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A delicate subject

fitoldbloke

Long legs in the morning
Year of past OR future Camino
2008 (2016)
Of course I will be showering every day, and using my crystal deodorant (a little last a long time) but from past experience it can be difficult to get walking clothing washed effectively and dried sufficiently, with the potential for body odour. Sure, this is the Camino and we put up with such things, but ...

I've never previously shaved my underarms. Will getting rid of hair help to reduce the potential for body odour? And what will be the likely impact on my clothing?

My head hair will be cut short, if only to make general care and after-shower drying easier
 
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Stephen

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Twice walked from St Jean to Estella and once from Sarria to Santiago. Maybe someday I'll find the time to do the entire walk.
I've found the time. Just completed SJPP to Santiago. 25 Aug to 1st Oct, 2016.
And now the Portuguese from Lisbon.
No need to go overboard with the personal hygiene. A shower once a day would be more than enough.
 
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bunnymac

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2012 SJPP-Logrono, 2013 Logrono-Burgos, 2014 Burgos-Leon
CF August/September 2016 SJPP- Santiago
Of course I will be showering every day, and using my crystal deodorant (a little last a long time) but from past experience it can be difficult to get walking clothing washed effectively and dried sufficiently, with the potential for body odour. Sure, this is the Camino and we put up with such things, but ...

I've never previously shaved my underarms. Will getting rid of hair help to reduce the potential for body odour? And what will be the likely impact on my clothing?

My head hair will be cut short, if only to make general care and after-shower drying easier
Don't worry about it. Re drying clothes: if you pin your washed clothes on the outside of your pack as you walk, they dry well. You can also do this with your layers as you remove them. Rather than stuffing them in your pack, they get a chance to air. And yes, you will look like he king of motley by about day six.
 
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Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I understand one's body odour is caused by the pherenomes one secretes, and has little to do with the presence or absence of underarm hair.

Keep it, but the downside is that you won't have that ripped look lazing around in the alburgues during the afternoons catching the sun with your shirt off;).
 
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Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Year of past OR future Camino
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
I had to do a double take to see if this was a girl or fellow asking ...
Shaving your underarms? For heaven's sake! Of course you must - and your legs and chest [don't mention your pubes].
"My head hair will be cut short" - mate, you're just lucky to HAVE any head hair.
Like you, I shower regularly - at least once a fortnight if I'm staying in albergues: you've got to think of the other peregrinos.
I'm off in six days walking the Finisterre route [be warned, all other pilgrims :)]
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
Of course I will be showering every day, and using my crystal deodorant (a little last a long time) but from past experience it can be difficult to get walking clothing washed effectively and dried sufficiently, with the potential for body odour. Sure, this is the Camino and we put up with such things, but ...

I've never previously shaved my underarms. Will getting rid of hair help to reduce the potential for body odour? And what will be the likely impact on my clothing?

My head hair will be cut short, if only to make general care and after-shower drying easier
My kids laugh at me, but I do believe that hanging clothes to dry in the sun (I am from the tropics) is a good way of getting rid of odours that don't seem to come out during ordinary washing. You could try that (hang your clothes on your pack) if you are really concerned, but I wouldn't worry too much about it.

As to underarm odour, in addition to your crystal, you could try a good rub every now and again with bicarbonate of soda, commonly known as baking soda (not baking powder). Of course, this will increase your shower time so you may need to choose your times carefully. My grandmother taught me this baking soda technique.
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
Oh, yes for sure. Shave it. This way, when walking your armpits will be sore, your growning hairs will be infected and maybe, if lucky enough, you will need to quit. This way, you will not annoy any other pilgrims with your body odour. :p
Take daily showers, change your clothes daily too ( if possible), wash them as frequently as you can..and enjoy. Probably no other pilgrim could smell your sweat, odor. Their´s own odor will prevent of it. ;)
 
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PEI_Heather

Canadian Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 - Voie de la Nive
2012, 2016 - Frances
2013 - Portuguese
2012, 2013 - Finesterre & Muxia
I had to do a double take to see if this was a girl or fellow asking ...
Shaving your underarms? For heaven's sake! Of course you must - and your legs and chest [don't mention your pubes].
"My head hair will be cut short" - mate, you're just lucky to HAVE any head hair.
Like you, I shower regularly - at least once a fortnight if I'm staying in albergues: you've got to think of the other peregrinos.
I'm off in six days walking the Finisterre route [be warned, all other pilgrims :)]

Bwahahahaha! Oh Stephen, you keep me laughing, bud! Thanks for the mid-day pick-me-up! (The tea just isn't enough, haha!)
 

alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Listed in my signature
If you're able to launder your clothes in a washing machine every week or so, that will go a long way in removing the lingering smell in your hand-washed clothes. Most walkers have a particular 'fragrance' during the day, but there isn't much excuse to smell after your shower. So you might consider bringing along an extra shirt just for evening wear, which should stay "fragrance-free" for a long time.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
I'm fairly sure I've read on this forum that synthetic clothing will smell after a while, and that regular washing will not get the smell out. That has not been my personal experience, and no one can, or will, confirm this about my own synthetic clothing. I hardly think I am less odiferous than the next person but, if my synthetic garments - even after washing - smell after a while someone needs to tell me. @fitoldbloke, our OP, you sound like a considerate fellow. If you shower and wash your clothes regularly (perhaps more often than once every two weeks ;)) I'm sure you need not worry. Go and enjoy your camino....and don't shave your underarms!
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
By all means, don't shave, but you might try a lightweight merino wool t shirt as a base layer. Merino wool has a reputation for not absorbing human odors and is discussed in numerous threads on this forum. Most of us find it very comfortable, and, if lightweight, it will dry overnight. Don't try pinning it to your pack, however, as lightweight merino wool is fairly fragile.
 

HeidiL

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2004-), Portugués, Madrid, 4/5 Plata, 1/8 Levante, 1/8 Lana, Augusta, hospitalera Grado.
There is frequently a bottle of cheap vinegar in albergue kitchens. A large splash of that in the water you soak your synthetics in really helps to reduce odours. Can also be used in the washing machine (in the normal wash cycle or pre-wash) - the vinegar smell may still be there when the clothes are wet, but will disappear as they dry.
 
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belladonna

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Starting on my 63rd b-day this year. My first Camino!
Of course I will be showering every day, and using my crystal deodorant (a little last a long time) but from past experience it can be difficult to get walking clothing washed effectively and dried sufficiently, with the potential for body odour. Sure, this is the Camino and we put up with such things, but ...

I've never previously shaved my underarms. Will getting rid of hair help to reduce the potential for body odour? And what will be the likely impact on my clothing?

My head hair will be cut short, if only to make general care and after-shower drying easier
Dear One,

A washrag in a plastic bag, some liquid washing soap (or a bar) will allow you to refresh every day if you need extra self care. Don't shave. It is suggested that men even grow a beard before the camino to get used to the feel of it. Not comfy to walk around with stubble. You are what you eat :) Buen camino.
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
Double endorsements on the merino base layer, the evening shirt, the weekly washing in a machine, and the vinegar.

The reason tech clothes tend to build up funk is in part due to them providing excellent conditions for retaining proteins that natural bacteria on our bodies feed on and produce off odors. Using fabric softeners often makes it worse because they coat the proteins and make them even harder to wash off. Also, any general washing that is hard on the fabric (e.g. high heat washing or drying) will further increase surface area for protein build up. Thus, when regular washing and vinegar can't keep the stink at bay, a several hour soak in an enzymatic detergent (e.g. Resolve / Spray and Wash) can work wonders followed by a good wash.

With machine washing after every wear (about 20 total wears and washed per garment), we finished our Camino without recourse to Resolve, but I carried a small packet as a "just in case" soak treatment (I walked with my teenage son at the height of his BO surge, and this old man only has so much tolerance).
 
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Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
The reason tech clothes tend to build up funk is in part due to them providing excellent conditions for retaining proteins that natural bacteria on our bodies feed on and produce off odors. Using fabric softeners often makes it worse because they coat the proteins and make them even harder to wash off. Also, any general washing that is hard on the fabric (e.g. high heat washing or drying) will further increase surface area for protein build up. Thus, when regular washing and vinegar can't keep the stink at bay, a several hour soak in an enzymatic detergent (e.g. Resolve / Spray and Wash) can work wonders followed by a good wash.

Thanks for this info @koilife. If you are correct here, this goes a long way in explaining to me why I've never noticed an odour to my technical clothing; I don't use fabric softeners, I don't wash in hot water and, until very recently, I've managed without a dryer.
 
Silver Oxide Camino de Santiago pendent
Camino de Santiago pendant that has a shell on the front, and "Camino de Santiago" engraved on the back. Comes with a black cord. Pendent is slightly larger than a 50 euro cent coin, about 25mm.
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susanawee

susanawee
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances-(2013/14/18
Camino Salvado Perth -(2015)
West Highland Way (2016)
Lyon France 2017
I don't think that you have to worry about body hair at all. It is our clothes which absorb perspiration - yes, we wash our clothes as much as we can during our walk but our packs and some of the jackets we wear frequently also absorb the smell - after a while, we don't notice this ourselves but other people do, particularly at the end of the Camino when we are no longer in Camino mode, but, we still have to carry our packs and wear our clothes home......it is then that I become very aware of just how bad my gear smells.
 

Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
There is always this talk of smelly clothes. :D I can honestly say that during my 40 days of walking only twice did I notice any unpleasant odours emanating from peregrinos. Once was while walking through a dormitorio, the only way out of the albergue, before any of the windows had been opened (my goodness, what a breath of fresh air from a cracked window would have done!). The second was a peregrino sitting at an adjacent table one morning at breakfast in O Cebreiro; he looked clean enough, but his shirt could not have been clean!
 

fitoldbloke

Long legs in the morning
Year of past OR future Camino
2008 (2016)
Thanks everyone for all the considered responses. I'm working hard to keep clothing weight down (to compensate for the weight of the meds!!) so had decided that this time I'd just have three man-made "running" shirts: I reckon I can get three days out of each before they need washing, so wash two and wear one. However following your advice I have looked out my evening shirt - the question I now have is which albergues have starch and irons so I can keep it looking smart, and would it be acceptable to wear it without the black bow tie before the end of dinner, or should I wait until after dinner before discarding the tie?
 

Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
Thanks everyone for all the considered responses. I'm working hard to keep clothing weight down (to compensate for the weight of the meds!!) so had decided that this time I'd just have three man-made "running" shirts: I reckon I can get three days out of each before they need washing, so wash two and wear one. However following your advice I have looked out my evening shirt - the question I now have is which albergues have starch and irons so I can keep it looking smart, and would it be acceptable to wear it without the black bow tie before the end of dinner, or should I wait until after dinner before discarding the tie?
Dont worry about it. The camino is a very informal stage. You can wear your shirt although not perfectly ironed as long as the tie you wear stay starched, your patent leather shoes bright, and your tie pin shining. :)
 
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Pingüigrino

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances, Aragones, Vasco del Interior, Baztanes. (Frances Winter, La Plata, Camino de Invierno, Mozarabe, Norte, Primitivo.)
P

Pabloke

Guest
Double endorsements on the merino base layer, the evening shirt, the weekly washing in a machine, and the vinegar.

The reason tech clothes tend to build up funk is in part due to them providing excellent conditions for retaining proteins that natural bacteria on our bodies feed on and produce off odors. Using fabric softeners often makes it worse because they coat the proteins and make them even harder to wash off. Also, any general washing that is hard on the fabric (e.g. high heat washing or drying) will further increase surface area for protein build up. Thus, when regular washing and vinegar can't keep the stink at bay, a several hour soak in an enzymatic detergent (e.g. Resolve / Spray and Wash) can work wonders followed by a good wash.

Well said. Fabric softener can ruin technical cothes in many ways.

People should pay attention at those albergues where laundry is made by hospitaleros as some use softener.

Also, the detergents mostly used don't use to be enzymatic (which is a good thing as many people wear wool clothes).

Laundry should be more than just cleaning if we want to keep all of our clothe's attributes.
 
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Anemone del Camino

Guest
Last year we were having a late night drink with the hospitalero and some locals in a bar in Tardajos. I asked the locals if they thought pilgrims smell. They all said yes! Not a horrible smell, they said, but distinctive!

Davey
That's only because we don't pour a bottle of cologne on ourselves after our shower!

Had my first experience along the langosteria beach yesterday, smelling the person who was coming my way from a good 5 meters away, if not 10! The scent overtook the scent of the seawater...
 

koilife

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF w/ son #1 (2013); Logrono-Leon/Salvador/Primitivo w/ son #2 (2016); Portugues w/ son #3 (2020)
Last year we were having a late night drink with the hospitalero and some locals in a bar in Tardajos. I asked the locals if they thought pilgrims smell. They all said yes! Not a horrible smell, they said, but distinctive!
The smell of money coming into the local economy?
Had my first experience along the langosteria beach yesterday, smelling the person who was coming my way from a good 5 meters away, if not 10! The scent overtook the scent of the seawater...
Such a delightful beach to sit and watch the pilgrims go by. We saw a half dozen or so that we knew from the Camino Frances, so it was an extended reunion all afternoon.
 

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