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How to Never Stink Again Wearing “Performance Shirts”

This column is not meant to be taken overly serious (if the title didn’t make that clear enough). I get a lot of questions – some serious, which I’ll answer, and some completely off the wall, which my beard will answer. We’ll call these the “Ask Rob’s Beard Advice Column,” or maybe not. I decided it was time to devote a column to answer/explore this range of questions. Hopefully, you’ll learn some helpful hints, or at the very least think it’s so off the wall that you’ll never try them. And, if that’s the case, then you learned a valuable lesson – at my expense. You’re welcome!

By far the most popular outdoor/athletic/fishing shirts on the planet are the “performance” shirts. Cool-dri, dry-fit, polyester, whatever you want to call them, they’re flat out awesome. Once you wear them, you’ll ditch your boxy, uncomfortable, heavy cotton tee-shirts faster than a Kardashian goes through husbands. I’m not sure exactly how or why they’ve become so popular now, but they first came on my radar when Under Armour started blasting their brilliant “We Must Protect This House” marketing campaign. You know the one…

I love them; in fact they’re all I wear now – hot or cold, but they have one major issue.

They stink. That’s not true. They REEK!

The material making dry-fit shirts seem to produce an odiferous scent (in the armpit region) that smells like “cat urine”, “stankonia”, “vile”, and some other descriptions I can’t write in this article. So, what’s the solution? How do you justify the silky smooth, angelic feel, that combines with the cooling, smile-inducing nature of the dry-fit material to make the world’s most comfortable shirt, if it stinks? Easy. Go back a step.

Here’s my first advice for the outdoorsman and woman out there. Get rid of your deodorant. Throw it in the trash. I did 18 months ago, and I’ve never looked back. Keep in mind I’m a large mammal, most closely related to the Sasquatch family, so I don’t naturally smell like a field of petunias. I also believe it is our biological responsibility as males to grow hair – facial hair, chest hair, leg hair, you name it. This is important because I’m not an Olympian swimmer that’s shaved from head to toe, and I don’t smell like a Bed, Bath, and Bodyworks store. I’m a walking, talking, hairy, sweating machine. But, I don’t stink. And, my shirts don’t stink.

Here’s the secret.

Rubbing alcohol.

Yes, this rubbing alcohol.


I tried it as an experiment, and after a week, and then a month, and now over a year, I’ve never gone back to deodorant. I slap some rubbing alcohol on in the morning and never look back. My dry-fit shirts smell like they’re straight from the factory. My wife and daughters don’t run the other direction like I’m Shrek when I walk in the house after a day at work, fishing trip, or a workout. Here’s why it works.

You don’t stink because you sweat. You stink because of bacteria. So, kill the bacteria. Don’t mask it with some foo-foo powdered stick, destroy it with some good old fashioned bacteria napalm. BO or body odor is caused by small amounts of thioalcohols, the bacteria species in armpits. Don’t take my word for it (mainly because I’m not a doctor, I’m more of an oversized guinea pig). Check out this study presented at this year’s Society for General Microbiology’s Annual Year in the UK.

Dr. Dan Bawdon, from the University of York, worked with consumer goods company Unilever to assess 150 bacterial isolates’ ability to produce (smelly) chemical compounds known as malodorants. Bawdon and Unilever ended up identifying the genes that encode the proteins for thioalcohols, a key player in body odor, which are pungent in very small amounts. When thioalcohols were combined with bacterium Escherichia coli and grown in human sweat molecules, it resulted in body odor.

So, there you go. Advice column number one is in the books. Now, you know the science behind your body odor and how to stop it. This worked for me – and over a dozen people I know (male and female), but if you’re allergic to rubbing alcohol, or, you prefer to stink then don’t attempt this. Some of the other benefits include no more deodorant stains on your clothes and a pile of money saved from buying overpriced deodorant sticks.

PS: I’m wearing a black Cool-Dri shirt with the tarpon in the main photo in the middle of the summer. The proof is in the photo. Below is a photo in the traditional white, but I’m not afraid to wear black in the dead of summer because I trust my armpits and alcohol.

If you have any questions – serious or not serious, shoot me an email for my next “Ask Rob’s Beard, Sort of Serious Advice Column for the Outdoorsman and Outdoorswoman.” I’ll work on that title in the meantime as well.

A photo posted by Rob Chapman IV (@robchapman4) on