Sweating up the Dry-Clean-Only
August 9, 2006 6:20 AM Subscribe
Sweat-a-filter: Dry cleaning isn't working! How can I permanently remove body odor from dry-clean-only clothes?
I live in a very humid, hot climate. Cruelly, I also live in a place where I and most others are required to wear business suits to work every day, including on days when it's like a sauna outside. I'm naturally a very sweaty person, which is embarassing for me all summer long, but it's especially bad when I have to look and feel presentable for a business meeting and instead I end up drenched in sweat. My sweat, naturally, smells like sweat, and I'm constantly paranoid that I smell bad. Now I'm afraid that my clothes are making me stink.
After living here a while, I'm now finding that suits I've owned for more than a year (and thus sweated into many, many times) smell like body odor even when they're clean. They're all dry-clean-only, but dry cleaning only removes the smell temporarily. The first time I wear an old suit, by the end of the day, it smells like I haven't cleaned it in weeks. Most of the suits in question are cotton or wool with either natural fabric or nylon lining, and it's mostly the lining that smells like BO, although I'm paranoid that I can be smelled from a distance because the stink is strong.
I've tried switching dry cleaners a few times. I've tried Dryel and other "freshening" products for dry-clean-only clothes, but that appears to just mask the smell for a few hours, after which the stench returns. The smell is concentrated mostly in the armpits and the crotch area, where I sweat the most. I have a few really expensive suits, so I don't want to have to throw them away after a year of wearing them, but I'm embarassed to smell like I haven't showered all summer long. I'm spending a fortune dry cleaning after each wearing, and still, my clothes smell like BO.
I never have this problem with any of my washable clothes, including ones made of synthetic fabric. Washing in the machine with detergent seems to remove any traces of sweat or odor. Even the dress shirts that I wear under the suits come out clean, despite the fact that they're absorbing more of my sweat than the suits are. I can't wash my suits with water and detergent, can I? Can I give some special instruction to my dry cleaner (I've been embarassed to say "my clothes smell like BO" and ask them what to do about it, but is there some specific treatment I could ask for)? Is there a magic laundry tool that I can pretreat suits with before having them cleaned to remove the smell? Is there at least some way I can prevent new suits from becoming funkified?