We all know the feeling of walking into a locker room and being hit with that smell. You know, the dirty socks and body odor smell that infects the whole space, no matter how frequently you clean. The smells and odors that hang around your locker room are more than a stinky nuisance – they’re often warning signs of serious microbial growth that could make you sick.
Why does your gear smell?
Obviously, any athletic exertion makes you sweat – a lot. However, you might be surprised that it’s not really sweat that causes odor, but the reactions that occur after. When you sweat, your skin releases fats, oils, and other compounds that germs will feed on and use to grow into larger colonies. As the pathogens feed and break down these compounds, the process results in the stinky, funky odor of sweat that we all recognize in locker rooms.
Bacteria that primarily live on the skin, like Staphylococcus aureus and C. difficile, are some of the most likely bacteria to cause that locker room stench. When gear is left unsanitized, these bacteria can grow to cause serious skin, blood, and gastrointestinal infections. And while less common, you run the risk of Corynebacterium, which causes diphtheria. The smell is the result of enzymes and toxins that the bacteria use to break down compounds in your skin. Often these very same toxins cause the symptoms of bacterial infections.
Sweat also makes your gear quite wet, opening the door to fungal growth and infections. When a sweaty pair of socks or shoulder pads aren’t allowed to completely dry, the moist conditions can allow mold and mildew growth. In fact, the most common sign of mold growth is a prevailing “stinky socks” odor. Mold can be incredibly dangerous, especially to athletes’ respiratory systems. It can cause a variety of symptoms from a cough all the way up to the development of asthma. And while less dangerous, annoying fungi like Candida and Ringworm (athlete’s foot) thrive in humid, sweaty environments and often result in musty, stale odors and irritating skin lesions.
Germs in the Locker Room
Locker rooms are filled with humidity and shared gear, making them the perfect breeding ground for several types of bacteria, viruses, and mold. On top of the humidity, locker rooms store next to nothing but sweaty, pungent athletic gear.
To make matters worse, athletes often shove their smelly gear into a bag and then shove the bag into their locker. There, the bacteria continue to feed and produce more stench while also increasing the risk of disease.
Not only does this make your locker room an unpleasant place to gear up for a big game, but it also makes it dangerous. When teams don’t have enough gear to go around or when athletes train with the same equipment, germs can easily pass from athlete to athlete or even infect the entire team. Without proper sanitation practices, your gear has the potential to spread deadly pathogens, like staph, Covid, or even MRSA.
Can you treat odor and germs all in one?
Athletic gear can be incredibly difficult to clean and disinfect. For one, teams need their gear to last for several seasons, but typical liquid sanitizers can weaken the material over time. When shoulder pads, helmets, and other gear have shorter shelf lives, the cost of new gear quickly eats away at already tight athletic budgets.
Also, the gear never feels completely fresh, usually still carrying a stale, sweaty scent. This could be because of how difficult it is to reach the nooks and crannies where sweat builds up with traditional cleaning techniques. If the toes of cleats or the inside of baseball gloves harbor sweat and bacteria, you’ll catch a whiff of lingering odors even after careful cleaning.
Thankfully, there’s a better way. Sports-O-Zone can quickly sanitize and refresh everything from shoulder pads to cleats to mascot costumes using the power of ozone. Ozone is more powerful than bleach and doesn’t require liquid cleansers that can weaken gear. Instead of leaving gear stale and only slightly less odorous, Sports-O-Zone completely refreshes gear and leaves behind a clean, spring rain scent. Your gear, locker room, and athletes will smell better and feel safer when you sanitize with Sports-O-Zone.
Ready to freshen up your team’s odorous locker room? Get in touch for a quote.