How to Clean Sour Smelling Clothing

Category Clothing
Vinegar and soaking your foul garments can help remove odors from your laundry. This is a page about how to clean sour smelling clothing.


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August 1, 2008

I am looking for help with stinky sour clothing.


By redbudtx (Guest Post)
August 1, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

Wash them with a cup of vinegar added to the washing machine. Vinegar also kills germs.

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December 26, 20101 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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November 2, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

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 of any odor. Have used this method many years successfully.

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

July 31, 2008

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


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.

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

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


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 Annie Rios Hill

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 gale join eer

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October 17, 2004
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