Smelly Fabrics? Sink-the-Stink etc...

So what fabrics are best for Summer paddling? Which fabrics get smelly and which ones don’t? Best to worst? Thanks!

You shouldn’t have problems…

– Last Updated: Apr-08-09 5:15 PM EST –

...with any fabrics retaining odors. Some synthetics like polypropylene had problems with that years ago, but current fabrics are dramatically better. They're also more comfortable and more durable. I wear synthetics while paddling year round and save the comfy cotton stuff for on shore.

As for treatments like "Sink the Stink", they're a complete waste of money. IME, they don't do anything that a thorough washing/rinsing and COMPLETE drying won't do. While they do nothing to reduce odors, they are very effective at removing money from your wallet.

Which ones get smelly?
The ones that get balled up damp instead of being aired out (or washed).

The ones that get worn too many times before being washed.

The ones that rarely get laundry detergent, or at least soap.

I wash my wicking/breathable paddling clothes in normal detergent, shampoo, or hand soap (when nothing better is available). Seems to do the job well. Neoprene is a bit harder to rid of stink–it’s best hung inside-out in bright sunshine after washing. This will no doubt provoke grave warnings about UV deterioration, but sunlight does SINK THE STINK. All my neoprene booties need the sunlight treatment to stay stink-free.

With neoprene, the key is…
…COMPLETE drying between uses. Also, wearing something between your skin and the neoprene dramatically reduces the likelihood of odor issues. For example, wearing socks in neoprene boots will pretty much prevent them from getting smelly, assuming that you rinse and dry them. The odor-causing bacteria feed on skin cells and skin oil, which the socks (in this case) help to trap. Although I don’t use wetsuits for paddling, I would expect similar performance from wearing a thin under layer in them, though if the suit fits properly, that could be difficult.

my rash guard
is the only issue not drying fast enough…

it says to wash by hand and line dry which I do but has a slight odor to it…

I don’t have this problem with any neoprene, or other insulating layers… in fact the neoprene dries much faster…

so next time I’ll look for the anti microbial fabric for rash guard…

I’ll probably just run it through the washer drier anyway… or at least washer and dry it in direct sun…

Merino wool
I had read about marino wool shirts not getting the “lingering stink” most synthetic shirts are subject to developing, so I bought one.

As an experiment, I wore the same marino wool shirt at Raystown last Fall, from Monday morning (early arrival) to Sat. afternoon. I had plenty of other clothing with me, this was just a experiment. There was a shower with hot water nearby and I took a shower every day, putting the same marino wool shirt back on after.

The result from wearing the same shirt 24 hours a day for 4 1/2 days: NO STINK.

PA in mid Oct it is cool and I would guess the result would be somewhat different in much warmer weather, but still quite impressive.


Penguin Sportwash
I find that synthetics for cycling, gym and boating tend to retain odors, while my normal clothing does not.

I found Penguin Sport wash at the store and it seems to have corrected the problem.

Also worked on my neoprene booties.

Armpit smell
Merino wool will still get some armpit BO smell. I’ve noticed it on some cyclists’ wool jerseys way back when. OTOH, it still stinks less than some other fabrics do.

Wet wool will get its own kind of stink: wet dog smell.

Original polypropylene could kill an ox
…with the smell from just one active session. Plus it did not wick well; sweat would just sit on the skin. The shirt would retain much of the smell even after laundering. No wonder wool was so popular back then.

Now there are lots of good choices in lots of fabric weights and “openness”.

Well, I had heard of Merino wool being good, and polypro being bad, but had wondered what modern synthetics were considered good?

On the other topic of detergents; I agree that soaking overnight in ordinary laundry detergent seems to work just as well or better than the special “treatments.”

drying the rash guard and neo (hydroskin) socks in a little sun does the trick. I was line drying inside in a well heated and vented area but they didn’t dry fast enough.

One of my hydroskin socks got mold inside.

Even 30 minutes in the morning sun does the trick.

They just need a little extra heat to finish drying.

White Vinegar
I keep a spray bottle of white vinegar about for the funky booties- works every time. Have also used it on rash guards and other paddling clothes when I don’t have time or circumstances to wash and air dry.