Do Artificial Fabrics Cause Body Odor?

artificial fabrics cause odor

Synthetic fabrics are popular in sportswear, so naturally, you might assume that they are effective in combating sweat and body odor. But could they be contributing to the problem?

Artificial Fabrics

Synthetics are man-made fabrics that tout all sorts of benefits from wrinkle-resistance, to fast-drying, to flexibility. Despite all these advantages, the truth is artificial fabrics stink.

Although the specific types vary in their effects, all clothes made with 100% artificial fabrics contribute to body odor. Even sportswear often lends itself to this problem.

The first issue is the lack of airflow. Many artificial fabrics simply do not breathe well. The lack of fresh air, along with dampness from sweat allows odor-causing enzymes and bacteria to thrive. As well, the low airflow prevents the armpits from cooling which causes more sweat and worsens the problem.

Another reason that artificial fabrics struggle with body odor control is incomplete sweat-wicking. The best moisture-wicking shirts quickly and completely remove and dissipate sweat into the air, preventing stains and odors. Most fully synthetic shirts, on the other hand, only wick away some sweat. They leave behind the thicker, fattier sweat - ensuring that the odor-protection won’t last long. 

To deal with incomplete wicking, synthetic materials may rely on additives that fight bacterial growth. This can irritate your skin. The additives will often wash away in the laundry machine, making the shirt less effective with each wash.

What Fabrics are Good for Body Odor Control?

To better manage sweat and b.o., look for shirts that use the right materials. Here are our recommendations on the best fabrics for body odor.


Natural fabrics are breathable and lightweight. They are proven to wick away thicker and fattier sweat that many synthetics cannot handle. This makes them a much more suitable option in contrast to artificial textiles like polyester and rayon.

Cotton is a particularly good fabric for body odor. It is the softest and most breathable fabric. Shirts made from cotton offer comfort and odor protection, even after many washes.

Even with cotton, not all types offer the same level of protection. Look to shirts that use premium cotton to get effective protection. On their own, even the best cotton shirts can’t provide the fast-drying or sweat and stain resistance of blends.

neat vs competition


Using a blend helps to get the best of both worlds. Get access to the benefits of synthetics materials without sacrificing the quality and longevity of natural fabrics. Moisture-wicking shirts with natural/artificial blends remove all layers of sweat and result in the rapid dispersion of sweat.

Spandex is an ideal synthetic material for blends, especially for controlling body odor. It allows for breathability and enhances the wicking capabilities of natural fabrics. To maximize both comfort and efficacy, it is best for the blend to be primarily natural. 

At Neat Apparel, we use a blend of 95% cotton to 5% spandex. This provides robust sweat and odor protection while maximizing comfort and breathability.

Our moisture-wicking undershirts are a great option to add to your wardrobe. They provide powerful body odor control that works underneath your outer layer, letting you wear all your favorite clothes regardless of their fabrics.

Shop the best moisture-wicking shirts and undershirts in the Neat shop!