Q: Does it matter if perfume/cologne gets on my clothing?
A: Yes, it does matter. One study found that perfume has a definite negative effect on cotton fabric.
A study published in 2014 in the International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology examined the effect of perfume on a couple types of cotton fabric.
Since some people’s skin reacts negatively to perfume, the researcher (a textile education professor in Turkey) found that some people apply perfume to their clothing. He wanted to examine whether this affects the color or mechanical properties of the cotton.
The researcher got samples of two different types of cotton with two different colors:
- Woven red cotton
- Knitted red cotton
- Woven black cotton
- Woven red cotton
The researcher chose cotton because, at least in his home country (Turkey), people wear more cotton in the summer AND perfume/cologne use increases in the summer. However, this is also true in many other parts of the world!
The researcher then selected the most commonly-used perfume made by the Bargello Perfume Co. (a large Turkish perfume manufacturer) and sprayed it in differing amounts on the fabric.
- Each spray was measured at 0.0625 ml, and each fabric sample got either no sprays (control), four sprays (0.25 ml) or eight sprays (0.50 ml).
- Perfume applications were done three times a day, with one hour interval between sprays, over a period of three days.
- Temperature and humidity were kept the same for all fabrics over the experimental time period.
After the perfume application period, all the fabrics were measured using industry-standard measurements for:
- Tensile strength (the strength of the fabric when being pulled)
- Pilling resistance (pilling is when the loose fibers gather up into tiny “balls” in the fabric)
- Abrasion resistance (whether the fabric resists being worn thin)
- Color measurement (whether the color had faded or changed – measured using a reflectance spectrometer!)
- There were no differences in all the fabrics for tensile strength.
- Therefore, perfume did not have an effect on the tensile strength of the cotton.
- Applying more perfume decreased the pilling resistance of the various fabrics.
- Thus, putting perfume on cotton cloth (of any kind) makes it more likely to pill.
- Perfume affected all the types of cotton negatively on abrasion resistance.
- Fabric samples treated with perfume wore thin more easily – it didn’t matter if it was woven, knitted, red, or black.
- Perfume treatment altered the colors of all the fabrics.
- The color alteration was different according to what type and color fabric they had, but it was all altered.
The more perfume was applied, the worse the color alteration was.
It should be obvious now that you shouldn’t get perfume on your clothing.
While this was only one particular kind of perfume on one particular kind of cloth (cotton), the results were so striking across almost all measured variables that it would be wise to be very cautious about where you apply perfume/cologne.
Many ingredients of perfumes are the same across the board and cotton is extremely common for men.
It’s also important to note how systematic and detailed their analysis was. Take heed!
Kayar, M. (2015). Effects of perfume on mechanical and color properties of cotton fabrics. International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology, 27(1), 6-16. Link: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/IJCST-03-2014-0031