should do. It’s making the smell worse. Your washer is set to handle a standard level of detergent, so any more than that causes a residue that won’t get rinsed out. And yes, that residue leads to odor.
- Use the lowest dryer heat – High heat cooks in any lingering smells so in our opinion it’s not worth the shorter drying time. Another reason to use low heat is that often the fabrics used in athletic clothing are plastic-based, which means they don’t hold up well in high heat.
- Before you throw them in the hamper or wash, spray down washable clothes with a toxic chemical free deodorizer like Force of Nature. It will remove the odor that your detergent can’t handle. It stops even the most tenacious odors yet has no toxic fragrances, preservatives, allergens or irritants.
Gear that can’t go in the wash like backpacks, camping gear & shoes
So what do you do about stinky items that can’t go into the washing machine? The tricks here are choosing a toxic chemical free deodorizer and knowing how to use it properly. You’ll want to choose one that won’t remove color or damage materials like leather trim & hardware like zippers and snaps. A good option is Force of Nature, because it has bleach-strength deodorizing power but it won’t remove color on colorfast fabrics. Then the trick is fully saturating the area that smells (and if it’s the whole item, saturate the whole item), then letting it dry. Some people think you can just lightly spray a smelly area to make the odor go away, but the deodorizer has to come into full contact with the source of the odor in order to work. Take that musty sleeping bag for camping – a light spray isn’t going to do it if the source of the odor is festering deep within the insulation. Or with a child’s backpack. If they spilled milk on it on a 90 degree day, then holy stench, Batman! You have to thoroughly saturate the backpack, then let it dry. Same with shoes – make sure you really saturate the insole, then let it dry.
A toxic chemical free deodorizer that stops summer stink
We hope these tips will get you on your way to a sweeter smelling summer. In the meantime, as you hunt for a non toxic deodorizer, check out Force of Nature. It’s a little appliance that turns salt, water and vinegar into a toxic chemical free deodorizer as effective as bleach and Febreze. Because it has no harmful chemicals, residues or fumes, you don’t have to worry about using it around your kids or pets. The technology has been used in the industrial space for over 50 years, but it used to require a $10,000 piece of huge industrial equipment. Force of Nature has miniaturized this technology into a little appliance that sits right on your countertop. To learn more, hop on over here.