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Smelly outdoor gear? Neutralize odors with these 4 strategies

By Cara MacDonald, | Posted - Jul 6th, 2019 @ 7:10am

SALT LAKE CITY — We’ve all experienced it: well-worn climbing shoes stinking up every location you take them to, smelly ski boots that haven’t been properly dried, or just generally stinky gear from outdoor recreation adventures.

It’s an unpleasant problem but, luckily, there are solutions. Here are’s top tips to de-stink your equipment.

Use a chemical-free, odor-neutralizing spray

Odor-neutralizing sprays are a common solution to smelly shoes and equipment, but for some the synthetic varieties just aren’t very effective. Sprayzee, a Utah-based company, has created an all-natural, odor-eliminating spray designed specifically for deodorizing shoes. The product us 12 powerhouse essential oils and some natural enzymes. This odor eliminator also absorbs future foot odors, according to its Amazon profile.

The Sprayzee with some climbing shoes; Courtesy of Sprayzee

“Bad odors are caused by bacteria and fungi and can't just be covered up with synthetic fragrance,” the description explained. “Sprayzee uses the most powerful essential oils and enzymes to actually change bad odors on a molecular level to become fresh and good-smelling odors.”

The solution is said to take away the bad smells and leaves wafts of pleasant essential oil scents behind.

Let sun and air eliminate the smell

Most stinky gear is caused by bacteria and fungi, and the sun can be a surprisingly effective eliminator, according to Outside Magazine. Leave your gear out in the sun for a day, hanging on a line, and odors will be lessened or eliminated by the time you return to it.

Additionally, Safe Space Co says airing equipment out frequently after use will help prevent the formation of bad smells, as most of the time they appear because the damp gear is left to stew.

Harness the power of washing and detergent

Washing clothes is the obvious answer to a smelly member of your outdoor recreation wardrobe, but it’s not always effective. There are numerous strategies to making your laundry escapades more worthwhile when treating stinky items.

First, turn your clothes inside out before washing them, according to Safe Space Co. Sweat, oil, bacteria and fungi collect on the inside of clothes, so turning them inside out will make detergent more effective.

Safe Space Co added that oftentimes using less detergent is actually more effective, as the washer is only designed to handle a standard level of detergent, and excess may create a residue on the clothes which is ideal for building fungus and mildew.

Outside Magazine suggests utilizing the power of detergents specifically designed for de-stinking clothes, like the Nikwax Basewash. This powerful detergent not only cleans and deodorizes, but it also inhibits the build-up of body odors in the future, according to its Amazon profile. Backpacker Magazine suggested OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover (which is available at most supermarkets) as a good alternative if the Nikwax Basewash isn’t compatible with the items being cleaned.

What about tents, backpacks and similar?

Old tents may accumulate a musty smell, while backpacks can capture odors from sweat and spillage. Backpacker recommends utilizing Revivex Odor Eliminator, formerly known as MiraZyme, which goes above and beyond normal washing to employ a natural formula utilizing water-activated microbes to attack smell-causing bacteria.

Simply soak the backpack or tents in a bathtub full of lukewarm water with one ounce of Revivex for backpacks and two ounces for tents, according to Backpacker. Turn them inside out and open every zipper, then let soak for 10-15 minutes before letting them dry in shade without rinsing.

How do you get bad odors out of your outdoor adventure clothing and gear? Comment more ideas below.

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