Anti-Odor Workout Apparel: Does It Actually Work and Is It Safe?

Do you ever find yourself avoiding others during and after your workout because you are concerned about your overwhelming body odor? It does not matter if you showered and used anti-perspirant and deodorant prior to your workout–sometimes body odor is just a natural result of exercising. For those who are conscious of their body odor and concerned about how it may be affecting others, there has been a wide range of anti-odor workout apparel developed. But does it actually work? And more importantly, is it actually safe?

About Anti-Odor Workout Apparel

In order to better understand the purpose behind anti-odor workout apparel, one must first understand the cause of body odor. Body odor comes from the bacteria in your skin feeding on your sweat. Sweat itself is a naturally odor-free substance, but it is when the bacteria rises to feed on it that one notices unpleasant odors. It follows, then, that if an individual can prevent bacteria, fungi, mold and mildew from forming on their clothes, they should be able to keep their clothes odor-free. This does not automatically mean that the individual himself will be entirely odor-free, because the sweat and bacteria process can still occur on their skin–especially in their armpits–but it can help markedly if the sweat and bacteria is not being soaked into the fabric they are wearing. However, whatever is used to prevent this from occurring is only worthwhile if it doesn’t introduce new contaminants to the individual’s skin and body.

Manufacturers of anti-odor workout apparel normally apply several different types of treatments to synthetic fabrics in an effort to deter bacteria. Some of the most commonly-used treatments are silver-based compounds along with the triclosan or triclocarban chemicals, while others include zinc or quaternary ammonium compounds. Considering that these substances are toxic to bacteria, it is normal for an individual to wonder if they are also toxic to humans.

Research has indicated that triclosan and triclocarban is a suspected endocrine disruptor, fatal to aquatic creatures and a key reason behind the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It’s safe to say that an individual would do well to stay away from these substances. Research has also indicated that when silver is used to treat fabrics it is done in the form of nanoparticles which are embedded in the cloth. A Swiss study performed in 2013 indicated that these nanoparticles migrated from treated fabrics into artificial sweat, and an MIT study performed in 2014 indicated that these nanoparticles can damage cell DNA.

While it hasn’t been made perfectly clear if this new fitness techonology can adversely affect an individual’s health, the more important concern is whether they are even worth the risk. Many individuals who have worn these items have indicated that the treated fabrics work minimally, if at all, in helping to reduce body odor during workouts. Perhaps it is best to simply plan for bathing and changing clothes immediately after a workout in order to eliminate unwanted odors.

Erica D'Arcangelo is an Internet Marketing Expert and co-owner of Fresh, Healthy & Fit where she is a regular contributor. Erica has been active in the health and fitness industry through spinning, yoga, HITT training and much more over the last decade. She's a fitness enthusiast and has also helped others with healthy living through her own blog.