This is a “Sweat Clean Only” garment

I know it’s embarrassing, and no one wants to admit it, but I wear deodorant for a reason.  The reason being that I sweat.  I know girls are supposed to sweat strawberry juice that evaporates into lemon drops, but guess what?  I sweat sweat that smells like sweat.

Boom.  It’s out there.  Of course, I can temper the sweating and neutralize the odor with my deodorant – natural or otherwise.  Do I smell on a daily basis?  No.  So where am I going with all this?

“Just once, I would like to hear a dry cleaner admit that something was their fault.  That’s what I want.”

Well, funny story.  When you make the switch to homemade deodorant with no antiperspirant qualities, you quickly find that laundering becomes imperative after every. single. wearing.  If you sweat in it, wash it.  Go ahead – give me your excuses.  Tell me you only wore that top for an hour at church.  Tell me your pits still smelled fresh when you took it off. Tell me the shirt only had the tiniest sweat spots and no odor.

Give it time.  Leave that blouse un-washed for another future wear, and by the time you come back to it – whether it’s one day or one week later – it will have accumulated a stench of epic proportions.  Fresh sweat doesn’t smell (when treated with a good deodorizer), but you do not want to deal with stale, set-in sweat smells.  That is one offensive odor that could blow a sea cow right out of the water.

So consider my new arch-nemesis: Dry Clean Only.  Remember – there are certain garments you cannot simply wash, no matter how much you sweat in them.  Plus, to make matters worse, I have read that dry cleaning can cause certain stains and scents to become set in your clothing, never to be removed again.  Houston: We have a problem.

With my DCO items, I sweat, it sits, and I’m left with a $50-$100 un-wearable garment with a scent that could knock you out cold on your feet.  But if Mother Nature has taught me anything, it’s that there is a natural remedy for everything, as long as you have the stamina for 4 straight hours of internet research.

First I tried baking soda on the sweated pits and met with only marginal success.  Said “un-wearable garment” was stinking up my closet again in no time.  And then I read about the antibacterial properties of hydrogen peroxide and lavender essential oil.  And then I remembered that bacteria supposedly cause sweat smell.  And then I grabbed a cotton ball.

Hydrogen peroxide can have bleaching properties, so I tested a small part of my garment first.  That was rather uneventful, so I turned the garment inside-out and dabbed hydrogen peroxide all over the pits (but not heavily enough for it to soak through to the outside).  I let that dry then repeated.  Then I took a Q-tip’s worth of lavender EO and dabbed that on the pits.  Then I hung the garment outside for a few hours.  Then I demanded that my parents smell the pits of all my DCO items, at which time they gave a favorable review but began wondering aloud if I was actually going to go through this every time.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I responded.  “I’m going to fashion myself some real nice sweat-catcher pads to use in these dry-clean-only items.”

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8 thoughts on “This is a “Sweat Clean Only” garment

  1. With all due respect, why is your sweat the dry cleaner’s fault? Do you blame the mechanic for problems your car develops? Do you blame the Doctor for your catching a cold?

    Sweat is a water soluble stain, meaning sweat can be removed with water. Dry cleaning is a process that does not contain water, or a very little CONTROLLED amount of water, therefore a water soluble stain isn’t likely to be removed in the cleaning process. Dry cleaners remove water soluble stains manually at a workstation/piece of equipment known as a ‘spotting board’. The spotting board contains a steam gun, a vacuum, and a range of chemicals that break down water soluble, protein and tannin based stains. If there is a perspiration (sweat) stain ring visible, a dry cleaner will remove that ring with either the steam gun, and a little neutral lubricant (ph balanced detergent), then another flush with the steam (condensing into water) to flush out the ring, and then feather the area dry by blowing air from a compressed air source so as not to leave a water ring.

    Again, there is CONTROLLED amounts of water/moisture at work. Perhaps not enough water to completely flush out the stain and perspiration. But, this is where we separate bad dry cleaners from good dry cleaners, and great dry cleaners from good dry cleaners. A good dry cleaner would have noticed the odor while he removed the perspiration, or the presser would have noticed the odor during pressing and passed the garment back to the cleaner/stain remover (also known as the ‘spotter’) to remove the perspiration residue.

    A great cleaner would have staff that not only caught the residue, but removed it as well using a process known as ‘Wet Cleaning’. Wet Cleaning is a cleaning process using water. Its not WASHING,but it is similar to washing only because water is involved. Wet Cleaning is a cleaning process that uses water as a cleaning agent, but all detergents used are strictly controlled and properly neutralized, mechanical action such as scrubbing and tumbling is heavily controlled, drying temperatures are very tightly controlled as is agitation during drying. A great dry cleaner is an expert at using many different kinds of solvents to remove stains and odors, and wet cleaning is a lost art that very ut excellent dry cleaners know how to do.

    Wet cleaning would remove the perspiration, but it takes more time, is very labor intensive, and therefor is likely to cost more.

    Wet cleaning is not for every garment. Certain dyes used in manufacture of your garments could be water soluable and bleed during the process, and some fabrics do NOT hold up well to water (like cellulose fibers such as Rayon) and may even fall apart or shrink horribly in water. This is where advanced knowledge of dyes, fabrics and good dry cleaning practices comes in. Again, not every dry cleaner has such knowledge or experience (but it can be learned from instruction courses offered to professional dry cleaners that want to learn or expand their knowledge via http://www.ifi.org and http://www.nca-i.com).

    So, much depends on the garment itself, the stain or staining agent that was deposited on the garment, and even the skill of the person cleaning the garment. I would recommend that you take your garments that still have perspiration residue and odor on them back to the dry cleaner and discuss this matter with them. Ask about the cleaner ‘wet cleaning’ the garments. If the dry cleaner draws a blank and looks at you like you have five eyes, I’d seriously consider advising the dry cleaner to take the IFI or NCA-I mail order or Internet based training courses, or at worst case, finding a more experienced/knowledgeable dry cleaner in your area. Look for an Award of Excellence’ dry cleaner as these dry cleaners have been tested and inspected to meet high, strict knowledge and performance standards

    So, I hope you understand that some of this issue is your fault (you stained the garment – which I know is unavoidable, but it is the fact), and some of this is the cleaners issue for not doing a complete job of using the full and appropriate cleaning processes to remove the stain.

  2. Oh, I just noticed that you used hydrogen peroxide on your garments AFTER they had been dry cleaned. As you properly pointed out, Hydrogen Peroxide is a BLEACHING agent. If you DO NOT neutralize or remove that bleaching agent, your garment’s dyes are highly likely to be adversely affected. On colored garments, you may develop areas under your arms that are now discolored due to the bleaching agent remaining in the fabric. When you wear a bleached garment, the moisture from your perspiration and your body heat may reactivate the bleach and again damage the dye in your garments. While garments will turn yellow reacting to the bleach. YOU MUST BE SURE TO REMOVE OR NEUTRALIZE ALL BLEACHES YOU’VE APPLIED to your garments.

    And as for the lavender, that is only masking (covering up) the odor.

    While you report no visible adverse effects right now, bleach can, in time, become activated and ruin the dyes in your garments. Damage from your home remedies may become apparent after dry cleaning, so again, please keep in mind that the damage may have been caused by you either in wear, or from your own efforts, NOT from the dry cleaner. The responsible party that caused the damage should be the one to take the blame, so please keep an open mind that the dry cleaner is providing a service, and may very well be like a mechanic or a doctor- the one who identifies or reveals problems, and may not be the one who caused it.

    • I really didn’t mean to blame the dry cleaner. As a matter of fact, I haven’t taken any of my clothes with set-in odors to a dry cleaner yet to remove the smells (I had read that heat cleaning could set the smells into the garments permanently, and I really didn’t want to risk that). To be honest, I take full responsibility for the offensive odors in my dry clean only clothes – it’s embarrassing, but stale sweat smells have become a fact of life in my new, all-natural lifestyle. Like I said in my post – if I can’t wash it, I sweat and it sits and it starts to smell. Once I have the odors under control, I do plan to take my DCO clothes to a dry cleaner regularly. So I hope you don’t think that I meant to throw dry cleaners under the bus – that really wasn’t my intention at all! (Perhaps the caption was a poor choice, but it was just a funny Seinfeld quote that I liked!)

      Also – thanks for the tips on the hydrogen peroxide. I had no idea it might reactivate at a later date…that would not be good! I’ll have to look into some ways to neutralize/remove it from the pits of my DCO clothes! Thanks for reading – I hope the misunderstanding didn’t turn you off from my blog completely!!

      • I should mention, in some commercial deodorants, there is a chemical called Aluminum Trichloride. AT is supposed to be absorbed by your skin and stop perspiration. But, it can also transfer to your clothing and build up. Over time, AT will turn white cloth yellow, and cause colored clothes to fade or discolor. Regular (proper) cleaning should remove odor as well as other things. Key word is proper cleaning, because I know there are some cleaners out there that don;t always make the grade.

        Nope, you haven’t turned me off your blog at all. Thank you for allowing me to be a guest and comment. Greatly appreciated!

      • Sweat is made up of Oil, water, some sugar, salt, and a mild acid. Oil, when it ages, it oxidizes, or yellows. As an example, take an apple and cut it in half. Notice how in a few hours, some of the apples edges turn yellow, then brown? That is sugars oxidizing like oils do.

        If you are not removing all the oil, acid and sugar from perspiration that your garment absorbed from your body, that could account for some of the yellowing.

        And yes, the deodorant could account for some as well, because again, if it is not removed from the fabric or neutralized, it too can cause staining.

        Anything that a garment can soak up that is not neutralized or removed can cause staining. Its not likely that we are going to buy clothes and never wear them, so every time we wear a garment, we are likely staining it, or causing some wear somewhere. Cleaning should flush away stains, but it also flushes away broken and damaged fiber, which accounts for why we sometimes notice wear after cleaning. NOT cleaning a garment only leaves dirt and soils in the garment, hastening it wear and tear (like pouring fine sand into your auto’s motor and never changing oil.)

        Who knew cleaning clothes was so much science? 🙂 At least its simple science.

  3. Didn’t get the feeling the Maid was blaming the dry cleaner – she hadn’t even taken her clothes to the dry cleaner!!! If you were referring to the picture caption – think that was straight from a Seinfeld episode.

    Forge ahead dear Maid.

  4. WOW…sounds like Darcy really knows her dry cleaning but a little TMI for me! My advice would be to lighten up, don’t think anybody thought MNM was dissing dry cleaners.

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