October 05, 2004

Curious George: Why does LA make me stink? Well, not me, really... My clothes.

Okay, so I lived in Phoenix my whole life (until last week), and even when I had worked up a good sweat during the day, my clothes very rarely had any unpleasent smell. Here in LA, I walk 5 minutes to work to sit in an air-conditioned office all day, then walk home and my clothes have a distinct dirty laundry odor. Not a single day has passed here without my clothes smelling pretty bad by the end of the day. Stay with me here, but if I take my shirt off, the smell goes away. It's not on me, just my clothes. What's going on here? Is it humidity? The smog settling on my clothes? The putrid stench of rotting dreams?

  • That is really odd. I live in LA and I have never noticed a distinct odor on my clothes. Though I do smoke, so maybe I just can't smell anything anymore.
  • It could be just because LA stinks :) You migrated the wrong way, they would have to drag me kicking and screaming out of AZ. To get me to California would probably require a shootout of some sort. On Topic: maybe something in the water there you wash your clothes in? Change detergents with the move maybe? Could be your office, perhaps they have a funk in their AC system. Or a crappy system that doesn't vent stale air so well. Then again it could just be the air there, and you will get used to it in time.
  • Pivo: Nice thoughts, but everything I've worn so far was washed in Phoenix before I left, and it's not just when I go to work. I'm betting it has something to do with humidity.
  • hutta: I think you've hit the mark with your suggestion of humidity. I've spent most of my life in Denver (one of the drier climates in the country), but have spent the past decade in Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and Tel Aviv, all of which are about twice as humid as Denver (and much more so in the summer months). I've definitely noticed that in all the other cities, I would need to do laundry more often, as my clothes would acquire a musty "dirty laundry" odor that they just never did in Denver. From a logical science-y point of view, my guess would be this: In an arrid climate (Phoenix, Denver), you sweat, your clothes absorb the sweat, and the sweat evaporates from the clothing shortly thereafter. In a hellish sauna climate (Baltimore, Rangoon) you sweat (and probably more so as well, as humid cities have a higher "heat index" for comparable temperatures), your clothing absorbs the sweat, the sweat slowly begins to evaporate from the clothing as rapidly as the already moisture-saturated air will allow (hint: not very), and through the miracle of life begins to harbor large colonies of odor causing bacteria, etc. The reason your gymsocks always smell is that, trapped inside your tight comfy shoe, the humidity has no way to wick off (regardless of climate) and the bacteria kegger commences.
  • maybe it's that mysterious marine layer!
  • Holy Fuck.
  • God yes, holy fuck.
  • Holy fuck, God yes!
  • peter gabriel
  • Imagine the moment...
  • In the blood of Eden.
  • I moved to New Orleans from Cincinnati which was definately a move to more humidity, and I've definately noticed that I cannot "recycle" my clothes the way I once did before doing laundry. From what I understand, both laundry and body funk are stronger in more humid climates, where the bacteria that enhance the smells thrive more. On your clothes, the extra humidity lets the bacteria gain a foothold, where in a dry climate your clothes dried fast enough for them not to get going. In a laundry hamper, air cannot circulate, letting the bacteria grow and make the "dirty laundry" smell. Do what I do now, take more showers and do your laundry more often. No other way around it if you don't like to stink. You can also change your clothes regularly and hang them up to air, which can prevent the funk and let you wear them again.
  • It's cos it's bloody polluted.
  • How humid do you suppose Eden was? I mean, since they were naked, there wouldn't be a problem with stinky clothes.
  • Suggestion of humidity is a good one... except for the fact that, as a desert, LA is very dry. I would go with the clothes angle - sounds like it's the washing machine or dryer that stinks. Also - are your clothes getting completely dry when you dry them? If they're still a little damp, it could be a mold/mildew issue.
  • The smell associated with dirty laundry is typically due to bacterial flatus. It could be that the stress of the move, etc is causing you to perspire more than you normally would, regardless of ambient temperature or humidity. I've been to Phoenix, and the superheated dry air wicks away your normal level of perspiration. Although LA is also dry, I doubt it's as dry as Phoenix. Additional perspiration + more time for bacteria to chow down and subsequently fart out stankness seems the likely culprit. Bulk up on the speedstick and give it a couple weeks, for the stress of the move to wear off and your perspiration rate to get back to normal. Another possibility: chemical differences in the water you launder your self and your clothing in between Phoenix and LA. My mom has well water at her place, and whenever I visit overnight and shower or wash clothes there, I leave with a noticeable funk from her hard, minerally water.
  • I mean, since they were naked, there wouldn't be a problem with stinky clothes. Yeah, but you get that sweaty crotch smell building up. Ain't nothing worse than that. Worse than ass-fucking a dead celebrity, I'd say.
  • OK, so your clothes were all washed in Arizona, and you have been living in LA for a week - might be possible that they acquired funky smells, bacteria etc. in your ride from AZ to LA? In the flight? IN your suitcase?
  • MCT: Sweat would not build up, as the breeze would blow through. Sounds nice, actually. In Houston, where the himidity is notable, the clothing smell is not as bad as the bath towel smell, for me. I put ammonia in the laundry, which helps, but not for long.
  • "Another possibility: chemical differences in the water you launder your self and your clothing in between Phoenix and LA." I vote for water. I lived in LA very briefly and the water was just plain NASTY. I don't know if it will work for you, but a product called Simple Green works great on various stinks. For me anyway.
  • Also...get the hell out of LA! Don't you know it's going to fall into the ocean any day now? Of course, that might take care of your clothing problem.
  • I would be remiss if I didn't link to the following The smell of LA conversation....
  • Actually, nicola, while LA may be a desert rainfall-wise, it's still decently damp humidity-wise. Annual average relative humidity %: Phoenix, AZ: Morning: 50 Afternoon: 23 Los Angeles: Morning: 79 Afternoon: 65 (source) I stick with my claim :)