Dance Floor Hygiene: Dress To Stay Fresh

sweaty face

We all sweat when we dance, and some of us sweat more easily — and profusely — than others. There's nothing wrong with that — in fact, sweating is good for you. It opens up pores to release toxins and regulates body temperature. 

If you are prone to excessive sweating, you're generally well aware of it and can easily manage by bringing a towel or a handkerchief and a few extra shirts to change into.

Body odor on the other hand is often a bit more tricky, it's less obvious, and more taboo. Many times it's not visible — sometimes it only takes a slight dampness of the skin to create a foul smell. Worst of all, the offender is often the last one to notice, or might not even notice at all.

While your hygiene, the food you eat, your environment and your genes are all of great influence, the major determining factor to your body odor is the specific bacterial species in your armpit. If you took an extremely close look at your armpit, you'd notice that a lot of bacterias reside there. In fact, there are more bacteria in your armpits than there are humans on this planet!

Most of the bacteria are "good", non-smelly bacterias, but some of the bacteria breaks the sweat down to strong smells. 

tango hygene

If you sweat moderately, you might have more of a problem with body odor than people who sweat a lot. That's because, when people sweat excessively, the sweat (which is virtually odorless) tends to wash away the odor-causing bacteria.


Bacteria hearts Polyester

Synthetic fabric like polyester has become popular because it’s lightweight and fast-drying; qualities that in many ways are ideal for us dancers. But synthetics are also notorious for getting rank - fast & furiously.

According to new research by Chris Callewaert it turns out that the composition of clothing fibers promotes differential growth of textile microbes that determines odor generation. The malodorous bacteria 'Micrococcus' thrives on synthetic fibers like polyester, by munching on the long-chain fatty acids in our sweat, turning them into shorter, stinkier molecules. 

Because these odor-causing bacteria prefer to hang out on polyester, it's a good idea to check the tags of your dance gear accordingly.

The great moisture management of breathable materials helps reduce general bacteria growth,  A test from 2004 shows that synthetic fibers, carries up to 2000 times more bacteria than breathable fibers.


Laboratory study of bacterial growth on textiles: B. Redl, Medical University Innsbruck, Austria, 2004

Manufacturers have tried to make polyester fabric less bacteria friendly by treating it with antimicrobials like silver nanoparticles or triclosan. Both products have been criticized as having potentially negative impacts on the environment, and there are few data on how they might affect the wearer.


Moisture Control

Your best bet to stay dry and/or odor free is to look for fabrics that are considered 'breathable'. By definition, breathable fabrics are those that are composed of unique fibers able to transport moisture from one side to the other. So, as the body sweats, the fabric allow the moisture to move outside the garment. In essence, the fabric breathes. Synthetic materials don't take in moisture at all, but leave a bacteria ridden film on the skin’s surface. 

dance wear


  • Corduroy
  • Flannel
  • Polyester
  • Polyester blends
  • Nylon
  • Acetate
  • Silk**


  • 100% Cotton
  • Pima cotton
  • Linen
  • Modal*
  • Tencel*                                   
  • Bamboo*
  • Seersucker
  • Cashmere
  • Wool

*In humidity, pulp-based fabrics like Modal, Tencel & Bamboo absorbs moisture even better than cotton.

**Though considered breathable, silk can’t withstand constant moisture, which means that someone who sweats a lot is going to need to wring out his shirt several times a day.


Choose Colors That Hide Sweat Marks

Ironically, fabrics that are well-known for being breathable and keeping you cool are also the ones that show sweat marks and the fabrics that traps bacteria very well, hide sweat marks. While 100% Cotton is a good breathable fabric - it will show sweat like crazy.

The winning combination is choosing the right type of fabric AND the right color of fabric. Luckily for us, a wonderful color to wear when dancing is black. Black hides underarm sweat better than any other color. Here are some other color tips to help when selecting your dance wear:

Colors that do NOT hide sweat

Bright colors

Colors that hide sweat

Dark Colors like Navy
Patterns & Prints


Bonus Tips

tango wear
  • First of all, keep yourself squeaky clean. Always shower before going dancing and you'll wash away sweat as well as reduce the number of bacteria on your skin.

  • Once you've showered, be sure you dry yourself completely. If your skin is dry, it's harder for bacteria that cause body odor to breed on it.

  • Always allow time for deodorant/antiperspirant to dry before putting on your clothes, and only apply to dry skin. 

  • Foods that tend to make you sweat more, such as hot peppers or other spicy foods, might also contribute to body odor. And the aroma of foods such as onions or garlic can be carried in the sweat, making you smell bad. Drinks with caffeine or alcohol may also cause you to sweat more.

  • Even though it sounds counterintuitive, adding layers of clothing can help disguise excessive sweating. And the key is focusing on the innermost and outermost layers of your wardrobe.

  • Loose-fitting undershirts (100% cotton) leave room for air to circulate against the skin, preventing clothes from becoming drenched. (Keep an extra undershirt handy so you can change into a fresh undershirt as needed.)

  • Tough sweat stains? Soak garments in cold water before washing. If that’s not enough, try adding a ¼ cup of white vinegar into a cold water wash. 
  • Drying your clothes on the warm-hot cycle will cause any stains to turn darker and set in deeper.

Good Luck & Stay Cool

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