Biological and Chemical Processes that Lead to Textile Malodour Development

Microorganisms. 2020 Oct 31;8(11):1709. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms8111709.


The development of malodour on clothing is a well-known problem with social, economic and ecological consequences. Many people still think malodour is the result of a lack of hygiene, which causes social stigma and embarrassment. Clothing is washed more frequently due to odour formation or even discarded when permastink develops. The malodour formation process is impacted by many variables and processes throughout the textile lifecycle. The contact with the skin with consequent transfer of microorganisms, volatiles and odour precursors leads to the formation of a distinctive textile microbiome and volatilome. The washing and drying processes further shape the textile microbiome and impact malodour formation. These processes are impacted by interindividual differences and fabric type as well. This review describes the current knowledge on the volatilome and microbiome of the skin, textile and washing machine, the multiple factors that determine malodour formation on textiles and points out what information is still missing.

Keywords: malodour; permastink; skin microbiome; textile odour; volatilome.

Publication types

  • Review