Is pleasant-smelling, anti-sweat clothing in our future?
Could your workout gear actually leave you smelling better after an intense workout? This is what a group of Portuguese researchers have set out to create when they developed textiles infused with a fragrance that would mask the smell of sweat.
The smelly, wet gear in the bottom of your gym bag, your shirt upon biking to work on a hot summer day: what if those sticky, sweaty garments left you feeling fresh and confident? What if you could ditch your deodorant in favour of clothing that masks odours as your sweat?
This is the idea that researchers at the University of Minho in Portugal set out to test. Their work was supported by the Portuguese national funding agency for science, research and technology along with the European Regional Development Fund. The research, which was published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, involved modifying textile samples so as to create clothing that reacts to sweat by churning out a pleasant smell.
The scientists carried out two distinct experiments. The first involved a protein found in pigs' snouts, which binds with the citronella molecules as well as other scent molecules. The researchers then also attached a carbohydrate-binding module to the protein, helping it bind to cotton.
For their second trial, the researchers trapped the perfume in liposomes (artificial organs made from lipids) in order to saturate the fabric with the pleasant smell. The team then exposed the modified fabric sample to acidic sweat. The low pH of the simulated perspiration set in motion the release of the citronella fragrance by both the OBP and liposomes.
"Both strategies revealed high potential," the research paper claims. "Functional textiles incorporating fragrances could be an effective clothing deodorising product."
The two strategies, however, diffuse odours in different ways: the pig nose protein method releases a "quick burst of scent," while the liposomes-treated fabric capture odours for a slower, more controlled release.