five in the stink
April 17, 2017 9:45 PM   Subscribe

my husband bikes to work and back every day, and wears thermal bike gloves to keep his hands warm. They reeeeeek like the scent of 40 hockey bags, even though he washes them quite often. How can he wear gloves without being "ole stench mitts" at home and in the office?
posted by andreapandrea to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do they smell better after a wash? If not, consider washing in vinegar, and maybe buying more than one pair of gloves.
posted by Toddles at 9:47 PM on April 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

He should own at least two pairs, so that one pair has 24 hours to completely dry after use. If he wears the same ones daily, they probably don't get adequate drying time (even if he washes them frequently, wearing them two or more days in a row can cause them to get mildewy pretty fast).

I also agree with Toddles about the power of a good vinegar wash. And let them dry in the sunlight, whenever possible.

Where does he store them when not in use? Some of my cyclist friends will hang them from indoor drying lines so they can get sufficient air flow. Couldn't hurt.
posted by nightrecordings at 10:04 PM on April 17, 2017 [10 favorites]

Wash with the right detergent, Tide Sport or something similar (detergents marketed as eco friendly will always leave you stinking). It could also be the material -- some are notoriously stinky (I'm looking at you Patagonia capilene). Try different brands. Consider switching to merino wool gloves or glove liners: no stink, ever.
posted by halogen at 10:05 PM on April 17, 2017

Handi-perspirant?! I use this Arm & Hammer spray powder on parts of me that I know will get sweaty but probably don't need to be wiped with my deode. Just today I sprayed my feet before a long day of business travel (I always wanted to say that, I feel so fancy) and A++ would powder again.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 10:10 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

If vinegar fails, a hydrogen peroxide solution usually kills any bacterial/organic odor. Or soak them overnight in liquid fabric softener.

(Peroxide might also discolor them, but I am guessing he won't care about that.)
posted by rokusan at 10:11 PM on April 17, 2017

Get pogies for his handlebars?
posted by fshgrl at 11:36 PM on April 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, pogies.
posted by kerf at 11:37 PM on April 17, 2017

Two pairs. Spritz airing out pair with Vinegar in a spray bottle. Wash with detergent and Borax powder periodically.

I understand hockey gear smell. And expedition level hiking boot smell. This will work. On new pairs, only. Toss the current pair because that one is a step away from being on the level of toxic nuclear waste.
posted by jbenben at 11:41 PM on April 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Also does he have unusually sweaty hands? Or does he just have overly-warm gloves? Does he have a place to stash the gloves as he warms up? Is he stashing the gloves in the pocket of his cycling jersey and they're getting all back-sweaty? How did the gloves get so gross, basically? I don't think stinky gloves are inevitable for most people.
posted by mskyle at 3:36 AM on April 18, 2017

I've had helmets that smell like death itself, and the only thing that takes care of it is drying it in the sun.

Try that with the gloves - wash 'em (vinegar is a good tip), and dry them in the sun.
posted by entropone at 4:50 AM on April 18, 2017

Might be worthwhile replacing the handle bar tape/grips. I know my mitts stink when the tape is quite old
posted by fatfrank at 4:59 AM on April 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Chuck the old pair. Buy two or three new pairs which he uses in rotation. Borax or oxyclean in the wash (either work far better than vinegar).

Changing his bar tape/grips is a good idea. It's probably manky too.
posted by bonehead at 5:27 AM on April 18, 2017

Soak in vinegar water (or other alternatives listed here). Sport odors on clothes come from bacteria. You need to disinfect them.
posted by teabag at 5:29 AM on April 18, 2017

A friend swears by Nature's Miracle Laundry Boost (yep, the pet stuff) for her pre-teen son's sports gear, which he wears all the time. She learned of it on line after some guy tested a bunch of laundry boosters for his own gear.
posted by JawnBigboote at 5:53 AM on April 18, 2017

If they're they neoprene ones I used to have, the only cure is getting different ones. Those ones smelled of death.
posted by scruss at 5:58 AM on April 18, 2017

(I rescued neoprene kayaking gloves by soaking them in vinegar for so long that the problem became not them smelling of rotting pond scum, but of vinegar. Then there was a lot of washing and airing out, but they went from corpse reek to clean-smelling. I was surprised by how durable neoprene can be -- I left them in straight vinegar for over a week.)
posted by kmennie at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2017

Consider changing gloves entirely. Synthetics can, for some folks, harbor stink more or less permanently, and smell worse than wool-based fabrics even for folks who don't have that body chemistry.

I don't wear long fingered gloves to ride except in the very coldest conditions, but I've definitely found that gloves with less Modern Miracle Materials in them stink less.
posted by uberchet at 9:50 AM on April 18, 2017

Nthing products that break down enzymes (Nature's Miracle, Oxyclean) and then some time in bright sun. You might need to do a few rounds.

FWIW, I have 3 pairs of gloves that I use in different seasons: fingerless gloves for spring/fall, thin gore-tex gloves for colder weather (with optional glove liners), and lobster mitts for serious winter. Ideally he would have a lineup like this for different seasons to avoid the sweat issue at least somewhat. If I'm sweating into my gloves, it's always because I wore the wrong pair.
posted by veery at 10:18 AM on April 18, 2017

Enzyme cleaner for neoprene and synthetics. Either Sink the Stink or Mirazyme (less expensive). Soak for 5-10 minutes, wring out (do not rinse) and allow to air dry. I’ve used both; the Sink the Stink was a lifesaver with wetsuits, and the Mirazyme killed the persistent funky smell that we thought was permanent in our Gore-tex gear.

Sink the Stink is amazing… it obliterates the B.O. quality that vinegar can’t completely eliminate, with the bonus of a neutral odor. (Best to have multiple pairs of gloves to rotate out while another pair is drying.)
posted by ohcanireally at 10:25 AM on April 18, 2017

The problem with vinegar is that it's just a solvent and you're fighting the attraction of the stink molecules to the glove fabric to the ability of the acetate/water solvent to dissolve those molecules. It sort of works, but you're always going to be fighting what the molecules want to do. So you have to go to extreme lengths, very long times, to get an effective result.

The enzyme cleaners are somewhat like a bleach. They're not trying to pull the stick molecules off the glove fabric they like so much, the enzymes cut the stink molecules into smaller ones and cause them to stop smelling entirely.

So vinegar tends to reduce the stink over time slowly, while the enzymatic cleaners tend to eliminate it.
posted by bonehead at 10:44 AM on April 18, 2017

Second'ing having a second pair so they can fully dry. Gloves that stay even the tiniest bit damp inside grow all kinds of things. And that's the main lesson of stinky sports gear: there's nothing wrong with sweat oils, salts, etc. and there's nothing wrong with bacteria; it's leaving those things alone to do their business that causes the stink. Arrest bacterial growth as often as possible (let them fully dry, etc.), wash frequently, wash in something that cleans well.

Oxidizers like bleach, etc., tend to work well if you catch the stink early enough. I have bicycling friends who are happy with the various enzymatic products out there (again, best if you catch the gloves before they get really bad).

Note that vinegar (acetic acid) slowly softens and destroys rubber seals and some plastics; best to keep it out of modern washing machines and stick to hand-washing if you go the vinegar route.
posted by introp at 11:09 AM on April 18, 2017

I have a PEET Dryer for boots; it basically gently blows warm air into your boots to get them dry overnight and ready to wear again. I know they make attachments for gloves. You could try those in addition to circulating wear with multiple pairs to really make sure they get dry. I would guess that this would be more effective for keeping non-stinky gloves non-stinky (once you get new ones), not de-stinking already stinky gloves.
posted by spelunkingplato at 7:13 PM on April 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I wear synthetic gloves for biking. As the others suggest, you should have more than one pair in rotation. After each ride, I let them dry fully before packing them away. I live in a humid climate and they grow mold if I am lax about this.

When they start to reek, I hand wash and dry them in the sun.

For the stink, you can try baking soda (I put this in shoes in muslin bags), febreeze and wiping them with alcohol/vodka. Also, try adding essential oils like lavender, lemon, tea tree, peppermint or eucalyptus when you wash them.
posted by whitelotus at 1:05 AM on April 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding the idea of a boot dryer. There are two daily-cyclists in the Corpse household, and our boot dryer does the job. You don't need special glove attachments, just cram them on the posts. Helmets even go on it once in a while.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:06 PM on April 26, 2017

Late addition: based on this thread's recommendations above, I tried out some Mirazyme on my really old spare (stinnnnky) pair of bike gloves. And, wow, does that stuff work! Rinse off the big dirt, dissolve a tiny amount of Mirazyme in a small bucket of water, soak gloves for ten minutes, lightly squeeze out and hang dry. They smell like new. It worked so well I tried it on my summer gloves and my bar tape and I'm just as impressed with the results.
posted by introp at 6:42 PM on October 31, 2017

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