My son has received some great hand-me-downs from a friend, but they have been washed in scented laundry detergent. He has allergies and asthma, so I always use unscented detergent and fabric softener. I have tried washing them in hot water with baking soda and my own detergent, but the smell is still very strong. How can I remove the detergent smell from the clothes?
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Target makes a product called "Smell Remover" you might try it.
I along with the other members agree that you should wash the clothes with a cup of vinegar. Another solution is to hang the clothes outside for a few hours and let the sun remove the odors for you. Launder as usual afterwards.
Try "Odor Disposers" It's a shampoo intended to remove the odor from dogs! Pretty appropriate, actually. I soaked cotton shirts in it and then tossed them in the regular laundry. No smell!
By Heidi (Guest Post) 09/23/2008 Flag
I want to point out that "fragrance" and "smells" are not the same, especially to people like me who think that clean is the absence of dirty ranter than the presence of a nice smell.
My whole family is allergic to fragrances, chlorine and strong chemicals. Like your friend we use all unscented and fragrance free product (no it is not the same thing, Dove Unscented soap is not fragrance free!)
For people like me I can just hang things outside or in the laundry room for weeks, it can't be in the house or I have neurological problems, my twins have breathing problems and skin rashes and it gets worse from there.
I agree that washing with at least a cup of vinegar and baking soda can take out some things, but as products get stronger or the longer they are used it seems to take more to get it completely out. I usually do the above on the first load, second I use the Scent Away hunters product, with my free and clear laundry detergent. It sometimes takes a few washes and some time outside to air out but most of it comes out eventually.
The other thing to try is enzymes, you can put them in or on nearly everything in your home and it makes the best carpet cleaner! Just add to the water in your machine and rinse and leave it in over night and it eats the proteins, oils and odors out as you sleep.
By Chastity (Guest Post) 01/04/2009 Flag
I bought a sweater from Abercrombie and Fitch and couldn't even wear it. It was so strong of the perfume it gave me a headache. I tried everything to get it out. Until I got on here and tried the spraying the Fabreeze on it and then putting it in the dryer for a few minutes. IT WORKED! It was a wool sweater to be dry cleaned and it didn't hurt it. Thank you so much.
Sometimes you can't get it out. Unless you want to devote your entire week to it. I had an easier time improving the smell of the clothes from an 80 year old chain smoker. My friend wears this icky perfume and then gives me hand me downs which smell to the bejesus. I washed this one shirt probably 10X with vinegar, tsp, baking soda, I kept it outside for over a month, simple green, borax- no deal. It still stinks more than the smoker clothes do.
I have had some major experience with this issue after an innkeeper ruined by clothes with fabric softener (that I asked specifically for him NOT to use). That issue aside, here's what I've learned:
If the fabric has any spandex in it - toss it. You can't get any of the chemicals they use for "fragrance" out of spandex - period.
If the fabric is cotton, then multiple washes with vinegar and/or borax will eventually work.
If it is a cotton/poly blend it can be done, but it takes time. Wash it several times in hot water with borax/vinegar and then hang it up somewhere to air out (not in a closet) - for a year.
That's what I learned. Good luck.
Here are questions related to Getting Perfume Smell Out of Clothing.
How do you get strong perfume smells out of clothing?
I haven't had a problem with perfume smells,
but I once had a sweater with strong mothball
scent. I tried Fabreeze, all of the "do it
yourself" dry cleaning products, and nothing
worked. It still reeked of moth balls. Then,
my Aunt told me the solution. Hang it outside
on the clothesline! The sun and fresh air
completely removed the odor! If it worked for
mothballs, maybe it'll work for perfume.
I was going to recommend hanging outside, also. Another good way is sprinkle baking soda all over the garment. Put it in a plastic bag for a few days then shake out the baking soda. It should absorb the odors. - Susan
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I bought a cotton shirt from a thrift store. I can't get rid of the previous owner's nasty perfume smell, even after multiple washings. I have been hand-washing it so tips on that angle are appreciated.
SLK from Colorado
I've used Febreeze to get out all kinds of smells from clothing. I've even sprayed it on dryclean only clothing, and it really works! The only thing I haven't tried is something silk, so you might use caution with that. Just put it on a hanger, spritz both sides and let dry. It the perfume is still there, turn it inside out and spray it that way.
Good luck! (12/06/2004)
Water washing is the best way to get out smells. Dry cleaning does not eliminate odors. We used Febreze at the plant where I worked, and it was even good for body-odor left in sweaters that had been dry cleaned. Toss sweaters in the dryer, spray Febreze into the drum and turn on dryer for just a few minutes. (12/06/2004)
Being chemically sensitive, I wouldn't spray anything with Febreeze. To get odors out of used clothing I use baking soda and/or vinegar. Sometimes direct sunshine will help. (12/08/2004)
There is a product called SCENTS-AWAY. get it at sporting goods (Wal-mart has it) Its for hunters to get the human smell off there clothing so that the Deer can't smell them.
I also use 1 TBSP mixed with water in spray bottle to get odors out of carpet and furniture, I use it as if it was Fabreez, and there is no perfume in for those of us that can't take the smell of Fabreez. My bottle cost $5.00 4 yrs. ago and you can only buy it in hunting season in most places. (12/10/2004)
I would just hang the clothes up somewhere out of the way, until the smell is gone from them. (12/31/2004)
Use white vinegar in your washing machine. About a cup along with your regular detergent, it takes odors out of clothing. (09/09/2005)
My sister often "inherits" clothes from her perfume loving neighbor and her way of dealing with the smell is to put the clothes in an open area of her laundry room for several weeks to months, and the smell eventually dissipates. Good luck!
Also, if the item needs to be hand-washed, why not try it on the gentle cycle in the washer? My washer has a hand-wash/delicate cycle and it works very gently. Adding 1/2 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle (in place of fabric softener) not only helps remove odors, but also irritants in your clothing. Plus, vinegar is much less expensive than fabric softener with the same properties. (09/09/2005)
I am a chemically sensitive person and it seems like the whole world thinks Fabreeze is God's gift to the stinky world. I don't know if you've noticed, but Fabreeze has a fragrance. Getting rid of one fragrance by putting another over it is hardly a solution. Try to think less of smell (which is a huge issue) and more of the chemicals that create that smell. Get rid of the chemicals by cleaning with something rather than ADDING more chemicals to the mix.
If something smells really bad to me (fragrances of any kind) they make me sick. I just returned from my dentist who obviously sprays his chair with Fabreeze and his office has some plug in fragrance things as well. I washed my clothes six times and the smell just actually got stronger. I'm trying to get it off my car seats as we speak.
My solution which I hope will work: Lightly wet the seats with a wet paper towel and my shampoo and, I've found this to be a great and natural "fragrance." Get a big pack of Juicy Fruit or Double-mint gum. Get two or three. Take all the gum out but you don't have to unwrap the sticks. Spread a few packs out all over the place. Everything smells just like Juicy Fruit or Double-mint. The smell is very strong, non chemical, and a heck of lot better than any perfume. Lasts a week or so and by that time the other smell is usually gone.
Don't chew it. (02/01/2006)
Is there anyway of getting a strong perfume smell out of clothes? A friend who has gone away for six months gave me some winter garments, nice windcheaters, etc (she's gone to a hot climate). However, whatever perfume she used is clinging strongly to the garments. it's not a scent I care for at all. I have washed the things but the scent is still there.
Ellie from melbourne Australia
WHITE VINEGAR! Along with borax and baking soda if the plain vinegar doesn't work. (08/29/2006)
Add 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup white vinegar to your laundry soap and let it soak for a few hours or overnight if possible. It should do the trick. (09/04/2006)