How to Get Body Odor Out of Clothes

Three Methods:Washing Clothes With Deodorizing SolutionsSoaking Your ClothesPreventing Smelly Clothes

It can be pretty frustrating to put your favorite sweater and realize it smells like sweat and body odor. If you wear certain clothes a lot they’re eventually going to start to smell a little funky and this is especially true for clothes that you wear to the gym or go running in. There comes a point where your clothes will still smell bad no matter how many times you’ve washed them. Although you may have to jump through a few extra hoops, the good news is that you can reduce or eliminate the odor with a few different tricks.

Method 1
Washing Clothes With Deodorizing Solutions

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    Be very careful using commercial deodorizing solutions. Although they are advertised to remove odors from a range of products from carpets to rooms, they are sometimes not suitable for clothing. Consider using household items instead.
    • Too many uses can ruin the brightness of your clothes
    • They can cause itchiness or irritation from the chemicals in the solution.
    • The scent of the commercial product can also mix with sweat and become intense and too potent.
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    Gather your items. You might have these things laying around your kitchen somewhere. If you don’t, a quick trip to the grocery store to buy the items will only set you back a few dollars. The amounts listed below assume that you’ll be washing a few items of clothing.
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 cup lemon juice[1]
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • Regular laundry detergent
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    Pretreat particularly smelly areas. If there are only certain parts of the clothing that smell bad then you should applying baking soda to specific areas of the clothing.
    • Smell the clothes to determine which area is the worst. If some areas are far worse then others, mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of water. This will form a white paste which you can then lightly spread on the worst areas.[2]
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    Wash your clothing like you normally would. Once you’ve pretreated the bad areas, throw the garment in the wash and run it on cold water with the appropriate amount of laundry detergent. You’ll create your mix for the rest of the clothing while it is in the wash.
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    Create your deodorizing mix. While the garment is in the wash, create the liquid mix using the items that you just gathered. Find a small pot or bowl and put the baking soda, the lemon juice, and the cinnamon stick inside.[3]
    • Make sure you mix the baking soda in with the lemon juice and then wait for the cinnamon stick to get soaked. The color of the liquid should be a light brown.
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    Cover the garment with the mix. Once your smelly clothing has finished its wash cycle, coat the garment with the mix. You can pour it on the garment, put it in a spray bottle and spray it, or even spread it on the garment lightly with the flat side of a knife. You do not need to soak the garment; just make sure you cover the entire surface of the clothing.[4]
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    Dry the garment. Place in dryer on "Low Heat" setting, as the low temperature will keep bacteria from growing. Remove the garment from the dryer and check for any smells still present in the garment.
    • If it still smells, repeat the process.

Method 2
Soaking Your Clothes

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    Fill up your tub with warm water. If you’re not washing that many clothes you can also choose to use a bucket. The water doesn’t need to be scalding hot but it shouldn’t be cold either.
    • This method will work best with warm to hot water.
    • You can soak your clothes in the washing machine using the ‘soak’ setting if you would rather not use your bathtub.
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    Add white vinegar to the water. If you’re filling a whole bathtub with water and clothing you should add two cups of white vinegar. If you are only filling up a bucket with water, one cup of white vinegar will do the trick.[5]
    • White vinegar helps to lower the pH in the water, thereby reducing odors.[6]
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    Let your clothes soak. You can let your clothes soak overnight if you need to, but the odor should start to decrease after a few hours.
    • If you weren’t happy with the results of the lemon mixture or the baking soda, soaking your clothes is a great option.
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    Dry your clothes. Wringing out and air-drying outside is the best option for removing odors because the air circulation combined with the light will help to deodorize the clothing. If you’re in a rush it is perfectly acceptable to use your dryer.

Method 3
Preventing Smelly Clothes

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    Use a different antiperspirant. Sweat stains and strange smells can actually come from using a certain type of antiperspirant. Experiment with different types of antiperspirant or just switch to deodorant.
    • Antiperspirants can sometimes trap molecules in the fabric of your shirt which leave those unsightly stains that don’t smell that great either.[7]
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    Avoid detergent build-up. [8] If you pour too much detergent in your laundry loads then the water is not able to completely dilute and wash it away. A sticky residue is left behind that traps odors into your clothing [9], rather than making them smell better.
    • If you feel like your clothes smell worse when you take them out of the wash, this might be the reason.
    • It may seem counter-intuitive to put less laundry detergent in when your clothes don’t smell good but give it a try.
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    Use antibacterial soap when you shower. One way to prevent smelly clothes is to try to stay cleaner. Antibacterial soap can be very helpful in this regard. The next time you go to buy soap look for one that is labeled antibacterial – this type of soap will reduce the bacteria count on your body, thereby reducing the smell when you sweat.[10]
    • This is a good preventative measure that will also help your hygiene.
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    Shower once a day and dry well. Although antibacterial soap will do wonders for the bacteria on your body, showering once a day can accomplish the same feat. Try to save your shower until after you exercise so that you aren’t sleeping in your sweat. The more bacteria on the body, the worse you’ll smell, and then the worse your clothes will smell.
    • Make sure you dry off thoroughly after you get out of the shower. Bacteria does not breed as readily on dry skin.[11]


  • Use the low heat setting on the dryer.
  • Don't soak the garment.
  • Use cold water in the washer.
  • It's important that you thoroughly rinse the article of clothing.

Article Info

Categories: Laundry | Sweating and Body Odor Hygiene