It’s not exactly a secret that yoga pants, like all athletic wear, get very funky, very fast.
That august business publication, Wall Street Journal, just came right out and said it: “These garments have synthetic fabric that quickly wicks away sweat, making it comfortable to wear during a workout and then to lunch and maybe even dinner,” author Ellen Bryon notes. “But, the fabric also makes it difficult to keep them from stinking.”
Will this uncomfortable fact do anything to halt the relentless march of athleisure? Of course not! Instead, the race is on to make some extra money from the fact that, again, your yoga pants are rank.
There are the athleisure peddlers who’ve wrapped workout stench into their very pitch, promising that their product is different.
Some say the right fabric can solve the smell problem. Athleta, owned by Gap Inc., developed what it calls “Unstinkable,” an anti-odor fabric technology that promises to keep clothing smelling good enough for multiple workouts.
And there are the detergent companies. For instance:
“There’s this perception that because it’s dry it’s also clean, and it’s not,” says Gwen Whiting, co-founder of the Laundress Inc., a cleaning-product maker and retailer. “The sweat is still there, and you really need a deeper clean to remove that bacteria, your odor causer.”
Perhaps you’ve seen that commercial for the “Tide and Downy Odor Defense collection,” which explicitly targets women worried their pants are rank? P&G also suggests that how people use high-efficiency washers are contributing to the problem; said one P&G scientist, “They let laundry sit there for longer, then the odors settle in and permeate through the whole laundry basket.” Whirlpool says that, mm, actually, it’s the detergents.
Whirlpool says odors stick around because people put in too much detergent. “Too much can build up in the garment, reduce wicking capabilities and also leave residue,” says Mary Zeitler, a global lead consumer scientist at Whirlpool. “That can then start a cycle of odors.” To compensate, Whirlpool has increasingly added automated dosing features to its machines.
LG Electronics has also introduced the SideKick, an “ add-on, small washing machine that sits under a large front-loading washing machine,” because apparently people have more money than they know what to do with, and it explicitly offers an “active wear” setting. “People want to wear their favorite yoga pants on Tuesday and again on Thursday,” marketing VP David VanderWaal told the Journal.
Bless this mess.