Do the Unstinkable: Six ways to stink less


No fancy yoga shirts were harmed in this practice

Every so often I lay my mat down only to be assaulted by the smell of, to put it mildly, teen spirit? I’m all for being wild and free, but that does not extend to smelling like the inside of a gym locker stuffed with dirty socks. Don’t get miffed: I’m not pointing fingers here, as it was not too long ago that a friend sniffed me in the studio and (mercifully) whispered, “we gotta get you some new clothes.” Oh the shame! Indeed, home practice has dished up a serious truth: when someone stinks, it’s gonna be me. Look, we need not promise each other a rose garden (in fact, please don’t: perfume-y, flowery — even strong essential oil-y things are among the most offensive smells to practice around). However, when you are sweating six days a week — in your practice, as a teacher, not to mention all the other outdoorsy fun and cardio extracurriculars and summer heat — it helps to have some tools to maintain a healthy level of non-offensivesness (at least in the odor department):


  1. Ah, deodorant.* I’m a longtimer consumer of natural deodorant that does um, what exactly? Not anymore. Currently, my fave is this Nubian coconut papaya natural deodorant. I like it because it works. Also, it makes me smell like Hawaii.  My other favorite produce until recently was rock salt deodorant– this stuff works which is both odd and refreshing, cause it smells like nothing. and it lasts. I mean, I got a lot of shakti. I take a shower at night and I wake up smelling, full of shakti. Not if i put this stuff on. However, I heard some conflicting information about potassium alum in the brand I was using. My plan now is to obtain a bar of pure himalayan sea salt and use that.If I ever get crafty, I might also try one of these DIY options. 
  2. Dry shampoo–Why did I not know of this miraculous product sooner? I sweat twice a day six days a week, on average, with my yoga practice, teaching yoga in a ho sweaty room, and penchant for hamster-like intervals on a stationary bike. I take many short showers, but am down to washing my hair a mere two times a week. Why? Dry shampoo not only makes my hair look awesome (i.e., less flat and lifeless), it also saves it from extra washing in this dry climate and it smells good, so it de-stinks despite my repeated sweatings. By the way, I bought the smaller size of this stuff (in grapefruit) in November; still going strong (so it also saves me money). (Caveat: the utility of dry shampoo seems to decrease with outdoor humidity– in other words, I barely used it in Hawaii. In a dry climate though it sure saves my hair from further drying out. To avoid overwashing my hair when it still needs to be rinsed, I use with raw Apple cider vinegar. Man that sh&t does just about anything).
  3. This detergent— They call it “No Sweat” but really, it’s the thing that allows me to sweat the most (without harming others’ olfactory nerves in the process). I found this product on a private online mysore group post (Thanks DC Mysore peeps!), bought it and haven’t bought anything else since; it even dethroned this stuff (Sports Suds) which is comparable, but not quite my favorite. Suffice it to say I cannot just throw super stinky stuff in the washer everyday for a year and expect it to be ok. It’s not. You end up smelling like what your clothes are: a mecca for stinky micoorganisms. The fibers in your clothes are now the underground dens for all that is rancidly unholy.  Never fear: this No Sweat stuff works! Sure, there is a lot to know about de-stinking your clothing– enough to fill its own blog with white vinegar, baking soda blah blah, but as a lazy human, this is my day to day “go-to” for sweaty yoga clothes.
  4. I have done the unstinkable… I mean, unthinkable. I have stunk up clothes technologically designed to be un-stinkable. How have I ruined these shirts from a name brand retailer, which I love except that within two minutes of sweating in them I smell like a stink bomb? Well, it turns out that these fancy schmancy — and pricey — technological fabrics come with special washing instructions, in my case, tumble dry low. Yes, it turns out that reading is indeed fundamental, and failure to read in this case may have proven stinky. Could it be that drying them on high heat turned these “unstinkable” techie shirts over to the dark side of stenchdom? Who knows? The lesson here is if you have fancy yoga stuff, read the labels and wash and care carefully.
  5. Speak of fancy schmancy yoga clothes, who needs them? In the past year, I’ve taken to wearing bikini tops with plain old cotton t-shirts (from my favorite local businesses) cut into racer back tanks or halters. What I’m wearing is cheaper than any of the high-tech stuff, fits my own personal style, and oh– washes and wears easily. It helps that cutting my own tank tops keeps the fabric away from the biggest sweat spigots on my body (the armpits). And so far, with proper and also minimal care, these clothes are not stinky in the least!! Let’s just say …. #youdon’tneedafancyyogashirt.
  6. Hey, don’t forget your mat! One day this past Spring I was practicing with friends and suddenly the stench got so bad I thought surely there must be a musty-mold convention going on or at least a dead animal lingering in the walls. Ah, no (or maybe yes) — it was just my neighbor’s mat. Turns out, he was sweating it out on his mat daily (without a towel to boot) then just rolling it up and storing it. So no dead zombie/creature stench, but just, you know, a tsunami of ick. So hear this: you wash your clothes that you sweat in, how about your mat? I throw some mat wash on mine from time to time (most studios have something), and hey, now that it’s summer, I roll it out and let it hang in the sun, which seems to clean it magically (of course, do not leave a natural rubber mat in the sun– again, reading is fundamental!)

So go on, sweat and slay this summer and beyond, just take some care to do it unstinkably.

  • Many thanks to Ms. Augusta Zoe Hemann, who gave me all my favorite deodorants and suggested the sea salt bar alternative. basically this whole paragraph owes itself to her!
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2 thoughts on “Do the Unstinkable: Six ways to stink less

  1. Thanks for the good advice Jean Marie. I use No Sweat for washing my yoga clothes and it is the bomb. Even my husband’s SMELLY running clothes come out stink-free. I first read about No Sweat in a previous post by you. I’m going to have to try the Himalayan salt crystal for deodorant. I haven’t found a natural deodorant that works for me.

    • Thanks Evonne. I am excited to try the salt bars too. I got that advice from Augusta in DC mysore. I loved my other salt deodorant but became confused about the potassium alum in it.
      thanks for writing in!

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