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How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack?
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Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 14:33:53 MST Print View

I recently picked up a pack online that was purported to be new/ never used. Well, it turned out to be pretty darn used and pretty stinky, reeking of b.o. and armpit soup. Don't worry, I don't think it belonged to anyone on these forums, as it was picked up from eBay.
Anyhow, after a couple bathtub washings with detergent and a near full bottle of febreeze, I've managed to remove the odor from the back panel, hip belt, and majority of the shoulder harness. I still detect a pretty strong odor at the very bottom tip of the shoulder harness right by where it would have met the user's armpit. Normally I'd just throw it in the washing machine with a cup of white vinegar but it's awkward size and shape prevents me from doing so. I was thinking of spraying vinegar directly on the spot but am worried about any fabric bleaching or other ill effects. Are my worries unfounded?

Any other suggestions or home remedies before I need to shell out the dough to get professional odor eliminating products from mcnett?

Edited by Konrad1013 on 12/01/2011 14:35:13 MST.

J Her
(sailfast3r) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
OxyClean on 12/01/2011 15:25:39 MST Print View

OxyClean got diesel smell out. I'd give it a try.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 15:36:40 MST Print View

About a week ago I tried boiling my clothes that I could never get the stink out of no matter how much detergent or hot wash cycles it went through in the washing machine. The boiling worked. That's a lot harder with a backpack though. You have a bunch of soup kitchen size pots?

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Boiling on 12/01/2011 15:52:13 MST Print View

Thanks for the tips. Eugene, I may choose boiling as a last resort. No on the kitchen size pots, but in the past when dyeing backpacks, I've had great success using a plastic bin that I constantly filled and refilled with boiling water poured from pots heated on my stove top. Can you give me more details? How long were you boiling the shirts for?

Also, because it's only isolated to the shoulder harness straps, I bet I could just dip that portion into a pot of boiling water, without having to fulling submerge the entire back.


Edited by Konrad1013 on 12/01/2011 15:52:47 MST.

(rb0101) - F
How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 16:07:08 MST Print View

If the organic material that caused the odor is still there, then boiling will only cook the proteins and help them set in the material. That is why protein based stains are supposed to be washed on the cold cycle.

I would soak the straps in a cleaner that is oxygen or enzyme based like Oxyclean or Nature's Miracle (the stuff to clean up pet messes). Then wash/rinse in cold water to get out all the cleaner. Leaving out in sunlight will also eliminate sweat odors/stains.

If it were my backpack, I'd soak the whole thing and leave in sunlight, even if it appears the smell is gone from the rest of the pack.

If you decide to boil, let us know how that goes.

BTW, yuck.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
thanks on 12/01/2011 16:14:43 MST Print View

Thanks for bringing up those points RB. Looks like oxyclean is the best step.

Also, I agree about the Yuck...

I was walking around the city using it as a daypack just to try it out and I kept thinking...WTH is that God awful smell? And then I realized it was me, or at least my pack. And then I became extremely self-conscious. The whole experience just felt....dirty.

It reminds me of that episode of Seinfeld with the car that he couldn't sell because of the awful stench embedded in it.

I think there should be some unspoken rule that if your pack smells horrid because of your unique body characteristics, there is a duty to disclose this to potential buyers before you bestow this biological WMD on some poor victim.

(rb0101) - F
How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 16:26:10 MST Print View

I was also thinking of Seinfeld when I read your post.

Also, spraying Windex (original formula) will eliminate stains/odors on just about anything caused by just about anything [organic].

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 16:26:33 MST Print View

Boiling also denatures the proteins, which may be enough to change it into something that doesn't stick or may even release it from the material. If there happens to be body oils in the fabric, then boiling will really help get it out.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Boiling on 12/01/2011 16:28:31 MST Print View

A plastic bin filled with boiling water would probably work. When I did it, I didn't use any detergent, but that might help. I boiled it for quite some time, but that's because I was distracted. I did agitate it a few times to help get the grime out.

Karl Gottshalk
(kgottshalk) - MLife

Locale: Maine USA
"How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack?" on 12/01/2011 16:30:01 MST Print View

I know it is not "green", but a quick soak in some diluted chlorine bleach hot water always fixes this for me. I just use a big "glug" (maybe 1/4 to 1/2 cup) in a bucket of hot water. I use it for synthetic shirts, it doesn't seem to affect the color or life of the garments so far.


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 16:49:08 MST Print View

I would try soaking in baking soda/water mix.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
freezer on 12/01/2011 17:24:48 MST Print View

I would stick it in the freezer for a day or two. Seems to work on my shoes. Sounds like I need to do more research though, as I thought BO was the smell of bacterial excrement as it ingests components of your sweat. Kill the bacteria (ie with extreme temperatures), kill the source of the smell. Haven't heard of the idea of it being pure proteins.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: freezer on 12/01/2011 17:44:03 MST Print View

There are few, if any, bacteria that can live at the temperature of boiling water. An exception might be found in the geysers at Yellowstone.


odor on 12/01/2011 17:47:08 MST Print View

Ozone cannot be beat for eliminating odors.

(rb0101) - F
bacterial excrement and freezing on 12/01/2011 17:54:24 MST Print View

Yes, the bacteria that feed on the sweat release enzymes (lipases) that break the lipids in sweat into small acid molecules that smell. Bacteria are made of proteins and proteins are large "sticky" molecules that are difficult to remove. Also, lipids are difficult to wash away since they are hydrophobic.

BTW, a lot of bacteria can survive freezing. When they are reintroduced to their food source and a moist environment, they come out of dormancy and thrive again.

High heat like boiling will kill them, but the organic matter will be cooked into the material, becoming food for other organisms. Soaps made of strong bases (K-OH) will destroy cells and make them less sticky and easier to wash away, but I wouldn't wash my pack in a really strong base.

Edited by rb0101 on 12/01/2011 18:05:51 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 18:06:05 MST Print View

Well since you got most of it out, your BO is going to exterminate the existing BO, and it will soon smell like roses to you :)

Paul Siegel

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Vinegar for B.O. on 12/01/2011 20:08:57 MST Print View

In the caving community white vinegar is often used to get the cave funk out of permeable clothes.

I image you could spray vinegar on your pack and eliminate some of the b.o. by letting it evaporate.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Keeping it smelling good on 12/01/2011 21:53:55 MST Print View

I rinse my backpack suspension with a garden hose after I return from a trip. Then I spray on Sport Fabreeze, which is good for eliminating sweat smell.

Also I spray Sport Fabreeze on the inside of my down bag after a trip and let it lay in the intense Las Vegas sun for a few hours. The UV rays do kill some bacteria.

When camping I try to always have a sleeping only" shirt to keep my bag cleaner. When it's cooler I use a light polyester long john top and bottom.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack? on 12/01/2011 22:03:33 MST Print View

Borax The alkaline in it works wonders.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"How do I get the B.O. Stink out of my pack?" on 12/01/2011 22:18:21 MST Print View

Soak it in Bell's Hopslam or some diluted Modus Hoperandi, that will strip the stink right out of your pack and replace it with the scent of heaven.