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Man wearing Rhone shirt on the golf course


The Science of Smelling Good

Odor-fighting fabric is the latest innovation in hard-working clothing.

The Science of Smelling Good

When you approach the practice tee, you want the other golfers in your league to scatter because you’ve been taking their money on the course not because they can smell you coming from a 7-iron away. Even if you wash your gear between wearings the stench of weekly drenchings in sweat can build up over time, leading to clean clothes that still smell. That’s when it’s time to look for the silver lining, literally.

The Odor-Fighting Properties of Silver

“Silver has been used for centuries to prevent odor build-up,” says Ben Checketts, the Vice President of Brand for Rhone, an apparel company that uses silver in its products. But it takes more than simply treating fabric with silver particles, which is clear to those who understand the science of stank.

Sweat itself doesn’t smell. But when damp cloth lays against hot skin, especially in those dark warm places (looking at you armpits and crotch), it creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which feeds off the skin’s fatty acids. And those bacteria create body odor. Over time, enough bacteria can build up that even washing won’t get rid of it. Silver prevents the bacteria from growing and multiplying by disrupting it at the molecular level.

Battling Bacteria Build-Up

To fight that build-up, Rhone integrates silver into its garments in two ways. Some of the company’s gear features its proprietary technology called SilverTech, which weaves threads of silver into the yarn, so it kills bacteria and becomes a permanent part of the fabric.

Other items, including the Delta Pique Polo and Torrent Pant, use the company’s GoldFusion technology, which embeds silver and gold particles into the fabric — the silver fights the bacteria and the gold bonds the silver to the fabric so that, “it adheres for the life of the product,” according to Checketts.

The bonding is important because if silver particles are applied to a fabric without some special bonding measures, those particles will come out when you sweat and in the wash, which can damage your health and the environment. So not only will your expensive workout gear no longer prevent you from stinking, but you could be making yourself and the planet sick.

Now that would stink.