8 Reasons Why Your Leggings Smell So Bad

Photographed by Danny Kim.
Don’t be embarrassed. It’s not just you. It’s been documented in a Reddit thread. Tide has picked up on it, creating an ad that is even more oblique than tampon commercials, promising that its Odor Defense Collection will deal with your "yoga aroma."
It’s that crotch smell, which for some reason seems to be amplified by stretchy yoga pants and leggings. And because we wear stretchy pants everywhere (thanks, athleisure), it’s becoming somewhat of an urgent problem. "In focus-group interviews, women have said that’s a place where smell in clothing is particularly bad," says professor Rachel McQueen of the University of Alberta, who studies how textiles develop and retain smell.
Yes, sometimes it could be caused by a yeast infection or something else funky going on with your nether region. If it’s particularly fishy in nature, go visit your OB/GYN. But more likely, you’re completely healthy and normal — it’s just the pants that are the problem.
"There is so little known about the science of it," says McQueen. "The mechanism of odor from humans is so complex. There might be research going on in-house [at textile manufacturers), but it’s all quite confidential." (Male textile researchers wouldn’t return my emails on the topic of vagina odor in textiles. Can’t imagine why.)
Professor McQueen focuses mainly on underarm odor, and she says research is scant, but she did have some hypotheses and tips to share.

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