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    How to Get the Smell Out of Your Outdoor Gear

    How to Get the Smell Out of Your Outdoor Gear

    By Alex ToddGeneral

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    Anyone who spends an ample amount of time hiking or exploring outdoors has encountered the dilemma of how to get the smell out of your outdoor gear, and it can sometimes feel like a hopeless exercise. While even the hardiest, most high-tech articles of outdoor apparel have an expiry date on how long they can hold out before succumbing to the stench of strenuous activity, there are some things you can do to keep foul odours at bay.

    Read on to discover some tips and tricks on how to get the smell out of your outdoor gear. Who knows, they just might help extend the shelflife of your favourite hiking shirt or bring back a smelly pair of cycling socks from the dead!

    Why Does Your Outdoor Gear Smell?

    There are a number of reasons why your clothes might stink (no judgment here), but when it comes to outdoor gear the main culprit is bacteria. During strenuous exercise your body produces plenty of sweat, and while this sweat doesn’t really smell in and of itself, it does create a moist environment in which bacteria thrive.

    Modern outdoor clothing – and base layers in particular – wicks sweat away from the surface of the body so that it can more easily evaporate, keeping you dry, cool, and comfortable. The only downside to this process is that, while the moisture might evaporate from the clothing, bacteria remains behind and begins to smell. As you can imagine, spending several weeks in the backcountry (or even just a few days in your laundry basket) compounds this problem, which leads to your outdoor apparel becoming unbearably smelly.

    Why Does Your Outdoor Gear Smell

    How Can You Prevent Your Gear From Smelling in the First Place?

    Keeping your outdoor gear completely smell-free might be a bit of an uphill battle, but there are certainly a number of steps you can take to either prevent or slow down the inevitable. Here are a few tips that you can utilize if you are trying to keep your gear smelling fresh for as long as possible:

    Buy Treated Clothing

    As most outdoor enthusiasts will be well aware of, synthetic clothing is especially prone to producing (and holding on to!) a particularly bad stench. Your best bet in slowing down the inevitable is to purchase synthetic clothing that has been exposed to some type of odour-fighting treatment, such as Polygiene.

    Alternatively, you can also try buying apparel made from natural fibers like wool, which will help to slow down the growth of bacteria. This is by no means a smoking gun as even the best merino wool will eventually start to stink, but it is something to consider if you’ve worn your way through countless pieces of synthetic gear.

    Run the Wash Immediately

    An easy habit to get into when it comes to your post-activity routine is to get the wash running as soon as you get home. It might be a bit of a nuisance at first, but the longer you leave your smelly gear in a pile on the floor, the worse the smell will be!

    Wash Your Clothes Properly

    Surely there is only one way to wash clothes, no? While you might think that keeping your outdoor gear clean and smell-free is as easy as chucking it in the washing machine and walking away, you might find that the life of your gear will be extended by simply turning articles of clothing inside out.

    Whether you are out on a hike, bike, or climb, your body will sweat and the natural oils/bacteria will be deposited on the inside of your clothing. Turning your clothes inside out will allow your washing detergent to come into direct contact with the dirtiest parts, hopefully removing the bacteria before it begins to grow (and smell!).

    Make Sure Your Washing Machine is Clean!

    Let’s face it, how many times have you honestly thought to yourself: “I should probably clean my washing machine”? The average person would probably say never, but the fact remains that, just like any other appliance, you should clean your washing machine somewhat regularly in order to prevent a buildup of dirt, mold, and bacteria that could be contributing to your smelly clothes. Check the manual that came with your washing machine to find the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations.

    How can you prevent your gear from smelling in the first place

    How to Get the Smell Out of Your Outdoor Gear

    So your outdoor gear has unfortunately taken on a funk that is out of this world, and try as you might, even the longest of wash cycles can only do so much before the stench comes back in full force. Here are a few tips that might help you to subdue the smell of your ripe outdoor gear:

    Use the Outdoors to Your Advantage

    Hanging your sweaty, smelly hiking clothes outdoors is a great way to prevent foul odours, as direct sunlight and fresh air are effective tools in combating bacteria. Leaving your gear out in the sun will expose it to powerful UV rays, which are very effective at killing bacteria and are more gentle on your gear than throwing it in the wash.

    Soak Your Gear

    Does it feel like simply washing your gear in the machine isn’t quite cutting it? Try soaking your outdoor apparel in a mixture of water and something acidic like baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, or all three before putting it in the wash. This will help to kill off plenty of the bacteria prior to letting the machine do its regular routine.

    Use Special Odour Neutralizers and Detergents

    There are so many different detergents out there that market themselves as being odour killers; however, many of these can be fairly harsh and can actually destroy the odour-fighting treatments on hiking/outdoor gear.

    Be sure to do some research in order to find the right type of detergent for your gear and read the manufacturer’s recommended wash instructions. One of our favourites is Nikwax Basewash, as it is cheap and effective at removing odours without damaging synthetic clothing.

    How to Get the Smell Out of Your Outdoor Gear

    Download the 10Adventures Trail App

    Whether your outdoor gear is brand new or has seen better days, your mind is likely focussed on your next adventure, not doing the laundry.Download the 10Adventures Trail App on iOS or Android to find the perfect trail to explore at home or around the world.




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