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What’s behind the smell of dirty laundry?

The unpleasant odor of dirty laundry is a familiar smell to any human who wears clothing, but what actually causes that foul stench? Researchers have found that the reason for your smelly pile of laundry is the gases released by bacteria breaking down the skin cells, sweat, and other bodily fluids left on your clothing, Discovery reports. After giving volunteers clothes to wear, brave researchers smelled the dirty clothing to rank its smelliness and analyzed it with a spectrometer to see what volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found on them, according to a paper published last week in the Journal of Chromatography A. The scientists found six VOCs on the clothing, and also noted that washing the clothes in an environmentally friendly manner (with cold water and unscented detergent) reduced, but did not eliminate the presence of the noxious gases.

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