What is Anti-Odor Technology? Your Guide to the Best Anti-Odor Fabrics

Anti-odor technology and fabrics are everywhere — workout clothes, performance dress shirts and sweat proof undershirts.

But does anti-odor technology work? How does it work? Are anti-odor clothes harmful to your health?

Today we’re tackling everything B.O. and clothing. We’ll break down exactly what anti-odor technology is, including the best anti-odor fabrics to help you stay fresh and confident.

What is Anti-Odor Technology?

To start, let’s clarify a few terms.

Sweat isn’t the culprit of B.O. — body odor occurs when sweat reacts with bacteria that live on your skin.

Anti-odor technology is easily confused with moisture-wicking, especially when you’re talking about athletic or workout clothes.

Moisture-wicking fabrics push moisture away from the body. They’re made of polyester, which doesn’t absorb as much water than cotton. They’re designed to help you cool down, not control odor.

Anti-odor technology captures and blocks or kills odor-causing bacteria that comes from your body. It neutralizes the bacteria before it interacts with sweat, reducing the amount of body odor. When bacteria can't mix with the moisture from your sweat, odors vanish.

There are many different factors to consider when choosing anti-odor clothing, including efficacy and safety.

The most popular anti-odor options include chemically treated antimicrobial fabrics, fabric woven or treated with silver and volcanic ash treated fabrics.

Many different technologies exist, but the goal is the same: prevent the body's bacteria from mixing with sweat to prevent odor.

The Best Anti-Odor Technology

Let’s take a look at each of the different types to see how they compare.

Antimicrobial Fabrics

Antimicrobial fabrics kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria. There are two main types of technology utilized to create odor blocking materials:

  • Antimicrobial chemicals: Triclosan and triclocarban are the two main antimicrobial chemicals used in the treatment of clothing. They weaken the cell membrane of bacteria, causing them to die.
  • Silver technology: Silver is naturally antimicrobial. When it oxidizes, it releases silver ions that are lethal to bacteria. Silver is used as a treatment on clothing and is also incorporated into fibers and then woven into the material.

Silver is most commonly found in workout wear, although some t-shirts, leggings and socks have incorporated it into their fabric.

But how do they hold up to testing?

Chemically-treated fabrics and silver thread clothing are effective at keeping odors at bay during the first uses, but tests show that they lose efficacy after being washed. One study showed that within ten washes, more than half of the antimicrobial properties of the clothing had washed away.

However, manufacturers suggest that odor blocking fabric doesn’t need to be washed as frequently, which may help to minimize the problem.

There are also questions about the safety of these chemicals.

One study showed that triclosan disrupts the endocrine system. It was removed from soap by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a result.Doctors are also concerned that antimicrobial clothing may contribute to breaking down the body’s microbiome, a type of “good” bacteria that keep us healthy.

Additionally, when these chemicals and compounds wash out of your clothing, they contaminate the water supply and jeopardize marine life.

In summary? Silver antimicrobial clothing is effective at controlling odor, but the side effects and longevity may not be worth it.

Zeolites

Zeolites are volcanic ash that has mixed with alkaline water.

Mineral-based zeolites capture and break down odor molecules and release them in the wash. Since materials enhanced with zeolites degrade odors, they require less laundering than standard clothing.

Zeolites are relatively unproven technology. There is no significant scientific testing for this technology available. However, field tests show that it’s effective in keeping odors at bay. Additional testing is needed to determine if this technology is safe for use, but it seems promising.

Hydrogen Peroxide-Treated Clothing

Hydrogen peroxide has a long history of use as a disinfectant because of its nontoxic ability to kill bacteria. It exposes bacteria to oxygen (called oxidation). Since the bacteria are anaerobic and can't live in a high-oxygen environment, they die.

Hydrogen peroxide's efficacy in disinfecting hospitals is well documented inresearch studies. It also has many documented household uses--including in the removal of yellow armpit stains and as a natural deodorant (but not an antiperspirant!)

Hydrogen peroxide is a nontoxic bacteria killing powerhouse. But what if this combination of water and oxygen molecules could help create a safe, odor resistant fabric? By treating clothing with hydrogen peroxide, the fibers can prevent odor as effectively as other methods.

When combined with other technologies that promote breathability, the result is a breathable, odor blocking fabric that will keep you smelling and feeling fresh throughout the sweatiest of days.

Prevent Odor by Stopping Sweat

The first step to controlling odor is managing your sweat. Thompson Tee’s premium sweat proof undershirt traps sweat and releases it as vapor — so you don’t have to worry about sweat marks.

Try a Thompson Tee risk-free today.

Lawrence Hunt

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