1. #1
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    Default How do you get the Man-Stink out of your bunker gear during training?

    Hey everyone,

    I work with a large VFD that receives over 25,000 calls per year. As such, we are constantly doing gear drills to keep our skills top-notch. All that is fine...however, because we are also outside in 100 degree weather fully packed up all day, my gear smells like spoiled meat deep-fried in armpit sweat...and that's before I even get near a fire.

    We do have gear extractors and professional cleaning, but remember we're training outside in 100 degree weather fully packed up...It's not really the FIRE smell or toxins that are the issue here...it's the MAN-STINK smell that is overwhelming. I'm basically looking for a spray I can hit the liner with every few days to help neutralize the human odor between formal cleanings.

    I'm looking for any suggestions you have to subdue the strong smell of "me" in there. I swear, until I'm on my air-pak I feel like I'm going to hurl.

  2. #2
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    fabreeze???

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    Wish I knew. I've come to accept the fact that every time I bunker out, I'm going to stink during and afterwards. I've got Brothers that have a funk aura 5 feet in circumference.

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    Don't know what part of the country you're in. Maybe you could save the "all day packed up training in 100 degree heat" for a cooler part of the year? Move it inside?

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    Turn your gear inside out at the end of the day so it can dry thoroughly. The stink is mostly sweat that doesn't dry properly. The truth is the only real way to get the stink out is to wash your gear.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fire49 View Post
    fabreeze???
    That's what we used in the military overseas for things like our body armor and helmets that you really couldn't wash. Also make sure your gear is well ventilated and hung so it can dry better. Poorly dried gear can also cause skin irritation and nasty rashes.

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    Wash your gear and your arse!
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    what your gears smells like is bacteria growing and spreading because it's not getting cleaned properly often enough.
    No spray will cover up the smell.
    proper cleaning and killing of the bacteria will.

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    Islandfire touches on an important point- bacteria. With some clothing, it is not possible to wash it all out with regular detergent. Back when I was wearing cotton T-shirts for my full-time work, during the summer on occasion the shirts would start to stink the moment I started sweating- even though they had been washed. And I'm not talking about end-of-the-day stink, this was nasty-doesn't-smell-like-it's-been-washed-in-3-weeks stink. The only way to get the smell out was to soak the shirts in a full washing machine tub of water with a gallon of white vinegar mixed in.

    If simply washing your gear doesn't take care of the smell, contact the manufacturer and see if a vinegar soak is OK. Or, see what they say to use...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dfelix22000us View Post
    Islandfire touches on an important point- bacteria. With some clothing, it is not possible to wash it all out with regular detergent. Back when I was wearing cotton T-shirts for my full-time work, during the summer on occasion the shirts would start to stink the moment I started sweating- even though they had been washed. And I'm not talking about end-of-the-day stink, this was nasty-doesn't-smell-like-it's-been-washed-in-3-weeks stink. The only way to get the smell out was to soak the shirts in a full washing machine tub of water with a gallon of white vinegar mixed in.

    If simply washing your gear doesn't take care of the smell, contact the manufacturer and see if a vinegar soak is OK. Or, see what they say to use...
    True, good point about the bacteria. I am not allowed to throw my gear into the washing machine - but perhaps I could take the liner out and try the white vinegar soak idea. In about 6 weeks the intense training will be over and I don't have to worry about it as much anymore...but I know i sweat at least half a gallon of nastiness into that gear last weekend alone.

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    May be an older tread but I do not care. Nor have I read the other answers so bear with me. This is old school stuff from around 1972. West Coast. Central Valley CA. We were issued just one, (1) set of turnout gear. Helmet, coat, trousers, boots. Not to be confused with uniformed gear which we had to buy ourselves and replace.

    Get a good wash tube full of very hot very soapy water. Kitchen dish soap works fine. Turn your turnouts inside out. A good stiff hand scrub brush also works. Scrub the turn outs. Rinse in fresh hot water as needed. Then turn back right side out and repeat the process. FWIW, rarely did we do this. Never became that important to us. We just stank.

    When complete just invert again inside out and hang them out to dry in the sun. The insides would dry in just a couple of hot hours, especially in the summer heat. Invert back to right side out and repeat the process. I have responded to calls with wet freshly washed turnouts. No big deal. The wetness helps cool you down in fact.

    This was before provided hoods, underwear and new type helmets or multiple sets provided.. We did not have clothes washers and dryers in the stations either. No dish washers for that matter. Eventually your turn outs would need some attention, but it was kinda off the radar way back then. Considered not important enough.

    Hope this helps kinda. Long ago and far. HB of CJ (old coot)

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    While I appreciate HB's input, a lot has changed in since 1972. There are very specific recommendations for gear washing and maintenance, and simply putting it in a bathtub full of dish soap isn't one of them. Nor is letting in dry in the sun, where the UV rays will degrade the fibers that much faster.

    We've learned why clean gear is important, especially because of the amount of carcinogens that they're holding after fires. Add to that how absorbent our skin becomes when hot and/or sweaty, and it's easy to start to understand why we're dying of cancer at three times the rate of the regular population.
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    one would also think that a large department running 25000 calls per year would have a very specific policy for cleaning their turnout gear regularly. manufacturers today have very specific requirements for maintaining their gear materials. Even most podunk small town depts understand that and have the gear cleaned/ decontaminated following manufacturers specs.

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