Stale, musty, and sweaty. We all know the smell. But where does it come from and is there anything you can do?
DON’T BLAME THE SWEAT
When someone says a room smells sweaty, they’re wrong. Sweat itself is odorless.
But bacteria and fungi, which are everywhere, feed off the nutrients in sweat and generate gases as a natural metabolic by-product. You can try and dry the clothes hanging in the lockers, increase the air flow in the room, even mask the smell with fragrances, but until you kill the root-cause microorganisms (disinfect), the smell will return within hours.
And they don’t discriminate. You’ll find these germs growing inside a footballer’s helmet, or inside a basketball player’s shoes, inside the gloves of a baseball player, and of course, on everyone’s clothing.
DRYING THE SWEAT SLOWS DOWN GERM GROWTH
Reducing the amount of moisture reduces the source of nutrients for the germs, slowing their growth.
Some modern lockers now push forced air through each locker to dry the items stored inside. This is commonly performed at night because the sound of dozens of locker fans all running at once can be uncomfortable.
The most sophisticated lockers are even custom-designed to direct the air flow specific to the unique needs of the sport, such as helmets, shoulder pads, shoes etc. These lockers are the most effective at drying gear.
Removing the moisture slows down the rate of microbial growth, just as refrigerating food makes it spoil slower. But given enough time, food still spoils. This is because we have only slowed down the growth of what is already present, but we have not killed it. The same is true with the locker contents – to remove the smell we need to dry and disinfect at the same time.
DISINFECTING AIR KILLS THE GERMS AND THE SMELL
EPIC iO AURA is a whole-room disinfection appliance that runs at night, filling the entire locker room with a disinfecting atmosphere, which kills the bacteria, fungi, and viruses on all exposed surfaces. When combined with a forced-air locker system, the disinfecting air will safely pass through each locker space, sanitizing all the gear, and killing the source of all the odors.
Experiments have shown that even without forced air lockers, lockers with vent holes in them are still treated by the EPIC iO AURA, removing odors from the room. These are the styles of lockers that are most commonly installed today
SAFE ON EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHES
EPIC iO AURA is safe on delicate and precious material surfaces because it uses such dilute doses of disinfectant. However, the long overnight exposure time means the germ-kill rate remains effective. This low and slow disinfection method is also dry, unlike foggers and electrostatic sprayers that rely on even more water, which adds to the already high moisture problem.
KNOWING WHEN IT IS SAFE TO RE-ENTER
When EPIC iO AURA ends its nightly disinfection cycle, it monitors the room as the disinfectant dissipates over a couple of hours, transforming back into pure, fresh oxygen. A typical cycle starts soon after housekeeping has vacuumed and mopped, often about 11 p.m. The cycle ends a couple of hours before people need to re-enter in the morning, so it typically stops at around 3 a.m.
It’s safe to say that very few locker rooms smell nice. But freshness is absolutely achievable when locker rooms combine EPIC iO AURA whole-room disinfection with forced-air locker driers, to remove the sweat and actively kill the bacteria, mold, and mildew that produce the locker room smell with which we are all too familiar.
And for lockers that have not yet been upgraded to forced air systems, as long as they have vents, the disinfecting air will reach inside and you will be able to tell the difference after one night.
For more information on how you can transform your locker room so that it smells fresh and is a healthier environment for your athletes and staff, contact us at epicio.com.