Removing a Sulfur Odor from Clothing

For the past three years, my clothes have smelled of a sulfuric type smell. I've (along with my mother) attempted to remove the smell using the popular solutions: vinegar, baking soda, Smellywasher, etc. None of it has worked, ever, at removing the smell although the vinegar solution has made my clothes smell great out of the machine. We've moved into three different apartments over these past few years, so I'm not sure if sulfuric water is the problem (or ever was).


I do know that I heard people say I smelled "gassy" and I do smell something sulfuric at random times. It's in all of my clothes, because people frequently have to breathe "away" or cover their noses. It's been a self-esteem killer and I barely have the ability to look people in the eye. My work requires me to meet with random people (clients) and help them out, and it kills me inside (and makes me nervous, causing me to stutter, turn red, etc.) when they have to cover their noses or breathe away from me, or worse yet, when they get angry. I don't blame them, I just want to get the smell out.

I truly appreciate any help I receive because its ruining my life (already has) to the point where I socialize with only a small group of friends (who swear they don't smell anything, but friends are supposed to say that). I have gained a bunch of weight, and seem depressed (I can't be motivated for anything).

By godsgift2dagame from Champaign, IL

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I'm sorry to hear that you are having a hard time with this. It is a mystery indeed. Have you tried changing detergents? Perhaps you could go to a laundromat and see if you still have the problem there. When I have really smelly clothes, I add about a cup of vinegar to the washing machine right after I put the clothes in. Have you tried fabric softeners to see if they help? Or maybe you could spray Febreze on the clothes right before you put them on. Or maybe you can buy the stuff used to soak dirty cloth diapers in (not sure what the name is). Good Luck!

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I don't want to sound mean, but are you sure it is your clothing and not your skin or breath? I would go see a naturopathic doctor if I were you. You and your mother may have a medical condition. It could also be your diet. There are foods that contain sulfur.

I know you said you moved several times, but I also wondered if you have the same washing machine you did when this all started. It could be coming from the machine.

I wish you the best of luck in finding out what the problem is. It must be really hard to live with.

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I also wondered if it might be some chemical reaction between the clothes and you. Do the clothes smell in the closet? Fresh out of the washer? Or only when you wear them? Does your bedding smell? Do they smell if you wash them somewhere else? Do they smell if someone else wears them?

If it is only your clothes and you, I think it would be a medical condition you need to consult a doctor about.

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You mentioned feeling uncomfortable in social situations; are you on any prescribed medications like Venlafaxine or Efflexor? Googling them brings up a few user boards discussing a sulfur-like odor in the urine and also in perspiration. Other meds and physical conditions could also possibly cause it.

If your water source isn't where the sulfuric odor is coming from, you may want to have your doc take a look.

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hello original poster,

I've been working on removing these odors from my clothing for the past two months and I have had the same problems socially but only recently have I become aware, since I have been on a medication which, believe it or not, heightens my sense of smell. I've read the most obvious stuff about vinegar, baking soda, etc. and you're right, it doesn't work. The smell only gets masked.

Sulfur has seemed to be impossible to remove fully. However I have not lost hope and I believe I will be able to salvage my wardrobe which I love. I have had to go into some chemistry just to get a handle on it.

A very very very small amount when spread to the other clothes will make them smell also. The gas is able to be detected by others around you when in the ppm(parts per million) amount!

Sulfur will change to a gas when it is in the dryer. But not not smell due to the masking by detergent smell. It will also change to a gas when you wear the clothes as a result of body heat. This may take a few hours or many hours. The gas will also penetrate and ruin your shoes as a result of the socks getting warm in side the shoes. So if you have a strong sulfur content you may want to wait till you gain a handle on it then get new shoes socks all at once.

I can at least tell you some things I am sure you have never heard but that I know will help you.

First of all you should figure out how bad your clothes are sulfured and if it would be best just to start over with new everything(bedding included). For me this was my first resort. It worked well and I reduced the sulfur in my life dramatically. However after a couple weeks I slipped and allowed a source to contaminate my wardrobe again. If by any chance you don't know what is your source is, I would suggest it might well have been your water supply or a face acne treatment made by proactiv which contains sulfur.

From the reactions you are getting from people it sounds like you have a very high content in your clothing. You may want to start new. But here is something I bet you wont find anywhere on the internet. If you boil your clothing(that which isn't too delicate) in a stock pot and with a grate to hold them down well submerged under the water than the sulfur will rise to the top of the water. If you can do this, most of the sulfur will be removed. If you have high sulfur content you will see the film floating atop the water. Scoop it out and dispose of it before taking your clothing out from the pot. Use lots of vinegar with dark clothing, it will save them from bleeding tremendously.

When you wash them in the dryer maker sure your mothers load didn't just gas up the dryer. If you want you could take a fan and suck the gases out. And make sure to not use dryer sheets and use only a small amount of detergent so you will be able to smell the sulfur gas easier and get an idea of the progress you are making.

I am working on some other methods involving chlorophyll and conversion of the gasses while in the dryer which I will post the results on later. Good luck!

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None of that is going to help and throwing out your clothes etc is nuts. It's a chemical problem that is either in your water itself or from your water heater. Just search how to remove sulfur from your water and does it smell the same whether hot or cold (water) Lastly, take your clothes somewhere else to wash until you solve it (sometimes easy -just some bleach will slove it, but not in your washer!) Resolve to solve it, not feel bad and not let this common water problem affect your life!

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Home and Garden Cleaning ClothingAugust 17, 2010
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