Removing Odors from Clothing

Fabric tends to pick up smells and often they are not pleasant. This guide is about removing odors from clothing.

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Stinky Laundry In Washing Machine with Man Holding Nose
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August 1, 2008 Flag
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I am looking for help with stinky sour clothing.

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December 26, 20100 found this helpful
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The sour smell is butyric acid; it's water soluble, but some fabrics take a long time to diffuse out the stuff. One wash cycle isn't always enough. Soak the garment (overnight in a bucket of water) and maybe change the water and give it a second day. One pound of clothes, ten pounds of water, means you diminish the odor maybe 90 percent with every change of fluid.

The problem eventually will go away with just regular washing, too (but each wash is fifteen minutes of water contact, versus fifteen hours of contact if you leave it in a bucket overnight).

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Anonymous Flag
November 2, 20150 found this helpful
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Use ammonia in wash & soak after agitating then let sit for a hour or more depending on smell. Then rinse out. Fill wash tub with water with same clothes, add vinegar abt 1/2. Cup then run thru wash cycle as usual. This noally takes.care of any odor. Have used this method many years successfully.

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May 18, 2010 Flag
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How can I get the smell of ethanol out of my husband's work clothes and then out of my washer?

By Racheal from Ashland, KY

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August 28, 20130 found this helpful
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Murphy's Oil Soap. I learned this trick when my ex was a dump truck driver.

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January 7, 20140 found this helpful
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Do not use Fabreze. It is made with ethanol. I would wash with baking soda disolved in hot water, but cold water for the wash. Let it sit. I put mine in the wash, let it fill up, agitate for about 10 minutes, than shut it off. My washer is in the bathroom so I run it everytime I go in there for the next couple of hours. Before it rinses, I add a cup of vinegar, run it, let it sit. Than rinse it.

Good luck with it.

Ethanol is a neurotoxin. It causes brain damage for me. It makes my motor-controls not work correctly.

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February 29, 2016 Flag
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My child had an accident in his jammies and I hadn't noticed. I didn't do laundry for a few days and now I can't get the poop smell out of his pj bottoms. Any suggestions?

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    March 9, 20160 found this helpful

    One-third cup of baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar in your washing machine will take out odors in clothes. Make sure you let the washer fill with water first. This mixture will foam up for a few seconds. I've used this for many types of clothes (polyester, cottons, polyester and cotton, and it works great.

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    November 19, 2015 Flag
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    With all the rain lately my septic tank overflowed and when it did it went into my washer when my laundry was washing. I had to rewash it three times and my brother said they smelled fine so I wore an outfit from it. Now I'm out in public and I smell like when the septic tank overflowed. I sprayed perfume to hide it; also I won't be able to wash clothes cause I'm leaving to go out of town in few hours. I need advice on what to do.

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      November 22, 20150 found this helpful

      1. Get your septic tank pumped. You waited too long to do it and that's why it backed up.

      2. Don't bother with perfume. It will just smell like somebody crapped in a flower garden. Buy a new outfit to travel and wash your clothes in a laundromat while away.

      3. When you get home, consult a septic expert about both pumping your septic and what to do about your washer.

      If septic backed up in your washer, your tap water may not be safe. Be careful.

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      December 15, 20150 found this helpful

      I think what happened was the washer had no where to pump the water so it mixed with sewar water but didn't really leave the machine. If you live well away from the nearest neighbor, run a separate line out into the yard for your washer water just on top of the ground. It's grey water. Just move the end periodically where the water comes out with force.

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      April 2, 2016 Flag
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      This is a guide about removing odors from vintage clothing. Clothes that have been stored for years can have a variety of odd smells.

      Close up of a rack of vintage clothing

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      April 2, 2016 Flag
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      This is a guide about removing odors from clothing that was left in the washer. Mildew can grow in damp clothes that have not been dried promptly leaving a stubborn smell.

      Woman crouched in front of a front loading dryer smelling a shirt

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      October 1, 2006 Flag
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      How do you remove underarm odor from an article of clothing that can't be washed or dry-cleaned (a costume)?

      Angel from Seattle, WA

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      August 6, 20150 found this helpful
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      I realize this answer is years later. My son is in charge of entertainment dept., dancers etc. Their costumes get very sweaty and are very elaborate so they cannot be just washed. Dry cleaning bills are very pricey for garments like this and sometimes dry cleaning damages them. The dancers swear by vodka. Spraying and just letting the item sit out in fresh air or even better the sun. I concentrate on the pits and blot with a white towel. High concentrate alcohol may also be used. The least water content the better, I found 91% alcohol at major dept store, but vodka is usually best. Cheap vodka is OK.

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      October 3, 20060 found this helpful

      Spray it with Febreeze - It's great for that sort of problem. It can be used on all sorts of clothing that don't really neeed dry cleaning - but have to be refreshed & items that can't be dry cleaned as well. Just apply, let dry & repeat until the odor is gone.

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      October 12, 2010 Flag
      4 found this helpful

      I had a brand new bedspread, that picked up a musty smell from an RV we had used. I tried everything, to get the odor out. Of course I could not use bleach on this fabric.

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      January 9, 2015 Flag
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      How can you remove the smell of oil from bowling towels?

      By Peggy S.

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      January 13, 20150 found this helpful

      Try using white vinegar in the rinse cycle. It works great for removing oil, grease, and odors from clothing. Baking soda works great for removing odors as well.

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      November 11, 2013 Flag
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      I am new to the harsh winters of Canada and am starting to get used to the idea of heavy outerwear like woolen jackets with inner linings, etc. I am also Indian, so our cooking stinks sky-high, unfortunately.

      I need a solution to remove the smell of cooking/food from my heavy, outerwear without washing them. These are almost new stuff, but I hate that they smell of food whenever I go out to work or shopping.

      Please help. I would like to have some solution where I can put some stuff in the dryer with these jackets and that takes out all the odor. No washing needed. Only deodorizing.

      Thanks.

      By Azmat

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      November 13, 20130 found this helpful

      For starters, try airing them outside for a few hours. Choose a windy day if possible. Or .... if you have access to a dryer, use a home dry cleaner (ie: Dryel) that can be found in most grocery or department stores in their laundry detergent aisle.

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      May 11, 2009 Flag
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      My elderly mother washed her clothes with a container that had fuel oil in it instead of laundry detergent. How do I get fuel oil smell out of her clothes?

      By vmccook from Tunkhannock, PA

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      May 13, 20090 found this helpful

      Gasoline is an oil based product, therefore, use another oil based product to pull out the odor (which is left because all the gas oil has not been removed yet). You can use any kind of oil that normally washes out of clothing, like baby oil. Put some of the oil into the washer along with the clothes, let it swish around for a while, then put in the detergent and all should come out okay. Be sure not to use a dryer to dry these clothes, as it could cause a fire.

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      May 21, 20090 found this helpful

      GO to the local auto parts store and pick up a bottle of 'pink stuff' (real name) this pulls the smells of kero, gas etc from clothes, car rugs etc. Ria

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      November 29, 2012 Flag
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      This guide is about removing musty smell from clothing. Allowing clothes to be damp for too long can result in a funky smell.

      Basket of musty smelling clothing.

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      July 31, 2008 Flag
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      My daughter washed her clothes for the first time. Unfortunately, after she removed them from the washing machine she must have put them all on top of each other - expecting they would dry. She called me frantic - her clothes have a terrible odor. What should she do now?

      S Wilson from Palm Desert, CA

      Answers:

      Sour Smelling Clothing

      Regardless, if you want something that usually works, 1/4 C. bleach in a washer of hot water (if not a synthetic fabric) works. OR 1 capful of original Lysol works well, too, although hard to find. (10/21/2006)

      By Lynda

      Sour Smelling Clothing

      Part of the problem of sour smelling clothing is due in large part to soap or detergent residue left behind when washing in hard water. You cannot rinse out all of the soap or detergent in hard water therefore leaving it in the clothing. Detergents are high in pH and therefore part of the problem.

      Solution: Install a water softener and use pure soap products. Brighter, softer laundry with a clean fresh smell. Solve the problem and forget about fixing the symptom.
      (09/13/2007)

      By Kelly Johnson

      Sour Smelling Clothing

      We tend to not want to do laundry and so we also tend to over load the machine to save time and money. By having an over sized load the clothes do not get clean well enough and they do not rinse the soils complete, try a smaller load and smell the difference. (07/09/2008)

      By Indiana Home Inspector

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      October 19, 2006 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      I have clothes that have a sour smell. I work for a pet groomer, so they get wet, then dry, then wet and dry and by the time I get home they smell sour. It won't come out when washed. I have tried baking soda, Febreze, Pine Sol, vinegar, I just can't get the smell out. What can I use?

      Krys from Milton, Florida

      Answers:

      Sour Smelling Clothing

      Am wondering if there is anything you could use to pre-treat (wash, rinse) the clothing, so that it doesn't pick up the smell from work.

      Another thought is for you to use separate clothing for work and make sure it can stand up to the vinegar, hot water and long soakings. These treatments can fade the design and weaken fabric quickly. Possibly nurse's or medical technician's outfits might last. Or contact a uniform supply company. and see what they have to offer. You need a sturdy, tough, boilable fabric or your wardrobe bill will be out of sight. (06/09/2006)

      By Holly

      Sour Smelling Clothing

      I had this problem, I left clothes in washer and forgot for a week. They smelled yucky so I soaked them in laundry soap, 1 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup borax and then let them sit for a day then drained water and washed with laundry soap and vinegar borax mix and problem solved. Good luck. Also maybe a few drops of lemon dish soap or ammonia for laundry helps. (06/09/2006)

      By <a href="/profile/index.lasso?profile=thr862125">meoowmom

      Sour Smelling Clothing

      I use household or foaming ammonia. It's the same product and it will be on the shelf with other laundry boosters. Use about half cup in a wash load, with your regular non-bleach detergent, dry outside if possible. DO NOT USE CHLORINE BLEACH OR ANY OTHER PRODUCT WITH AMMONIA. This will remove dried-in sweat from farmer's clothes; underarm stains from teen's uniforms, and sweeten any garments that have been lying around wet. Like vinegar, it smells awful, but dries with no smell. And it will not damage your clothes. (06/10/2006)

      By <a href="/profile/index.lasso?profile=thr489069">mygaley

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      October 12, 2006 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      To remove smoky odors from your clothes, fill your bathtub with hot water and add 2 cups of vinegar. Hang clothes on the curtain rod and the steam will remove the odors.

      By Laura

      Answers:

      Removing Smokey Odors from Clothing

      I just throw the smokey smelling clothes in the dryer with a scented fabric softener sheet and put the dryer on "air only" for about 10 - 15 minutes. (03/23/2006)

      By Maureen

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      October 17, 2004 Flag
      0 found this helpful

      I have sour smelling t shirts. I have tried everything: laundry odor eliminator, color safe bleach, extra fabric softener, extra fabric sheets, and small loads, immediate placement into the dryer.

      Please help me!

      Rachel

      Answers:
      -- 10/18/2004
      Add some pinesol or any pine cleaner to your laundry. Any brand!

      It works wonder!

      By Bobbie
      -- 10/18/2004
      Try straight vinegar in the wash. Like a cup.
      By Lori
      -- 10/18/2004
      If its only these items and not the rest of your wash have you tried soaking them in Nappy soaker for 24-48 hours then washing in a hot wash. Drying in sunlight should also help.

      Regards

      Jo

      By Jo Bodey
      -- 10/18/2004
      Soak in baking soda solution.
      By William
      -- 10/18/2004
      Did not see where you have tried using white vinegar in the wash and rinse cycles to get rid of the sour smelling tees. It works every time for me and you don't have to use fabric softener in the dryer or rinse either. If they are really sour, load machine and put in vinegar, let soak for 15-30 and then turn machine on.
      By Plh549
      -- 10/19/2004
      I use distilled vinegar in my laundry. It takes sour odors out and is also suppose to be a natural fabric softener. One would think the laundry would smell like a salad dressing but it doesn't.
      By Green18Chick
      -- 10/19/2004
      When I bring stuff home that has soured, I first soak it in baking soda water, about a cup and a half in the washer, I let it soak overnight, then I wash the clothes in normal laundry soap, then for rinse I put a cup of vinegar with about 20 drops of essential oil in.
      Good Luck
      By Tracey
      -- 10/21/2004
      Try laying them on the grass in the sunshine.
      By Karen

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