Accurate Sniffers Track Down Sweat Odours On Clothing

BÖNNIGHEIM, Germany — September 14, 2012 — Modern functional textiles for sport, leisure and
professional wear are true high-tech products which ensure that sweat is transported away from the
body and that we feel good. Such textiles are also increasingly furnished with properties designed
to prevent unpleasant sweat odours, but this is where there are big differences in quality. It is
no surprise therefore that, in addition to the fibre type (e.g.polyester, cotton), the design and
the finish of the textiles are very important.

Separating the wheat from the chaff is the task undertaken by textile experts at the
Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim. They have access to state-of-the-art test methods which enable
them to examine the specific interactions between clothing and sweat. For instance, if the textile
contains special anti-bacterial hygiene-fibres or a hygiene coating, the effect of this in relation
to sweat odour producing bacteria can be investigated. However, the absorption of the sweat odour
molecules into the fibres themselves is being examined by scientists by skilled delving into the
technical bag of tricks. For instance, they mark the sweat odour molecules as radioactive and can
therefore track the tiniest traces of them on the textiles. This enables it to be quantified
precisely how much of the sweat odour remains on the fibre. The so-called”smell” of worn clothing
from field tests by using an odour test device rounds off the range of methods used at Hohenstein.
Specially-trained experts can directly assess the shirts, socks and other items of clothing worn by
the test persons by using this olfactometer. These panellists or sniffers do not know when the
device will offer their nose the strongly diluted odour test or neutral reference air. As soon as
their sensitive olfactory organs perceive the sweat odour, they give a signal. The associated
software then determines precisely the odour threshold of the textile in question. This means that
the valid and reproducible sweat odour behaviour of different products can be compared to each
other. Only when a product passes this strict test can it be awarded the Hohenstein Quality Label
“Odour Reduction ” / “All Day Fresh”.

An important, fundamental examination relating to the absorption and release of sweat odour
molecules to/from cotton, wool and polyester fibres will shortly be published ina professional
journal by the scientists from the Department for Hygiene, Environment& Medicine at the
Hohenstein Institute . “Our study shows that specific treatments can have a crucial influence on
the absorption behaviour of textiles as regards their sweat odour,” says Dr. Timo Hammer,
Scientific Manager of the department. The Hohenstein experts will now perform further
investigations and together with textile manufacturers,want to develop products with optimum sweat
odour management properties.

Posted on September 25, 2012

Source: Hohenstein Institute