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Why Would Clean Clothes Have a Strong Chemical Odor?

What would cause my clothes to have a strong chemical smell in them? It causes me and others to sneeze, cough, and start sniffing, and their sinuses start to drain. I've tried buying new clothes and rinsing them before wearing them, and still have the same problem. When I wash them I use only the required amount of detergent, and fabric softener requested for washing the clothes. Please advise on the matter.


By Nett

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January 11, 20110 found this helpful

A couple of ideas. Forget the fabric softener. If you really need something in the final rinse, just use white vinegar. Also be sure you are using a perfume free detergent. Haven't you noticed that you can always smell when someone is doing laundry with all the perfumed products. My morning walk can be really "smelly", some times. I have also noticed that eye burning, sneezy, odor in some stores, that I have since learned to avoid. I was once told it was fireproofing or a product to make fabrics appear sturdier than they really are. Perhaps you should do a smell check before you purchase. Good luck.

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January 11, 20110 found this helpful

Washing powder aisles in the supermarket do for me as well. I use wash balls for some of my clothes, haven't tried soap nuts yet but they are supposed to be good.

Marg from England.

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January 11, 20110 found this helpful

First, always completely wash new clothes because of chemicals used to manufacture them! Secondly, listen to EGGZ and use vinegar for the final rinse instead of fabric softener! And my question for you is, "Do you use any type of manufactured cologne fragrance (rather than using pure essential oil to scent yourself) on you or your clothing?"

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January 12, 20110 found this helpful

Those odors can be caused by polyester clothing that gets too hot in the dryer. I try to avoid those fabrics but if you have any drip dry them.

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January 13, 20110 found this helpful

I would run your wash machine, empty of clothes, using only vinegar in the hottest water possible. As others have said, skip commercial fabric softener and use plain vinegar in the rinse cycle. You might also look into making homemade detergent or switching commercial brand of detergent.

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November 11, 2012

I bought a pair of very lightweight Dockers jeans. The label says 98% cotton, 2% spandex. They were made in China. I have washed them at least 10 times, but cannot get rid of this terrible chemical odor. I have tried two different detergents, fabric softener, warm water, cold water, and hot water. Nothing helps.


I live in Florida so these jeans are the perfect weight, wrinkle free, and look nice. I just can't get past the odor. Anyone else ever have this problem and found a solution?

By Ciscos Mom

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November 23, 20120 found this helpful

Have you tried either Downy or dryer sheets yet?

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