How to Remove Strong Odors From Washable Fabrics

by Josh Baum ; Updated September 28, 2017

Some odors are so tough that they can penetrate clothing and other fabrics and linger around even after washing. Scents with this kind of staying power include smoke, grass, sweat, perfume and certain chemicals. When you encounter an odor that just won't go away, try this trick. It's an effective odor-cleansing method that's tried and true.

If you have not already done so, wash the fabric as usual using your regular detergent and the most appropriate washing machine setting. A regular wash will effectively eliminate most odors.

If the odor remains after the fabrics have been washed and dried, load them into the washing machine again. Add your usual amount of detergent, but do not add any fabric softener to the dispenser. If your washing machine has a setting that makes it pause before the final rinse cycle, turn that setting on.

Begin the wash cycle and wait for the final rinse cycle. At the beginning of the final rinse, open the washing machine and pour in 1/2 cup of white vinegar.

After the rinse cycle, move the fabrics immediately to the dryer and dry them completely. The odors should be completely neutralized; there should be no need to re-wash or rinse them again.

Tips

  • A few spritzes from a spray bottle of one cup of vinegar mixed with one cup of water can also help neutralize smells without additional washing.