Smell Sweaty After the Gym? Soon Your Clothes May Solve the Problem

Are you this guy while you workout or afterwards? Soon, science may be able to give you clothes that prevent you from smelling “not so fresh.” Or even downright gross.

Of course, it’s not just exercise that does it. Hot summer weather, stressful situations, yard work or a tough day on the job can leave you stinking the place up as well.

But what if your clothes could cover up the stink with a lovely lemon fragrance? Well, science may have just found a way to do just that!

In the current issue of ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, researchers from the American Chemical Society claim to have found the answer to sweat stink.

In recent years, scientists have developed smart fabrics that react to stimuli such as light, temperature or mechanical stress and respond in certain ways, such as by changing color or conducting an electrical signal. Researchers have also explored different methods to release fragrances from fabrics. Carla Silva, Artur Cavaco-Paulo and colleagues wanted to develop and compare two new strategies for releasing a fragrance — β-citronellol, a lemongrass-derived scent used in some insect repellants — from cotton fabric in response to sweat.

The first approach involved an odorant-binding protein (OBP) found in pigs’ noses that binds to β-citronellol and other scent molecules. To the OBP, the researchers attached a protein domain, called a carbohydrate-binding module (CBM), that binds to cotton.


In their second strategy, the researchers packaged the fragrance in liposomes that displayed CBMs, which anchored the lipid carriers and their cargo to the fabric. The team exposed the modified cotton fabrics to an acidic sweat solution, and the low pH of the simulated perspiration caused the OBP and liposomes to release β-citronellol.

Comparing the two strategies revealed that the OBP released a quick burst of scent, while the liposomes showed a slower, controlled release. The liposomes could also hold more fragrance than the other approach. The two strategies could prove useful for different clothing applications, the researchers say.

So go ahead. Sweat it up and then go stand next to your boss, or your sweetheart. Let the wafting smell of lemongrass keep you from the sweat stink doghouse!

Keep the faith and keep after it!

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Journal Reference – Filipa Gonçalves, Artur Ribeiro, Carla Silva, Artur Cavaco-Paulo. Release of Fragrances from Cotton Functionalized with Carbohydrate-Binding Module Proteins. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2019

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