Hoffman's Houston
no wash, no problem?

Ken Hoffman uncovers the dirty side of travel with no-wash clothing

Ken Hoffman uncovers the dirty side of travel with no-wash clothing

Unbound Merino shirt travel
Shirtmaker Unbound Merino claims you can wear its tee for 12 days without washing.  UnboundMerino.com

Several years ago, I wrote a column upon my return from vacation, and mentioned one of my ploys for traveling light and bringing back souvenirs for my increasingly ungrateful friends.

While packing, I would throw my oldest socks and underwear in my bag. During visits to innocent lands, I would toss my underwear and socks in the trash each day along the route. This created room in my bag for cheap gifts (that’s all they deserve) and packages of spaghetti, the good stuff from Italy. I’m worth it.

Ugly move?
Surprisingly, at least to me, some readers were horrified by this practice. Some thought I was being a rude, ugly American to maids who prepared the room after I left; some said I was being wasteful. I simply thought I was being practical and resourceful. 

While I don’t wear a different Pierre Cardin suit to work each day, I do purchase quality underwear. I get Hanes, the nine-pack of boxer briefs, with “three free extra,” the from Target. They occasionally go on sale for $15. I like boxer briefs because they provide a little extra comfort and warmth when I play tennis. Plus I think tighty whities look silly on grownups. Boxers I never wore, too loose, no support and who knows what’s going on down there?

By leaving my underwear in hotels, it forces me to buy a new supply each year. I think that makes internal fashion sense. Again, no Pierre Cardin, but I’m not going to wear ratty underwear with so many holes that only the elastic band survives and they become perilously close to being a thong. I’m not a thong guy.

Magic socks
However, my strategy of leaving a trail of underwear travel may be changing. Recently I received an email from the MP Magic Socks company, asking if I’d like to try their product. The MP Magic Socks guarantee? You can wear them for six straight days without washing!

The public relations pitch writer said, “Travel can be dirty business — literally. On the go through airports, subway stations, city streets, urban parks, hiking trails, public restrooms — sometimes all in the same day. Who has time for pesky things like showering and changing clothes? I admit to times on the road where I may have worn the same clothes for a couple (or six) days in row.”

Showering and changing clothes are pesky? Uh, I do stay in hotels with running water. I have plenty of time to avoid being completely disgusting. I have visited some pretty far out places, like camping in northern Finland wilderness and sleeping under reindeer blankets, but never have I been anywhere without access to soap and water for six days. That’s Unabomber stuff.

But wait, traveling light and smelly seems to be a trend in the travel world. I examined further.

The dirty side of travel
Found a headline: “Startup claims its underwear stays odor-free through weeks of wear.” These underpants go beyond the six-day socks. Weeks? The pitch doesn’t mess around, “Want to wear the same pair of underwear for weeks at a time?”

Well, no, but I'm listening. “A Danish startup called Organic Basics claims its underwear remain fresh through weeks of wear, eliminating the need for frequent washing. And this could be a boon for the environment – if it’s true.”
The secret of Organic Basics underwear is Polygiene, which contains silver chloride, which prevents the buildup of bacteria that causes b.o. However, two reporters from the New York Times tested Organic Basics underwear and handed in report cards with a big red “F” on them. By Day 2, the underwear was funky. You need regularly scheduled hygiene keeps the netherlands daisy-fresh. 

Saw another article where a travel writer wore the same T-shirt from Unbound Merino for 12 days without washing it. The T-shirt was made with merino wool from Australia and New Zealand that wicks away perspiration. This wool blend has tiny pockets of air that open when body heat rises and … I can’t go on, it’s so full of insanity. The dirtiest kid in gym class, or an athlete on a winning streak, isn’t wearing the same T-shirt for 12 days. But according to the travel writer, the Unbound Merino T-shirt did keep its word.

Just to prevent slippage, deodorants on the shelves at CVS now promise to be effective for 96 hours. Why can’t they just say four days? I use one of them: Right Guard Alpha. I don’t press the 96 hour issue, though. It’s part of my daily routine: wash the outside of my body in a dangerously hot shower, brush teeth, comb hair, apply pitstop. However, no matter hard you try, there will be instances when it’s kinder to stay far away from other living creatures.

In fact, there’s only one odor that its guaranteed easy to get out: Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor. Last year, Odor’s batting average was a woeful .205. He stinks.

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