The Science Behind Stink: One Woman Asked Why?

The Science Behind Stink: One Woman Asked Why?

Welcome to summer! More specifically, Summer in Texas. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s downright miserable some days. With heat indexes reaching 110, it’s not hard to imagine the amount of sweat being produced in the Lone Star State. ::bleh:: Now add exercise, sports leagues, outdoor activities and it becomes a breeding ground for smelly clothes and gear. One of my goals this summer was to figure out how NOT to throw away my favorite pair of yoga pants, volleyball kneepads or gym bag due to lingering odors. What I discovered is that, like Bill Nye The Science Guy says, “It’s Science!” I learned about fabrics and their functions. I learned about sweat. I learned that not all odor treatments are created equal. Let’s dive in!

I started my journey with trying to understand just what makes certain items smell more than others. Why do my somewhat-new yoga pants smell more than my favorite 90’s band t-shirt? (Gavin Rossdale for life!) For this answer I dove into the world of textiles. The dictionary defines textiles as a type of cloth or woven fabric. My yoga pants, gym bag and volleyball kneepads are one textile, while my concert shirt is a different type. Athletic fabrics are typically a blend of polymer fibers, which are designed to pull sweat away from your body and evaporate from the material quickly. However, the only thing that evaporates out of the material is the H2O component of sweat. The rest of what makes up sweat, salts and urea, is left behind. Ick! How clean do you think your stuff is now?

Cotton is the opposite. Cotton is a natural fiber that has a hollow core called a lumen that draws in H2O through its tiny tubes like a straw. It’s called capillary action. And that’s the structure of cotton, now for the chemistry behind all of this.

- Bill Nye, The Science Guy

– Bill Nye, The Science Guy

Cotton fibers are 99 percent cellulose, which is a long chain of connected glucose molecules with a slightly negative charge. If you were paying attention in high school chemistry class, you’d remember that H2O has a positive charge. (Don’t worry, here is the bonus point question!) What happens when you get a negative charge near a positive charge? BOOM! Attraction! Water stays attached to the cotton fiber, weighing down your t-shirt and taking forever to dry. Ugh! Did you know that cotton can absorb up to 27 times its weight of water! That’s a lot of sweat to be weighing you down.

cotton fiber

The structure of cotton fiber.

So now that we know the absorption properties of different fabrics, what causes the smell? That question comes down to sweat. Sweat is composed “of 99 percent water and small bits of carbs, salt, protein and urea” provided by glands. Sweat itself does not smell. The odor comes from bacteria breaking down secretions from the apocrine glands which provide the salts, protein and urea. Bacteria feeds on the secretions in sweat and creates a by-product which is the cause of the smell or what is called body odor.

So I wonder – if I can’t stop from sweating (Thank you, biology!) and I can’t prevent my clothing and gear from absorbing sweat, what can I do? I can remove the feeding bacteria from the materials. Hello, laundry day! But not so fast…

I know you’ve wandered up and down the laundry aisle again and again sniffing “mountain breeze”, “island getaway” or even “fresh linen” and thinking “hmm, I’d prefer fresh linen over b.o. any day!” But you might be only adding to the odor problem if you are trying to tackle your stinky athletic apparel and gear with a common detergent or treatment. The majority of popular laundry detergents and fabric sprays only remove or mask the odor on a natural fiber, like cotton or linen.

But when it comes to polymer-based fabrics or materials you need a formula that will penetrate the fiber to release the salts, urea and carbs. This will remove the bacteria buffet and the odor with it! Specially formulated sports detergents break down the chemical bond in the fiber, allowing it to enter the fiber, attach to the nasty gunk, and exit the fiber with the stinky stuff; leaving behind a fresh, clean poly fiber to take on your next sweat sesh!

An extreme magnification of white individual fabric threads being penetrated by green bacteria on an isolated background

An extreme magnification of fabric threads releasing bacteria

I came across a great stink stopper at my local running store. How convenient! 2Toms® StinkFree Shoe & Gear Spray™ tackles my gym bag, kneepads, yoga mat and more. 2Toms® StinkFree® Sports Detergent is perfect for that load of athletic wear. My yoga pants have never been fresher and I even use it for my bath towels and bed linens. (Bet you didn’t know those were wicking too!) What’s better, is that StinkFree® is exactly that! It frees my sportswear and gear of stink, not masking it with “tropical getaway” fragrance. The only smell that I will be sporting this summer is the smell of awesome! Trust me, it smells better than last weeks’ hot yoga class.

Check out 2Toms® StinkFree® line here.

Learn more about fabrics and “the science behind stink” at the links below.


2Toms FootShield: The Reviews are in!

2Toms FootShield: The Reviews are in!

photo: Amy,

2Toms FootShield:

Real World Athletes Put It To The Test

“Go Longer, Finish Stronger”, “Shield Yourself”,  “Products that keep people moving”. Medi-Dyne and 2Toms have had many mission statements when it comes to creating products for athletes. But none of these phrases are as important as what real life athletes are saying about our newest product, 2Toms FootShield. We partnered with BibRave and it’s team of BibRave Pros to see what runners, yogis, dancers, dads, moms and people just like you had to say. Read their rave reviews below!

” I’m extremely impressed with this product. My feet and toes are very impressed and are much happier with this experience. For someone who has struggled with blisters, excessive sweating/moisture in my feet, strong foot odor (the odor of effort) and athlete’s foot, to be able to prevent and keep all that away is remarkable. I think the product gives me more confidence when running/walking, makes me more surefooted, and helps me thrive better in my very active athletic lifestyle.” – Jeremy


” I have put 2Toms FootShield to the test over the past month and this roll-on works as a perspiration barrier for my feet and helps keep them dry and odor free! FootShield has replaced my “baby powder therapy” by using a blend of natural antifungal, ingredients and moisturizers reduce and prevent sweaty feet, the growth of bacteria, athlete’s foot, blisters, and smelly shoes.” – Amy


“I had some athletes foot going on my feet prior to starting out with 2Toms FootShield. I have started to use FootShield before every run, and the athletes foot had cleared up.  At one point, I forgot to apply my FootShield on for a couple of days in a row, and it came back.  Can’t let that happen again.  I got back to my routine right away after I realized it was coming back.” – Mark

“I learned from trying it out that it’s great for applying before a run or workout, as well as after. I like rolling it onto my feet before I put on my flip flops. It keeps my feet drier in the crazy Florida humidity. I toss FootShield into my post-run recovery bag so that I can put some on my feet when I take off my running shoes. It feels refreshing on my tired feet. Bottom line is, FootShield is a product you will want to check out for yourself. 2Toms makes the highest quality products for endurance athletes and it shows.” – Shannon


We’re thrilled to hear so many runners are loving drier feet, fresh fragrance, natural oils and antifungal treatment of FootShield! Happy feet make for happy runners! Give FootShield a try today.

How to Get that Stinky Smell Out of Shoes and Sports Gear

How to Get that Stinky Smell Out of Shoes and Sports Gear

Well, it’s fall and back-to-school time! And, if you are a parent (or if you are reading this and are in school, yourself), then you know it’s also back-to-sports time.

You also know that means it is back to washing some seriously stinky socks and uniforms, and dealing with smelly shoes and sports gear.  Ugh!

You don’t have to have a child in sports, though. My kindergartner comes home with some pretty stinky feet after wearing his shoes all day, playing on the playground and riding on the hot bus.

You don’t want your house smelling like a locker room. And you don’t want to send your child to his or her game with stinky gear. Washing uniforms and socks is easier, of course, since you can throw them in the wash.

(Click here to learn more about Stink Free Sports Detergent.)

But what to do about the stuff you can’t throw in the washing machine? Getting the odor out of running shoes, or off of soccer shin guards or hockey pads seems more difficult.

That’s exactly why 2Toms created Stink Free Spray.

Stink Free is a shoe deodorizer that also works on sports gear and even in gym bags and lockers. You can spray it on anything that is hard to wash.

It’s safe to use on leather, canvas, satin and denim shoes, in work or riding boots, on hockey and football pads, in helmets, and on motorcycle gear—anything that smells, really.

Stink Free Spray uses a formula that doesn’t just mask the odors caused by sweat, it completely eliminates it.  And Stink Free does not use perfume in its formula. Once the spray dries, there is no smell at all.

If you’ve ever thrown something out, or thought about throwing something out, because it smelled and you didn’t know how to wash it, then you definitely need to try this.

For example, let’s say your husband wore his expensive fur-lined Crocs on a hot day in the summer…with no socks on. Just a hypothetical. But you’ll be glad you have some of 2Toms’s Stink Free Spray.

Go here to learn more and read more about Stink Free Spray.

Do Compression Socks Work?

“How’s Shalane doing?” I asked my husband from the kitchen. He was watching the women’s 10,000 meters at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow with me.

“I think she’s in the front still.”

I came over closer to the TV and instantly knew he was wrong. “No she’s not,” I said. “None of those women are wearing compressions socks. Shalane always wears compression socks.” (She finished 8th in the race.)

Some runners, like elite distance runners Shalane Flanagan and Meb Keflezighi, wear compression socks during races. Some athletes wear them after races for recovery reasons.

What is it about these socks? Should all runners be wearing compression on their legs? Do compression socks work?

Compression socks were originally created to help diabetics improve circulation. Now, many compression sock manufacturers—such as CEP, Zensah, PRO Compression, The Recovery Sock and others–say that their product(s) can help runners, cyclists, triathletes and other athletes race and recover better with benefits like increased oxygen delivery to muscles, decreased muscle fatigue and lactic acid, and cramp prevention.

Unfortunately, there is not any solid research to back up these claims even though many runners and cyclists swear by these socks. In fact, you can find compression gear for almost any part of the body these days—tights, shorts, sleeves, shirts.

“Very little evidence exists (ie. two to three studies out of 15-plus) from a sport and exercise perspective that compression garments improve performance when worn during exercise,” said Rob Duffield, a professor at the School of Movement Studies at Charles Sturt University, in a Competitor Running article last year.

In the article, the author points out that studies have not been able to find any difference in “running times, VO2 max, oxygen consumption or heart rates” between athletes wearing compression socks and those not wearing them.

Sports physiology professor Elmarie Terblanche, from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, said that most studies are done in a lab. So how reliable can those studies be? She decided to test compression socks in the real world and she found that athletes who wore compression socks “had significantly less muscle damage and were able to recover more quickly.”

Oh yeah, and they also ran 12 minutes faster on average.

Of course, Terblanche’s findings were, technically inconclusive. But, like Flanagan, some athletes swear by these tight-fitting socks. Boston Globe writer Shira Springer says that Flanagan “started wearing the knee-high tight-fitting socks to keep her calves warm as she dealt with an Achilles’ problem.”

Now, compression socks are practically the 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist’s trademark.  “It’s very natural for me,” said Flanagan in the Boston Globe article. “I feel like I’m preventing injuries by wearing them and staying warm.”

Don’t mistake compression socks with knee-high socks. Compression-specific gear is very tight—the socks can even be difficult to get on! A pair of compression socks can cost anywhere from about $20 to $80 (or more).

I’m not a world-class athlete, obviously, but I did wear a pair of CEP compression socks during long training runs and during my first marathon. I won’t say I felt energized afterward, but my calves and shins felt pretty decent post-race. In fact, I had to sprint across a stadium parking lot to catch my friend before she left with my keys.


I wore The Recovery Sock during a tough, muddy 7-mile trail race earlier this year. Even if I don’t always wear them during a long run, I definitely wear them after. Maybe they don’t really work, but they feel like they do…and that’s all that matters to me.

So, if you’re on the fence about compression socks, it definitely can’t hurt to try them out…and they may just help you run and recover faster.

We’d love to hear from you.  Do compression socks work for you? Let us know in the comments!

Doing a Tough Mudder or Spartan? Put BlisterShield on your Gear List

Running through mud, climbing up and over obstacles, and crawling through swampy water are par for the course for any obstacle course race. Back in February, I signed up to do the Spartan Sprint, a 5K muddy obstacle race. The race wasn’t until August, so I had plenty of time to prepare myself physically and mentally. Last year I completed the Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile mud obstacle race. I remembered how wet and uncomfortable my feet were during the Mudder and how many blisters I had once the race was over, that I really needed to find a solution.

If you’re not an avid runner, like me, the gear you choose for these types of races is super important. Since I already did the Tough Mudder, I knew I needed trail running shoes that would drain water and socks that would wick moisture away. Those two things I had.

What I wasn’t prepared for last year, however, was the amount of dirt and debris that found its way into my shoes and rubbed between my toes and under my foot. That problem I did not have a solution for, until BlisterShield.

During my research for blister prevention products, I found 2Toms. I really wanted to know if BlisterShield would help prevent those awful tiny blisters between my toes that I experienced during my last obstacle race, so I contacted them.

Katie at 2Toms was very helpful. She explained that BlisterShield keeps your feet dry and creates a frictionless surface which prevents blisters from forming. She also suggested I put BlisterShield between my toes, since that was where my problem arose during the Mudder.

Katie sent me a bunch of samples of BlisterShield. I used the product during my training and my feet always remained dry and blister free. But, the real test was going to be on race day.

Mud Racing; Spartan; Mudder; Blisters

Getting ready for the Spartan Sprint! [image: self taken]

Before I left the house, I took out my sample of BlisterShield and applied it all over my foot! I applied it to the top of my feet, in between my toes, on the bottom of my feet and even in my socks. My feet were completely covered in BlisterShield – granted, I may have gone a little overboard.

blisters; mud races

BlisterShield comes in a convenient powder form. [image: self taken]

blisters prevention

Applying BlisterShield all over my foot. [image: self taken]


Applied BlisterShield to the soles of my feet and in between my toes. My dog was very curious as to what I was doing. [image: self taken]


Even put BlisterShield inside my sock! [image: self-taken]


We arrive at the race ready to go! There were a lot of people there. And most of them in costume! I kept wondering, ‘Will their costumes help them prevent blisters?’


mud races, prevent blisters with BlisterShield

Ready for the race. Bring on the mud! [shown: Patti & Ron Fousek; image: self taken]

And, we’re off! We ran up hills, down hills, in mud, over rocks in mud. We were submersed in mud and even crawled through a rocky, swampy, muddy obstacle to get to the finish.

Oh… I forgot to mention. Katie also gave me a sample of SportShield for chafing. I applied SportShield to my ankles and calves to help prevent rope burn when climbing the rope – it worked!

At the end of the race, my feet actually felt really good! I had mud in my eyes, my shoulder hurt, but my feet were perfectly fine. Unfortunately I couldn’t take any photos of my blister-free feet – my phone was in my bag and I was in a rush to get all the mud off.


That's a lot of mud! We finished! [shown: Patti & Ron Fousek; image: self taken]

That’s a lot of mud! We finished! [shown: Patti & Ron Fousek; image: self taken]

The next time you sign up for a muddy obstacle race, add BlisterShield to your gear list. Your feet with thank you.

Disclaimer: 2Toms did not pay for our race or pay me to write this review. 2Toms did send me samples of their product for free and “sponsored” my husband and me for the Spartan Race by providing the free samples. 

4 Ways for Cyclists to Use ButtShield to prevent Chafing While Cycling

If watching Le Tour de France has you squirming in your seat–not from excitement, but from the thought of sitting on a bike that many days and hours in a row–then you might want to try ButtShield on your next ride.

ButtShield will help keep friction burns, saddle sores and butt rashes at bay. And it lasts all day, even under the most extreme conditions…like the climb up Mont Ventoux perhaps?

ButtShield Logo Home PageHere are 4 ways 2Toms’ ButtShield can help cyclists prevent chafing while cycling:

1. Use ButtShield as a Chamois Cream

That’s right. You don’t need both. ButtShield can be used as your chamois cream. In fact, in a review of ButtShield on by triathlete Greg Kopecky, he said: “ButtShield truly keeps your butt and shorts independent of each other.  It’s slick, but not uncomfortable or strange.  The best part is it lasts a very long time.  Other chamois creams I’ve used can dry up towards the end of a long ride and stop doing their job.”

What’s in ButtShield? Dimethicone, Dimethiconol, Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Shea Butter, Green Tea Extract, Calendula Extract and Horestail Plant Extract. It’s non-staining, non-toxic and non-greasy. And the roll-on applicator makes it easy to apply. It’s safe for both leather and synthetic chamois–apply it directly to the chamois and then roll it on your body for extra coverage. Kopecky’s final thought: “I think ButtShield IS better than regular chamois cream.”

2. Use ButtShield on Inner Thighs

2Toms’ ButtShield can also be used to prevent chafing on thighs. Other ways to prevent thigh chafing on a bicycle is to get a good quality seat, and to wear proper clothing, such as bicycle shorts. But sometimes that’s not enough. Apply ButtShield to your inner thighs before your next ride to avoid chafing.

3. Use ButtShield Under Seams

Bike shorts are tight. Although, good-fitting bicycle shorts–or pants–shouldn’t be too tight, they can still leave red marks and even chafing on your skin under the seams around your waist and legs. Before putting them on, apply some ButtShield on your waist where you cinch your shorts. Women can apply ButtShield under sports bra seams, as well, to prevent chafing on the upper body.

4. Put ButtShield on Feet

Of course, the best way to prevent getting blisters on your feet is to have a good pair of cycling shoes and a quality pair of sweat-wicking socks. But what about those people who are just blister-prone? And some triathletes prefer to go sockless on the bike. Take a second to roll ButtShield all over your feet and you can avoid blisters that come from wet, sweaty skin rubbing in shoes.

For more on 2Toms’ ButtShield, visit the FAQ page.