Fabric that releases Fragrance When it comes in contact with Sweat

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, research brings another twist to the tale. What if there was a kind of fabric that releases fresh scents when it comes in contact with sweat? Research proves that you can have it.

We have seen clothes that repel liquid spills and dirt, dresses that can make you feel warmer or cooler depending on how hot or cold the weather is; even fabric that responds to light.

Now we are looking at a kind of dress that releases sweet fragrance when it comes in contact with your sweat. Fashion and Perfume making companies should watch out for this.

Normally, unless you have enough perfume or deodorant to cover the smell that may come out of the sweat accumulated on your clothing, it will smell bad.

But if you are putting on a dress modified with fragrance releasing substances, you will have nothing to worry about.


This is the kind of dress most needed for workouts. It is also true that some people sweat more than others. Obviously, some of us with sweating conditions are going to need this.

The authors of the paper published on ACS.org Carla Silva, Artur Cavaco-Paulo and colleagues had to develop and compare two methods of attaching fragrance on fabric, to be released when it comes in contact with sweat.

They made use of β-citronellol – lemongrass derived scent used in making some of the insect repellents we use.

One of the best discoveries in this industry has been the ability to use odorant molecules in making insect repellents.

Since some insects can be chased using certain forms of odorant molecules, you can make insect repellents with these molecules too and use them as insect repelling sprays.

To understand this better, let’s consider the scent leaf.

For those of use in the part of the world where fish is dried by exposing them to air you know you’ll have to deal with those annoying flies.

But you don’t have to work too hard if you have scent leaves. Simply placing them on the fish will chase the insects.

So going back to why insect repellents work so well if you can get the right odorant molecules (for the insects you are trying to chase,) you can make sprays with them and use them as insect repelling sprays.

How do fragrance releasing fabrics work?

So how did the researchers modify cotton materials to give up a sweet smell when it contacts sweat?

They tried two methods.

The first was by using Carbohydrate-binding module (CBM) to attach odorant-binding protein (OBP) to cotton.

The second method involved packaging the fragrance in liposomes, then attaching them to the fabric.

But before we try to see exactly how this works, let us have a simple understanding of how we get to smell.

How Smelling Works

The smell released from the environment comes to us by odorant molecules. In the human olfactory system, we have a protein called odorant-binding protein (OBP).

This protein binds to the odorant molecules dispersed from our environment, and transports them to our olfactory receptors located in the sensory neurons found in the olfactory epithelium in the nose. - NCBI

The sensory neurons here can then produce unique electrical signals which are sent to the brain for interpretation.

man smelling
Mmmm!

Now that you have an idea of how smelling works, let us see how the researchers were able to attach sweet-smelling fragrance to clothing, to be released when the fabric comes in contact with sweat.

In the first method, odorant-binding protein (OBP) from pig’s nose was used. This OBP binds to β-citronellol and other odorant molecules. The researchers then attached them to fabric using a carbohydrate-binding module (CBM).

In the second method, they packaged the fragrance, the β-citronellol in CBM displaying liposomes and attached them to the fabric.

It's time to test the modified fabric

The modified cotton materials were exposed to acidic sweat solution and they released the β-citronellol as they made contact with the sweat solution.

However, it was observed that the OBP released its fragrance with a quick burst and the liposome released its packaged scent in a slower, controlled manner.

The method involving the use of liposomes also allowed the use of more fragrance than that of the OBP.

According to the researchers, this does not make one method better or more useful than the other.

We can make the most of these two approaches by being able to apply them in situations or clothing where their fragrance release mechanism would work best.

Now we won’t have to worry about walking home with a bad odor after exercising. We may no longer need to use perfumes on farm clothing and sporting accessories.

And with the ability to use insect repelling odorant molecules, we may be able to produce mosquito repelling night wears.

Source: ScienceDaily

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