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I have a unknown allergy to perfumes. My breathing gets blocked from my nose up if someone near me wears perfume. I am okay with mild to low perfume.

But sometimes I feel I am not that fresh, and may smell. There are people who look fresh all day long, and I wonder how? For me if I wear the same shirt for 2 days, it starts smelling (which I don’t want).

How can I keep fresh and not smell the whole day, or at least at work?

  • 1
    You now have a known allergy to some unknown materials that stink which may include washing detergents and room "de" odourizers that also stink. – Stan May 25 at 10:26
  • 1
    Do you live in a hotter part of the world? Does your job entail a lot of sweating? – ColonD May 29 at 8:54
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I have a teenage son and I'm allergic to perfume, so I know a lot about this.

  1. First off, look for personal hygiene and laundry products that are unscented or as low perfume as possible. In some areas this is a challenge but it's worth the effort.

  2. Make sure your clothes are coming out of the laundry with no smell to begin with. If the underarms of a shirt still smell bad when wet, after washing, then you need to improve your washing process. You can try a different laundry detergent (or soap), you can increase the water temperature (assuming the shirt won't shrink if you do so), and you can try agitating or scrubbing longer. If you're washing by hand, you can do some targeted scrubbing at the underarms. If the label tells you to wash in cold water to avoid shrinkage, doing a pre-soak with vinegar solution before washing as usual can help. This is to kill bacteria.

  3. Even if the shirt doesn't noticeably smell bad after one day, put it straight into the wash. Each day, put on a fresh shirt and fresh underwear. Depending on the climate, your activity level and your metabolism, you may need to change some items halfway through the day -- e.g. socks, shirt, perhaps underpants too.

  4. Be careful how you're storing your dirty clothes in between laundry days. My son has a tendency to come home from playing basketball and throw the sweaty shirt and undershirt straight into the dirty clothes hamper, without separating the two layers, and without spreading them out to dry. This does make it harder to get the smell out when washing.

  5. Periodically trim your underarm hair. Bacteria can colonize this area. Trimming here with scissors (or shaving completely if you prefer) is an easy way to knock the bacteria out. Once every two months might be often enough.

  6. Check your underpants. If they are particularly smelly at the end of the day, there are some things to check: Is there a urinary tract infection, or for women, a vaginal infection? Are trace amounts of urine ending up in the underpants after using the bathroom? If it's from rushing out of the bathroom without wiping or blotting sufficiently, the solution is obvious. If it's from waiting too long to go to the bathroom, and thus dribbling a bit of urine before getting to the toilet, the solution might involve setting a timer to remind yourself to go to the bathroom. If there's some urinary incontinence, Kegel exercises can help for either gender, and also training oneself to go to the bathroom less often (sounds counterintuitive, I know); a medical check-up would be in order if these ideas don't solve the problem.

  7. Understand that hormone fluctuations can result in stronger underarm smells. This could be for either gender in the teenage and young adult years, and for women, it could be related to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or transition to menopause. (If transition to menopause might be relevant for you, a separate question could be asked about how to prevent and deal with hot flashes.)

  8. Some people are very sensitive to small changes in temperature throughout the day. They might dress warmly to avoid feeling cold, but then at other times in the day that might result in being too warm. If this is your situation, the solution is to wear layers that can be taken off and put back on easily with minimum fuss. For example, a sweater, sweatshirt or fleece that zips or buttons would be a better choice than a pullover.

  9. Experiment with the fiber content of your clothes. Cotton is usually a safe choice. Nylon is for many people the most problematic, with polyester a close second. Some people are okay with rayon and acrylic and the more modern man-made fibers, but others are not. Wool is a whole world in itself -- there are so many kinds. You just have to become aware of the fiber content of your clothes and then notice which ones give you more trouble than others.

  • I found Marino wool great material for clothes. I use when hiking. Somehow it doesn't smell bad from sweat, even if I only washed it out with cold water from a creek. – Tim Jun 11 at 17:13
  • @Tim - You and George Bernard Shaw! Sadly, I am allergic to all wool. – aparente001 Jun 11 at 19:53
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The easiest solution is to use personal care products that are appropriate for you, such as deodorant without a smell that bothers you. Antiperspirant is the more common product, but it doesn't reduce smell any more than deodorant. Antiperspirant is for people that want to reduce their sweat, and I don't know whether you care about that.

Next, you should shower in the morning. You can also shower at night if you like, but the morning is the important time as far as duration of effectiveness of deodorant and body odor staying away. Showering at night, then putting on deodorant at night and again in the morning is not as effective as showering in the morning and putting on deodorant at that time.

Finally, don't wear your shirt two days in a row. If you want to wear a shirt twice without washing it, hang it up in the air and be sure it smells clean before you put it on again.

I am highly skeptical about other household products like baking soda making a difference. I googled "baking soda effect on body odor" and found no authoritative results in the first 2-3 pages. This is as compared to reliable home remedies which are not BS (unrelated comparison: "boric acid for ants"). The first few pages for real working strategies have newspaper articles, university blogs, and articles written by the industry. Baking soda is a hack, but it is probably also bullshit. To the extent that it works, is it also probably bad for your skin. Skincare products should have a pH of around 5. Baking soda is much too basic. More info here.

3

One simple option is to change your shirt in the middle of the day. You can bring a second shirt to work, and simply change it during your lunch break. The second shirt could even look exactly like the shirt you wore in the morning, so no one at work would know you changed.

You may also do this with your other clothes, such as socks and underwear. Just be sure to bring an air-tight bag (such as plastic) with you to hold your dirty clothes. You should also bring a backpack or duffel bag to discretely carry your clean clothes and later to carry the air-tight bag of dirty clothes.

  • Sounds good, but that also means a lot of washing, which means shirts will lose its colour and newly looks. that is 10 Tee's getting washed every weekend. isn't that gonna ruin my shirt quickly? or is there a smart way to keep new clothes new while its washed again and again? – Nofel May 25 at 0:43
  • @Nofel That is a good point: your clothes will be washed too often. One possible solution is to use the "gentle" cycle on your washing machine. This will make your clothes last much longer. – BrettFromLA May 25 at 0:50
  • when u say gentle cycle, do u mean the spin? if so what is consider gentle or is it the warm water? – Nofel May 25 at 0:56
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    @Nofel My washing machine has multiple settings (Normal, Casual, Gentle), as well as water temperatures (hot, warm, cool, cold) and sizes (small, medium, large, extra-large). So I meant so use "Gentle" + "Cool", and whatever size you need. – BrettFromLA May 25 at 15:35
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You are confusing two different issues. Looking neat and not having objectionable body odour.

The two are not the same––but may be related.

Odour: Humans can smell with their noses. Things that we smell can sometimes be pleasant or unpleasant.

Perfume and fragrance producers would like you to think that we humans have an unpleasant odour unless we stink with what they put into their products. They spend Millions of dollars to make us feel insecure unless we soak ourselves in their chemical "fragrances." Their advertising messages are not true. As a matter of fact, naturally occurring pheromones that our body produces actually attract others.

What does repel others is the odour of bacteria that has been sitting on our skin that has been produced by physical and mental stress of normal urban lifestyles.

Covering this stuff up with a de-odourizer doesn't work as well as simply removing the stuff that stinks. Removing the stuff is easy by practicing normal daily body hygiene. Rather than going into that, I'll move on.

Appearance: Looking well-groomed and neat is easier in clothes that fit you well and in colours and patterns that compliment your hair colour and body shape.

Some fabrics work better than other, however, depending on what you do. As a general rule, knits show wrinkles less than weaves. A polo shirt will look less wrinkled after a given amount of wear than a cotton one.

Don't mistake clothes that look okay but are dirty (have stale bacteria) and just have to be washed to remove offensive odour. Again, simple hygiene is the (soap and water) solution.

You are now aware that some things affect you so you can now avoid wearing materials and using products that affect others the same way.

Thank you for helping avoid the propaganda being spread by detergent companies who would have you believe that their phthalates (that's what they're called) stand between being shunned or loved.

Good luck.

  • speaking of washing, I have seen people not washing daily wore jeans for weeks and months. is that safe and wear to work every day? – Nofel May 26 at 13:00
  • @Nofel define "safe". I wash my jeans very rarely (when they get visibly dirty which happens once in few months) and walk with them every day, all day. I'm not sick as result and they don't smell. – Shadow The Princess Wizard May 27 at 10:35
  • @ShadowWizard - Do you live alone? In other words, do you have any confirmation from someone close to you that they don't start to smell unpleasant as a result? – aparente001 Jun 9 at 12:12
  • @apa yes, wife and three kids who have no problem to call me out when I smell badly. ;) – Shadow The Princess Wizard Jun 10 at 9:18
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As I understand, you want to stop your body from generating bad smell, right?

There are 2 options:

  1. Use a strong antiperspirant. It may fix the problem at the expense of not allowing your body to release its toxins through the normal, healthy perspiration process.

  2. After you wash normally with water and soap, wash again with baking soda. Leave the baking soda work for about 1 minute, and rinse. After you do it a few times, you can stop doing it for a while. Repeat when needed.

What happens in case 2?

The baking soda kills the micro-organisms which flourish in sweat. These microorganisms are the cause of the bad smell. Metaphorically, it is their poop which smells bad.

Once you kill the colony, there will still be sweating, but without bad smell.

In time the colony will reappear, and that is when you need to repeat.

I think it is enough to use this only in the "smelly" areas. It makes no real sense to use it for your entire body - although it will not hurt you.

It is most beneficial if you use for:

  • your arm pits;
  • your feet;
  • sometimes, even your mouth - can successfully replace the mouth wash.
  • Comment: noses smell. Substances stink. Smelly areas (that is not your nose) should be stinky areas. – Stan Jun 2 at 18:45
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In my case, I start to smell when I sweat a lot, so one way to not smell badly is to reduce sweat to minimum.

Hence my tips are:

  • Stay in cool places. Use air conditioning where possible, e.g. in car and at your work place.
  • Don't stay outside when it's hot.
  • Take a shower every morning so you stay fresh for as long as possible.

Also, about "staying fresh", I got another tip which is to wash your face often. Washing the face helps one to both feel fresh and look fresh, so you can do that during work.

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Excellent advice regarding morning showers. Also, during summer opting for an airconditioned ride vs walking or especially biking and dropping by the restroom upon arrival for a quick swipe in the armpits with a paper towel and a facewash would get you off to a good start of the day. Repeat whenever perspiration takes hold or in the second half of the day, depending on how you feel. Of course, try to be discreet as you attempt personal hygiene at work.

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If you cannot wash odorous areas during the day perhaps due to lack of facilities, why not carry some wet wipes and use those ? You need to remove the substances that smell bad, not hide those bad smells with perfumes.

  • Good idea but I wonder how women carry perfume without a purse and refresh themselves. – Nofel May 31 at 23:09
  • @Nofel to be honest, I don't know any that smell bad enough to need to even carry perfume. If you just wash regularly, it really isn't an issue. – bigbadmouse Jun 3 at 7:31
  • @Stan I don't think that is correct, flowers do not stink. Smell is a verb, objects can "smell of roses", yes ? However I have clarified my usage to address your comment. – bigbadmouse Jun 3 at 7:33

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