How not to be that "stinky" person at work?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    How not to be that "stinky" person at work?

    So you all seem like seasoned and experienced bike commuters, any tips or pointers on showing up to work and not offending co-workers with your smellyness from the ride in?

    This winter I've been riding to work with cycling tights or shorts and just throwing my Levis over them when I get there. And since the temps have been rising I noticed sometimes the smells were getting a little ripe lol. I can only imagine what it will be like when the temps are 100+ here in the summer! This morning I bought some new shirts and shorts and underwear that are "breathable" and "wicking". Maybe that will help.

    Any insights? Thanks!
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  2. #2
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    After you show up at work, baby wipes, alcohol disinfectant under the arms, clean clothes, and some light cologne. don't be the AXE guy stinking up the place. No matter what, you will smell after a bike ride in hot weather. Find someplace nearby you could take a shower
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  3. #3
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    Your clothes will smell worse than you. Stay away from cotton. A good Under Armour shirt will go a long ways.

    I used to ride in a UA under shirt, get to work and put my uniform over it and I could still get a 3 or so uses out of the uniform before I had to wash it. My commute was only 4 miles though.
    You change your own flats? Support your LBS and pay them to instead.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Volsung View Post
    Stay away from cotton. A good Under Armour shirt will go a long ways.

    I used to ride in a UA under shirt, get to work and put my uniform over it ...
    Cotton is bad, but I find that synthetics eventually pick up a funk that will not go away. After a wash they'll seem fresh, but even one quick ride will leave them stinking again. It takes awhile to get there, but once it happens I don't think there's any going back (I've tried detergent boosters, and even washing in vinegar once)

    Merino is amazing for not stinking, although even there you can apparently overdo it. (My "winter" shirt - which I wear everyday, for 5+ months of the year, for 3+ years - has gotten pretty bad. Although it's also pretty threadbare at this point.)

    But my solution is to do a full change at work - find a barrier-free washroom, and swap it all over. But you do need someplace to hang up the riding clothes to let them dry.

  5. #5
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    Yep. Change. Wet wipes. Keep a spare container of deodorant in your desk.

    Even a warm, damp washcloth can work wonders.

  6. #6
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    I've got nothing. I work in a sawmill. 10 minutes after we get to work we're all a sweaty mess.
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  7. #7
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    Pretty much already covered but I would add towel to that.

    No shower but the towel is great for wiping yourself down, removing sweat and grime etc ( I take a full on bath sheet size). Then follow up with the baby wipes and fresh clothes and a small squirt of deodorant. Hang up your towel and cycling gear in the open if you can. Try to avoid hanging in lockers. I run at lunchtimes too and use the same routine and I don't (think) I smell bad.

    Sounds bad now I type it but the towel will go the week for me. I guess to a degree it depends on your individual make-up and body odour as to what works.
    2018 commutes - 26 days, 542 miles

  8. #8
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    I said this in another thread on another forum, but allowing some extra "cool down" time will help as well. Before you change into fresh clothes and put the deodorant on, make sure that your body temperature is back down to a normal level especially once it gets really warm out. I am a second shift worker so early morning doesn't affect me as far as time goes. I end up riding in much warmer weather in the afternoon however, and this has helped me quite a bit in not offending coworkers with body odor. They all know that I ride, and I am very conscious of body odor and smelling like butt cheeks and banana bread at work.
    The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.

  9. #9
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    A shower now that would be nice but unfortunately we don't have one at work. There's a small changing area but I don't think it's meant to get full on buck naked to change. Will have to slip into one of the bathroom stalls and change, the undies and all (I think wearing my cycling shorts/tights under my pants was probably a mistake? lol). Wet wipe a little and dry off with a towel.

    The shirts I bought yesterday are both Under Armour, fit loose and light, if they start stinking even after a wash I'll just get new ones, these were only $20 each so no big deal.

    There are some lockers but they are awfully small. I'll hang my clothes outside where my bike parks, that should air them out good. I had been stashing them in one of my desk drawers, maybe that's where that smell was coming from!

    I was thinking of wearing some loose fitting shorts for the ride instead of cycling shorts, to let the air flow. I don't really need the gel padding because my seat is plenty comfy. Thanks for all the info!
    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    some weird crazed desert dweller.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    smelling like butt cheeks and banana bread at work.
    I just had an LOL snort at this, haha!
    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    some weird crazed desert dweller.

  11. #11
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    Merino Merino Merino Merino. Wool that is. Did I mention merino wool? Seriously, with a regular poly cycling shirt, cotton, under armor quick dry, fast wick whatever. When I get to work the shirt is done, stinks like crazy. I get to shower but the locker room suffers and then I have to put that mess on again.

    In the winter I wear 1 shirt all week long to ride. 10 rides but it gets to dry in-between.

    When I get to work I put on a merino tee under my work shirt which seriously fights off the return of the stink.

    I like the -33 baselayer & LL Bean 1/4 zip Cresta. I just picked up a summer weight one at nashbar that looks nice.
    Giro CA Merino Ride Crew Jersey

    I'm not sure about wearing your shorts/tights under your pants. Let those babies breathe!

    I always add an oxi-clean type booster to the laundry to keep help de-funk the exercise clothes.

  12. #12
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    What? Did you say Merino? will look into that also, thanks!
    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    some weird crazed desert dweller.

  13. #13
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    ^^100% Merino that is. In other words, don't go for the blends.

  14. #14
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    All of my methods have been mentioned here. Merino wool is the bee's knees. I take it easy at the end of my ride to start cooling down. I put my lunch away, start the computer booting, etc before changing to allow more cool down. I change everything, right down to my socks. I hang everything off my bike to dry out. I have a pack towel that I use all week then take home on weekends to wash. If I'm getting funky, I'll add another layer of deodorant but even that is infrequent. Because I work in the office of a manufacturing company and don't deal with customers face to face, I took the boss' advice and bring an outfit on Monday and wear the same clothes at work all week, taking them home with my sweaty towel on Friday afternoon.
    I love riding my bike!

  15. #15
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    I vote for Merinowool too. By now I have several shirts in different thickness. This is good for layering in winter too and at work, you can throw off everything except the last layer to cool down. Then I go to the bathroom to change. I am lucky that we have a toilet for handicapped people, which is quite roomy, quiet and most of all, clean. I dont like the regular toilets for changing since not all gents sit down when p-ing

    For the rest it is all as above. I have a small toilet bag in my office with babywipes, hairgel and deodorant (not AXE but something less distinctive...). I have my hair relatively short so I can take a few paper towels from the dispenser, otherwise I would also vote for a smaller towel. A sport towel costs a bit more, a floorwipe is almost the same stuff and -very- cheap. Even a cotton towel lasts very long, as long as you can hang it over a heater directly after use (I do that at home).

    For the rest, try not to overdress so you so wont sweat too much. Especially when it is cold outside, that is difficult. I admit that after 3-4 winters of commuting, I still dont get it right often.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bedwards1000 View Post
    ^^100% Merino that is. In other words, don't go for the blends.
    Not so good if you are allergic to wool (I have not retested to see if I still am as other allergies have gone with the detoxing). I found silk ski under garments work well in cold weather in layers and roadie gear in warmer weather. I have full shower facilities and can change.

  17. #17
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    The only thing I ride in that I sometimes also wear at work is socks. I'm struggling in my still-sorta-new-to-me work environment with a place to hang my riding clothes to let them dry out. Cramped for space compared to my last "office" (I'm a teacher so I had a whole classroom at my disposal... one corner was bike parking/closet space). I'm rotating riding clothes on a much shorter schedule now for fear of the funk... I have to hang them right around/under my desk, which is closely parked near other people's desks. But that's me... the OP's biggest issue is not getting out of those clothes! Full change man, it's the only way to go.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    Not so good if you are allergic to wool.
    I'd rather have appendicitis.

    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    The only thing I ride in that I sometimes also wear at work is socks.
    Wool socks, I hope. I do that too unless they are soaked and then I trade them out for the ones in my locker. Yeah, I said locker. I'm spoiled.

  19. #19
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    ^^ If it's wet out and I'm at risk of wet socks, I use the back-up socks that are stashed in the bottom of my backpack and let the riding socks dry out during the day. I have neoprene oversocks that used to keep my socks totally dry on the ride when they were new several years ago, but now they are about as waterproof as a bath towel. There's a chance I could be getting some Gore-Tex replacements soon though
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fatkidonabike View Post
    I've got nothing. I work in a sawmill. 10 minutes after we get to work we're all a sweaty mess.
    Sawmill worker here too. I just change when I get to work. Use deodorant.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by TenSpeed View Post
    I said this in another thread on another forum, but allowing some extra "cool down" time will help as well. Before you change into fresh clothes and put the deodorant on, make sure that your body temperature is back down to a normal level especially once it gets really warm out.
    Just wanted to second this. I actually altered my ride to include an extra half mile that is slightly downhill into my parking lot. I don't pedal at all, just coast with my armpits a bit more exposed (I'm not coasting with no hands looking like I am on a rollercoaster going down, but just elbows out a bit more). It helps a lot.

  22. #22
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    The cool down period is a must. I have access to several large walk-in coolers and hang out in there to cool off fast in the summer. If you are really working it on the way to work, my further advice would be to slow down a little and not sweat so much. Leave the real workout for the trip home. Other than that, a wet wash cloth and towel made of the quick dry microfiber or camp variety, Packtowel, is mandatory. It sucks trying to get into dry clothes when you're hot and sweaty. I'm not a cologne guy and work where I may be in the lab or surrounded by people returning from the field plots. So it's really not much of an issue for me other than personal comfort. If you work in an office or interact with people it may be that you should get in early enough so you aren't in a rush and can use the bathroom or locker room and not feel like you will be imposing your naked self upon the coworkers. A little left to the imagination is probably a preferable state of mind by most work colleagues. Although, my dad's generation was a lot less self aware and less mindful of others' bits and showered together. By the time I got to High School the powers that be taped off the communal showers and you showered at home. Best to be safe than face a reprimand or harassment suit because someone couldn't avert their eyes or simply have a stable mindset about their own tackle.
    I don't know why,... it's just MUSS easier to pedal than the other ones.

  23. #23
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    Any showers nearby? A YMCA or gym will sometimes offer shower privileges. We have one person bathrooms. I wash up in the sink, towel dry, get dressed.

  24. #24
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    Have to agree with the full change method if possible, works wonders even if you do nothing else. I usually add a few baby wipes for the body, and either wet my head in the sink or wear a cap (field people can get away with this). I have posted this before, but if you have power access in a mini locker/cabinet/under a desk, consider this fan I have run continuosly for a few years, with my bike clothes hanging above... Vornado Flippi V8 Air Circulator CR1-0095-06R - Walmart.com

  25. #25
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    You could have my old job as a jailer. Searching people who have wet themselves multiple times without changing their clothes for weeks while drunk off of hairspray negates any commuting stank you can create.

  26. #26
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    I'm lucky to work somewhere with a locker room/shower. If I don't get a chance to shower after I arrive, I'll just do a quick rag washing in the bathroom sink. Pits and basement and I'm good enough.

  27. #27
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    I just stink. As a teaching assistant for biology labs I really don't want those 19 year old kid bothering me anyway.

    A change of clothes has never failed me. I don't wear cycling specific clothes though. Honestly I only really sweat when it's pretty warm and put thought into not overdressing in the cold so I don't sweat.
    dang

  28. #28
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    Fortunately I'll be able to take the advice of a "cool down" on the way to work there's a long downhill section right before I get there I can air out and take it easy. I normally use that section to try and set a personal land speed record haha. And I'd say 3/4 of my ride to work is downhill. Maybe I'll just cruise it instead of trying to go fast all the time.

    Our bathroom stalls are minuscule to say the least but I'm going to do the full change there. Been practicing changing wile standing on my shoes, the floor can get nasty! Trust me I've seen some truly gross stuff in there, barf!

    And I'll air dry all my riding clothes, hang them off the bike where it parks outside and in the shade.

    Will do some shopping around for Merino this weekend, I don't like ordering clothes over the internet they never seem to fit right. Thanks for the advise everyone and keep it coming for other new bike commuters!
    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    some weird crazed desert dweller.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Volsung View Post
    You could have my old job as a jailer. Searching people who have wet themselves multiple times without changing their clothes for weeks while drunk off of hairspray negates any commuting stank you can create.
    I'm glad it's your "old job" !
    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    some weird crazed desert dweller.

  30. #30
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    Merino wool / Smart Wool, just about anything wool would be a good choice. And! Always change out of your bike clothing when you get to work.

    There are some base layers that are laced with copper threads. The copper threads helps prevent odor just as natural wool will. You may want research this too.

    Seems counter productive, but I always shower in the morning before I ride. If I start out clean and fresh, it takes longer for the bacteria to get stinky on my body. If I shower the night before, I find I get B.O. quicker and am that stinky guy at work. :-(

    Good luck soon to be not so stinky guy at work

  31. #31
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    ^^ Absolutely on the morning shower. Makes a huge difference.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    ^^ Absolutely on the morning shower. Makes a huge difference.
    This is the only thing I was going to add to what everyone else has already said. My routine is to shower and apply deodorant before I leave, wear clean cycling specific clothes, and full change when I get to work. I just change in the bathroom stall. I use baby wipes and a small camp towel when it is really warm out and always reapply deodorant and a tiny splash of cologne. I work in an office setting and share an office. I let my riding clothes air out on small hooks I put up under my desk. In the last 3 years, no one has ever mentioned me smelling and I haven't noticed anything so I think it works. I have about 3 days worth of riding clothes and only wear them 1x before washing them, unless I forget to do laundry and then I sometimes push it and wear it 2 days.

    I have long thick hair but I don't do anything to wash it once I get to work. I guess I've never thought about that until I read that some of you do a quick wash of your hair. Fortunately it has never been an issue.

  33. #33
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    Speaking of hair, do you all wash your helmets? I took a big wiff of the inside of mine the other day, it prompted me to look at Bell's website for cleaning info! I can't smell my own hair, I'll have the Mrs do a sniff test.
    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    some weird crazed desert dweller.

  34. #34
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    Clothing: Anti-microbial + moisture-wicking

    Clothing which is quick-drying (moisture-wicking), plus anti-microbial seems to help in my experience. A pack of cleansing wipes (Old Spice High Endurance or other brand etc) would probably not be a bad idea either. Give yourself time to cool down (and dry off)
    after you get where you're going.
    A change of shirt at least might be good too.
    That's about all I can say.

    Example fabrics for clothing are: CoolPlus, X-Static, Cocona.
    Cocona is supposedly the healthiest option, made from coconut fibers. Hemp clothing is supposed to be naturally anti-microbial.
    Merino wool clothing also has the desired properties but is pricey as far as I've shopped.

  35. #35
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    The bacteria that grows on synthetics is a lot more pungent that what will grow on cotton. I'm fully synthetic during the ride, less sweat=less smell, + cool down faster. About a half-hour after arrival I hit the men's room, wet a cotton rag, wipe down all the skin. Baby wipes are great for camping, but when a sink is available, a washrag works faster/better. Takes less than one minute.

    Apply deodorant, dress in whatever the day calls for. Powder for the shoes.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

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