How To Clean Sheets That Still Smell Of Sweat

Last Updated on March 30, 2023

Do your sheets smell like your sweaty workout gear – even after you wash them?

When you change your sheets, you expect to go to bed at night into a clean and fresh-smelling bed. But that’s not always the case.

If your freshly washed laundry still smells of sweat, it’s not you, it’s your detergent. Especially if you’re washing your sheets in cold water! 

A lot of garments require cold water these days – colored fabrics, synthetic and blended materials, etc – and that is one part of the problem. The other part involves the tightly knit weaves that most sheets today use.

Do you like your high thread count sheets? So do sweat and bacteria! It all boils down to this – you’re using yesterday’s laundry detergent for today’s fabrics.


What’s the answer?

Modern detergents are still effective when it comes to stain removal. But they aren’t as effective at removing odors – particularly body odors, like sweat.

Modern washing machines and modern fabrics need modern laundry detergent! The detergent that we have found that is the most effective on the smell of sweat is HEX Performance Laundry Detergent.

a bottle of Hex Performance laundry detergent

Hex is available in a variety of scents, as well as in a non-scented fragrance-free version.

Hex detergent gets into the areas of your sheets on a molecular level. Common household detergents just can’t access these tiny crevices.

It removes stains, as well as the smell of sweat – which your current detergent might leave behind.


Why do your sheets smell like your gym clothes?

HEX Performance Laundry Detergent is meant to be used on activewear (gym clothes) that are heavily drenched in sweat, body oil, sebum, etc.

Your gym clothes stink more after a single use than a regular shirt that has been worn multiple times right?

In reality, your sheets are very similar to your gym clothes – just on a different scale of time.

Your gym clothes are worn for maybe 1 or 2 hours, sometimes even 3 for a heavy workout. During those few hours, they absorb a significant amount of sweat (and other stuff).


the sweaty armpit of a woman


You use your sheets for 8 hours a day.

And while you aren’t as active in the bed as you are in the gym – well some couples are – you still do sweat quite a bit while you sleep.

A little sweat over a long period of time adds up to a lot of sweat!

Now add up the number of days that you used those sheets between washings. And those days when you went to bed “not so fresh” and covered in grime, well your sheets absorbed all of that too!

Is it starting to make sense now?

Your sheets are just as sweaty and smelly as your gym clothes – so they need a detergent that is meant for gym clothes!


Why that sweat smell doesn’t always come out

It all has to do with the interplay between sweat, body oil, and tightly woven fabrics.

Hot water helps, but you wash many of your sheets and fabrics in cold water – which is where the root of the problem is.

The higher thread count fabrics that people love have a tight weave. The more threads a sheet maker squeezes into a square inch of fabric, the higher the thread count.


a tightly woven lavender-colored fabric


And while this tight weave is more marketable, and (sometimes) softer to the touch, it also creates a few challenges in the washing machine.

Sweat, and your body’s natural oils, also called sebum – which is sticky stuff – make their way into the tiny crevices between the threads of your sheets.

Once they get in there, bacteria start to feed on them, and the sweat stink starts to permeate the air.

Washing in hot water tends to melt away the combination of sweat and sebum – at least it used to. The problem is that detergent technology hasn’t caught up with modern fabric-weaving technology.

The tight weave provides the type of microscopic holes that even hot water and detergent can’t permeate.


laundry inside of a washing machine


And that is with hot water. The problem gets worse when you’re dealing with sheets that need to be washed in cold water.

Have you ever tried to rinse cold dirty dishes using cold water? The hardened fatty bits just stay there right?

Same with your sheets when it comes to cold water! The washing machine and your detergent get some of it out – but not all of it.

This is why your “clean” sheets have that unpleasant sweaty odor.


Why HEX Detergent is so effective

Hex Laundry Detergent is so effective at fighting sweat odors because chemically, it can penetrate the tight weaves that we see in our sheets today.

Common household detergents today are still effective at removing the majority of stains because most stains are on the surface – where the detergent still has access.

Once we get past the surface and into the tiny spaces between and within the threads – where sweat and body oils travel – your current detergent’s access gets denied.

Some detergents use heavy fragrances to cover up odors. But when that fragrance wears out, the smell of sweat returns. Hex was engineered to clean gym clothes – which get particularly sweaty and foul-smelling.

On a molecular level, Hex, which is also thinner and not as goopy as regular detergent, can go deeper into fabrics. It also has enzymes that break down the body oils that cold water washing can’t.

So what do your gym clothes and your sheets have in common? The synthetic fibers in activewear are thinner than cotton fibers and produce a tight weave.

These types of performancewear also usually have improved wicking capabilities, so their sweat absorption is higher than regular clothing.


A man running, and covered in sweat


And your sheets – while usually not made of the same types of fabrics as your gym clothes – have the same attributes.

Sheets, especially those with higher thread counts, also have a tight weave and are usually engineered to wick away sweat, so that you can sleep comfortably.

In other words, if Hex Performance Laundry Detergent will clean your dirty and smelly gym clothes, it will also clean your sheets – and get them smelling clean and fresh!


Frequently asked questions

Let’s take a look at some of the common questions that people have. Hex isn’t a household name yet, so you’re bound to have some of the same questions on your mind.


Can I use Hex detergent in a HE washing machine?

Yes, you can. You can safely use it in any type of washing machine.


Does Hex make pods?

Yes, Hex pods are available. Use 1 pod for normal loads, and 2 pods for large loads.


My towels smell as well. Will Hex work on my towels?

Yes, Hex works marvelously on towels. Hex tackles any type of gym equipment – including towels!


gym shoes, towels, and water bottle


How much Hex do I use?

Use one capful for normal loads, and two capfuls for large loads.


What are the ingredients in Hex detergent?

Hex contains a blend of water, surfactants, chelating agents, stabilizers, enzymes, and EPA Safe fragrances.


Final thoughts

The emphasis here was on sheets – and other fabrics that tend to have the smell of sweat.

If your laundry overall tends to smell funky, it might be time to clean your washing machine. We tend to think that the detergent will also clean the washing machine, but that’s actually not the case.

You’d be surprised by how much mold and mildew build up your washing machine might have.


a woman using an Affresh tablet to clean her washing machine

One thought on “How To Clean Sheets That Still Smell Of Sweat

  1. This is a great article! I have been struggling to clean sheets that still smell of sweat for months. This is the best advice I have found.

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