The Stinky Tee Saga

One of the few Christmas gift ideas Jason had for me last year was matching t-shirts for us; a commitment step I was not yet willing to take. In relationship hierarchy, matching shirts comes after moving in together but before marriage, and, a scant two months into our relationship, we weren’t there yet. Sure, put your hands wherever, but stay out of my closet!

But, wanting to make him happy, I compromised. Instead of matching shirts, I bought us coordinating glow-in-the-dark Tron shirts–the light for him, and the dark for myself. The day of our pre-Christmas gift exchange, I wore it to work, carefully styling my hair with a fancy new product. I ended up having to do some work in the warehouse, building up a light sweat, dampening my clothes and hair. It was then that I began to catch subtle whiffs of a foul stench. I did an armpit check–that wasn’t it. I did a surreptitious crotch check–no swamp ass. Where was the smell coming from!? Oh god, it must be my hair. Something about that new product interacted with my hair chemistry and now my head smells like rotten eggs!

I spent the rest of the day downwind from coworkers and rushed home early to wash my hair before Jason’s arrival. But as we sat there, watching Sharktopus, I smelled it again, a combination of rotten eggs and the devil’s buttcrack. I began sniffing at my hair, and all I got was shampoo. Lowering my nose, I sniffed at the shirt, and reeled away from the vomitous odor. It was the shirt all along! What could possibly make a brand new shirt reek so badly?

The next day, I scrounged my apartment for quarters and washed the shirt five times. After drying, it smelled fine, so I felt confident enough to wear it to the post Christmas party I had with Aisling and Chris, but while dancing, it got damp, and the stink started anew, now working its way into the fabrics of my OTHER shirts.

What in the stinky hell IS this shirt? I emailed Threadless, telling them I couldn’t wear a shirt that made me smell like a crotchety dude’s mailbox after he gave out pennies on Halloween, mentioning that a friend had experienced a similar odor with HIS dark Tron hoodie, and asking for an exchange for a non-stinky tee.

Threadless wrote me back, saying that there is an odor associated with their glow inks, but they’ve found it dissipates after a few washes.

Funnily enough, it seems like that’s worth a mention on their site. They talk about potential print imperfections, why not inform a customer there’s a potential they’ll become a social pariah after an afternoon spent exuding pure stink?

But, I persevered. I washed and washed and washed and washed the shirt, finally believing the power of detergent had won out over the stench of sulphurous ooze. I wore it on our beach house vacation this summer without issue…until I realized I’d forgotten to pack a towel and dried myself with the shirt. The damp shirt went back into my bag, and when I unzipped the bag later that day, a finely woven thread of stinky eggs emerged to greet my nose.

Fuck you, Threadless. Fuck you and your smelly shirts.

5 Comments The Stinky Tee Saga

  1. Aisling September 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Yeah, we’ve washed chris’s Dark tron Shirt like, probably 15 to 20 times over the last year, and it STILL stinks.

    My light colored one, on the other hand, smells like Tide:)

    1. Mellzah September 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      Yeah, Jason’s light one is just fine, too. Mine is currently on timeout in the laundry room as I don’t want it associating with my other clothes.

  2. Skullcat October 10, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Thank you for your post. I have the same shirt and the same problem–and I’ve never even worn it once. My whole drawer of t-shirts smelled foul, so I washed EVERYTHING but the rank rotten egg odor dorm the wet load of laundry was overwhelming. After countless loads and soaks, I resorted to smelling each one individually, finally narrowing it down to this ONE threadless shirt (out of dozens of others). Your post confirms that I am not crazy OR stinky!

    1. Mellzah October 10, 2011 at 4:54 am

      I’m really surprised that Threadless hasn’t done anything to compensate the people who purchased these shirts when it’s a known issue, especially with so many other shirt sites selling tees with comparable designs at an equal or lesser price.

  3. Mike November 30, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Pretty much all of the really famous designs at Threadless are ripped off from other design studios around the world, better to buy from someone else. Threadless are notoriously cheap shirts, manufactured in Bangladesh with the cheapest cottons and inks possible.

    Best to buy elsewhere next time. Threadless spends millions in advertising each year, and most don’t realize there are better places to buy shirts.

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