Protect Clothes from Sweat on a Bike Commute

Cycling + Protect Clothing From Sweat

When I first started cycling, how to protect clothes from sweat on a bike commute was one mystery among many. I was especially worried about odors being trapped (Ew!) in clothes that I would wear all day. It’s a legit question, because most of us just wear our regular clothes for around-town cycling. That’s the way it should be. Easy peasy.

So, I remembered that my mom and grandmother, both of whom sewed, always stitched cotton garment shields into dresses that they made or bought. Sewn-in shields extend the life of clothes by preventing perspiration stains and deodorant marks. But for the active pursuit of cycling, I wanted protectors that 1) are removable and washable, 2) shield my clothes from perspiration and 3) help save on dry cleaning silks, woolens and other fine fabrics that I wear more frequently during the fall and winter. Call it a base layer, but not the kind sold in a bike shop.

protect clothes from sweat on a bike commute

I found my solution on a website that, among other things, helps people who suffer from excessive sweating. It’s a lightweight, washable, bolero-style garment (top photo) that’s worn over a bra.

Sure, it may not be the sexiest piece of lingerie, but its lacy retro charm and abiding practicality are hard to deny.

Absorbent underarm shields, constructed of soft cotton with a vinyl barrier, are sewn in to guard your tops, blouses and dresses from sweat, chalky deodorant marks and fabric stains. Sure, it may not be the sexiest piece of lingerie, but its lacy retro charm and abiding practicality are hard to deny. You can remove it when you reach your destination. At the end of the day, toss it into the laundry hamper and hang your silk blouse back into the closet for another day’s wear. Your pocketbook will thank you.

The bolero is the fullest-coverage style of many available garment shield options, which include more streamlined, strappy versions as well as disposables that attach to your clothing. I also own several of the strapped versions for wear with blouses and dresses made of sheer fabrics. All are well-made and durable and have long since repaid my investment.

By the way, Kleinert’s, the Alabama-based maker of these protective undies has been around since the late 19th century; in other words, long before anti-perspirants came on the scene. The company also originated a couple of other highly practical protectants against moisture: the shower curtain and the bathing cap.

Top: Kleinert’s Stretch Lace Valera, beige, white and black, available in plus sizes, $18.50 

Photo: Top, Murillo de Paula on Unsplash, above, velojoy

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