Monday, December 15, 2008

A Great Solution to a Smelly Problem

I had the good fortune to be working at Sugoi back in the mid to late '90's when the use of technical fabrics for cycling, running and triathlon really started to take off. Hard to believe, but just over 10 years ago many runners still wore cotton T-Shirts almost exclusively, for training and racing. Cycling was a bit ahead of where running was at the time. And truth be told, Sugoi took much of it's expertise in cycling apparel and transferred it to running and triathlon apparel.

The newer finer polyester fabrics that were starting to become available in the mid '90's were amazing - light, fine, and with impressive powers to move moisture from one side to the other - in this case from inside a garment to the outside and away from the skin. Thus, the concept of the term, "wicking" as it pertains to technical apparel of this kind.

The one down-side to these fabrics was that over time, they started to get . . . . well . . . . . . how do I put this, . . skunky, may be the best word. Musty would be another word that comes to mind. Even with regular washing and use, these garments would after a time start to smell - somtimes badly. What was happening was that oils from your skin and, organic matter (dead skin cells), were bonding with the finer strands of the polyester in the fabric. Polyester is an oil based material, so the organic matter in the body oils and skin has a natural affinity to the oil based polyester fabric and easily bonds to it. Small amounts of bacteria would also get trapped in at this level as well. The combo of the body oils, the organic matter and the bacteria would ferment and start to smell. No amount of normal washing could get rid of this smell.

At Sugoi, we looked into some fabric based solutions - silver was one thing that was tried. We received some samples from a fabric supplier that sounded promising. Silver is anti microbial. Fine silver filaments were woven through the fabric. This fabric proved promising. Six months on and after heavy use - no smell. Minor problem, though, a basic T-Shirt was going to need to retail at $100, perhaps more, based on how expensive the "silver" wonder fabric was! I still have one of these test T-shirts - seven years on it has minimal smell. However, good it was their was no way that we were going to be able to sell $100 running T-shirts.

Which leads me to Win High Performance Sport Detergent. We recently bought a bottle and used it on a load of older, technical training gear of ours - stuff that, frankly was ready to be tossed based on the built up smell. We ran the load with the Win detergent, and it took almost 100% of the smell away. It was an impressive turn-around. The Win detergent specifically targets the trapped bacteria and organic matter in the fabric with it' s scientifically formulated formula. Win's super oxygenated detergent zeros in on the bacteria and other organic matter and oxidizes it and removes it all from the fabric, and for the most part removes the odors.

I was really impressed by this as there were a few cycling jerseys that I was ready to toss out or turn into rags, but the Win detergent has regenerated them, and given them a new, much cleaner, fresher smelling and longer life.

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