Development of a Novel Test Method to Collect and Detect Axillary Odor within Textiles

Yin Xu, Rachel H. McQueen, Wendy V. Wismer


A preliminary study to guide development of a new method to generate and detect axillary odor in vitro was based on the incubation of ‘fresh’ sweat solution on fabrics and compared to the in vivo wear trial method. Samples of cotton and polyester knit fabrics, untreated and antimicrobial-treated with polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) or zinc pyrithione (ZP), were sewn into the axillary area of T-shirts worn during vigorous exercise or incubated with composite sweat solutions from exercise participants. A trained sensory panel used a 150 mm line scale to measure odor intensity of fabric samples following wear or incubation with sweat solution. Compared with the in vivo wear trial method, the in vitro method allowed a comparison of a greater number of fabrics in a single session and limited intrapersonal and interpersonal variability in human participant odor intensity. Despite some inconsistencies between the methods, the in vitro method has potential applications for screening and evaluating textiles in a controlled laboratory environment. The addition of a trained panel sensory evaluation of odor intensity to the assessment of antimicrobial efficacy was found to be beneficial for the evaluation of antimicrobial treatments designed to reduce malodor within clothing.

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