Leggings have become a wardrobe staple for many women because they are versatile and comfortable to wear all day. These pair of stretchy pants also gained popularity due to the athleisure trend. Now, leggings that were initially designed for athletic activities are considered acceptable to wear in other settings including the workplace or other casual occasions.
Even as a beloved piece of clothing, leggings are not without faults. Sometimes, women might notice a foul odor coming from the crotch area of these bottoms. Being conscious of the scent can make it uncomfortable for them to move around and attend to their daily activities.
In case you are experiencing a similar problem, you will find the information below helpful. Keep reading to learn the possible causes of the crotch smell as well as different methods to avoid having the funky smells in your leggings. These tips may also encourage you to buy cotton leggings instead of polyester and help you to properly care for them.
What Causes the Foul Odor?
Before blaming it on the leggings, it’s a good idea to first check on your health. It’s possible that the smell is actually coming from your body. Vaginal odors can indicate the presence of an infection or other health problems. A distinct fishy odor can be linked to bacterial vaginosis, which is usually accompanied by some itchiness and white or grayish discharge. Also, a fishlike smell can be a sign of trichomoniasis, a common sexually transmitted infection. If you notice such a distinct scent, it’s best to consult your physician for proper treatment.
A more common culprit for the unpleasant smell sticking to your leggings is your sweat, or more accurately, the bacteria that mixes with it. Sweat itself doesn’t have an odor but when it is expelled by your body and comes in contact with the bacteria on your skin, the protein molecules in the sweat break down and cause a foul scent. Thus, a person who perspires a lot due to a medical condition or strenuous physical activity is more likely to have body odor.
Tips to Eliminate Odor in Your Leggings
While resolving any health issues is the first step to eliminating odor, there are ways to remove the unpleasant smell lingering in your stretchy pants and to avoid getting them at all. From your choice of leggings fabric to making changes in your laundry routine, here are some helpful tips to get rid of the funky odor in your leggings.
Avoid Synthetic Fibers
Odors are composed of unique chemical compounds. The body’s odor compounds are usually polar. If you wear clothes made of cotton, which is also polar, the cotton fibers can trap the chemical compounds of sweat and lead to a less intense body odor. When you wash cotton leggings, the fabric allows the water to get inside the fibers and wash away the odorous compounds. This leaves you with clean-smelling clothing.
Polyester, on the other hand, is a non-polar and non-absorbent material. It is a synthetic fabric with water-repellent properties that help to keep you dry during workouts. However, these same properties make it difficult for water to penetrate and clean its fibers. This is why it is difficult to get rid of the odor from leggings made of polyester.
Select Antimicrobial Fabrics
To eliminate your leggings’ funky scent, you need to address the root cause—the bacteria from sweat. Once you kill the bacteria, then you could also get rid of the unpleasant smell. You can do this by selecting leggings made of antimicrobial fabrics. Some brands carry clothing that is infused with copper, which has antimicrobial properties to prevent the build-up of odor even if the garments are made with polyester.
Wash Leggings Immediately
If you’ve just been to the gym and your clothes are soaked in sweat, wash your leggings immediately. Head to the laundry room and throw them into the washing machine so you can stop the bacteria from spreading and producing odors. Even if you didn’t sweat much, it’s best to wash your leggings after each use. Even a small amount of bacteria can proliferate and cause your clothes to stink if they aren’t washed immediately.
Avoid Using Fabric Softener
Whether in liquid or sheet form, you need to skip the fabric softener when washing your leggings. Fabric softeners can lock the stinky smell in the fabric. They leave behind a coating that can build up over time and transform into a barrier that keeps water and detergent from penetrating the clothes fibers. This traps the bacteria and dirt into the fabric, which makes cleaning and eliminating odors from your leggings difficult.
Wash Leggings Properly
Before washing your leggings, make sure to turn them inside out. Sweat, dead skin, and the natural oils your body produces can contribute to the stink in your clothes, and they tend to collect in the inner part of your pants. To make sure you get rid of all the nasty stuff, turning your leggings inside out ensures that the fabric that sticks to your skin is thoroughly washed.
Additionally, you may need to lessen the amount of detergent. Using more detergent will not make your leggings cleaner, and may actually have the opposite effect. Using a large amount of detergent can add to the stinky smell of your leggings because it results in the build up of soap residue on the clothes. This residue can develop more bacteria and contribute to the foul odor.
Given this fact, you need to be more cautious when scooping powder detergent or filling the cup of your liquid detergent. Take note of the recommended amount of detergent for small, medium, and large laundry loads.
Add Odor Eliminators
If you feel your laundry detergent is not enough to get rid of the unpleasant smells in your leggings, try adding some natural odor eliminators such as white vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice in the wash. These solutions are affordable and can be commonly found in most households.
To use vinegar, add a half to a full cup to the rinse cycle. You can do this by putting the liquid into the dispenser for fabric softener before turning on the machine. In case your leggings are smelling extra stinky, pre-soak them in the sink or in a basin with one cup of white vinegar and some cold water for 15 to 30 minutes. Then, put them in the washing machine.
Adding lemon juice can also eliminate the odor from your leggings. The citric acid in the lemon can break down any oils sticking to the fabric as well as the bacteria that are making your pants smell funky. More importantly, lemon juice gets rid of the odor and doesn’t just mask it, unlike how fabric softeners work. To use, squeeze one large lemon and add the juice into the washing machine.
On the other hand, baking soda is an ideal odor eliminator because its alkaline properties combat the acidic smell from sweat. It is also effective in absorbing oil that tends to come with the odor. To use, add one cup of baking soda along with your laundry detergent into the washing machine.
Skip High Heat Drying
Heat can amplify the funky odor of your leggings. If you’re going to use a dryer, use the low or no-heat setting. But the best option is to hang your leggings outside to dry. The sun and fresh air are effective in getting rid of unpleasant odors.
Leggings are stylish pieces of clothing that are very comfortable to wear. But if your favorite pair smells funky, it can be embarrassing to put them on. Follow the tips mentioned above to save your favorite pair and prevent the problem from recurring.