Friday, November 7, 2008
Stinky bike clothes
OK, I'm going out on a limb here to discuss something that I'm sure many of you have had to deal with as well, but it's not likely to be the subject of dinner conversation.
In my attempt to be more "green", I have been trying to make sure I only do loads of wash that are full and to use less hot water.
As a result, over the past year or two, I've noticed my bike clothes are more stinky than they used to be. Hmmmm, this is not a good trade-off for being a good steward to the environment!
I've picked up some new classes recently and teach 4 classes in a row, T, W, Th, F, and if for some reason this batch of clothes misses the rotation, say I did a big load on Monday, then they sit longer before making it into the wash.
Peee-u! I sit on my Spin bike and notice a faint not-so-pleasant smell, even before I start to sweat. This is because that stinky smell that results from wet sweaty clothes being all balled-up doesn't easily get washed out (especially in cold water). I think the items that stink the most are my jog-bras (ladies, am I not alone on this??).
Also, since I am personal training much less than I used to, I have less of that lycra to add to the mix.
Those of you with larger households, you probably do more wash than we do. Here, it's just me and my husband, and this summer, he hasn't been Spinning or riding as much due to his schedule. This is changing as we move into winter (he's a general contractor), so I'll have his bike clothes to add to the pile, allowing me to wash these loads more often. But here are some of the things I'm doing differently:
I used to always wash bike clothes and other lycra or polypropelene products together, so that pile had to wait until it got big enough to warrant its own load (increasing its stinkiness). If I rode or spun (spinned?) or skied a lot that week, it didn't take much time to grow the pile, but if I didn't, it could be a week or more. Nowadays, what the heck, unless the lycra pile is large due to an active family weekend, those bike shorts get thrown in with the jeans. It hasn't hurt them since I've been doing this! Right?
I used to only wash lycra in cold water. There are three reasons for this: because the label says so, because it supposedly extends the wear, and because it's more "green". But now, not being smelly trumps a few extra months or years of wear or a lower electric bill. Now they probably get washed in cold water only 50% of the time (except the jog bras, which are more like 0% now).
I used to only hang dry my lycra/polypro (for the same 3 reasons above). Now, I probably hang them 50-75% of the time. The dryer doesn't seem to hurt them (yet), and it kills some of the bacteria, so an occasional hot spin seems to partially amend the smelliness. Right? Or am I wrong and that makes them smell more?
One thing I'm trying to get better at is when I get home from Spin class, lay the sweaty wet clothes on the top of the hamper so they dry out. If I'm in a hurry, sometimes they'll sit in my gym bag all balled-up for a day or two or over the weekend (Jennifer, that's pretty gross)! One club I work at has plastic bags for wet clothes, and there are times I'll forget to take them out of the bag and they'll sit in there for 3-4 days until the next load of wash. Yuck. These items needs to go through two hot loads in a row, and that's certainly not very green, and my conscience suffers as a result.
I'd love to get some comments from all you guys as to how you combat this olfactory problem, especially with ways to balance being more green and protecting our resources with not being smelly. Smelly is not good. Are there products you have found that help? Have you found the life of your bike clothes is reduced from using warm water or putting them in the dryer, or is that not an issue to you? Do you only wash in cold water and live with a musty smell? Or do you not sweat and wonder what I'm talking about??