washing machine showing smelly and sweaty clothes

Does Sweat Smell Explained

Some people seem to think that sweat has a naturally unpleasant smell, while others find it simply salty or neutral. However, there are a few factors that can affect the way sweat smells. For example, if you eat spicy food, the compounds in the spices can be released through your sweat, making it smell stronger.

Similarly, if you smoke cigarettes, the smell of nicotine and other compounds will be present in your sweat. In general, though, sweat itself is not inherently smelly. It's only when it comes into contact with bacteria on the skin that it can start to develop an odor. So if you're worried about how your sweat smells, make sure to keep your skin clean and dry.

Smelly Sweat

Does sweat smell?

Sweat doesn’t smell. It’s a clear, odourless liquid mostly made up of water, salt, proteins and oils. The smell that we call ‘body odour’ is actually caused by bacteria.

Our body is home to millions of harmless bacteria that help the skin’s natural defenses. They survive and grow in moist, humid and nutrient-rich environments – just like our armpit areas. Bacteria feed on our sweat and metabolise it, producing by-products that have a very distinctive smell – like vinegar, cheese or onion.

What causes body odour?

What causes body odour – or BO – are the excretions from the bacteria that feed on your sweat. This is a totally natural process that starts during puberty.

How to prevent smelly sweat?

Smelly armpits and bad body odour aren’t harmful to your health, but we all know they can sometimes cause embarrassment. Making a few changes to your daily routine can improve your body odour.

Make sure to shower at least once a day, and use an antiperspirant deodorant like Shield to stay dry and fresh. Wear clean, fully dry clothes and change them regularly to stop the build-up of dry sweat or sweat patches.

Discover more about how to prevent body odour