Fragrance releasing fabric to prevent sweaty smell

There is no escaping the foul-smelling sweaty odors that emanate during hot humid weather, in crowded transportation, after intense workout in the gym, or sometimes from stressful situations.  Now, researchers say they may have a solution to unpleasant body odor in the form of a modified cotton fabric that emits a lemony citronella aroma upon contact with sweat.

In recent years, scientists have developed smart fabrics that react to stimuli such as light, temperature or mechanical stress and respond in certain ways, such as by changing color or conducting an electrical signal. Researchers have also explored different methods to release fragrances from fabrics.

However, the researchers behind the cotton fabric developed and used two new strategies for releasing a fragrance — β-citronellol, a lemongrass-derived scent used in some insect repellants — from cotton fabric in response to sweat.

The first approach involved an odorant-binding protein (OBP) that binds to β-citronellol and other scent molecules. To the OBP, the researchers attached a carbohydrate-binding module (CBM), that binds to cotton. In their second strategy, the researchers packaged the fragrance in liposomes that displayed CBMs, which anchored the lipid carriers and their cargo to the fabric.

The team exposed the modified cotton fabrics to an acidic sweat solution, and the low pH of the simulated perspiration caused the OBP and liposomes to release β-citronellol. Comparing the two strategies revealed that the OBP released a quick burst of scent, while the liposomes showed a slower, controlled release. The liposomes could also hold more fragrance than the other approach.

The researchers said that the two strategies could prove useful for different clothing applications, such as in daily wear and in gym clothing. Hopefully, the foul-smells that are an integral part of commuting or visiting a gym will soon be a thing of the past.