Wondering how to take smell out of clothes without washing? These are our top ten tips to remove smells from clothes without washing them.
One part of sustainable fashion that not many talk about enough is how to care for the clothes so they last longer. Washing clothes in the washing machine and dryer is convenient but it uses up a lot of energy and water each time. Each year, laundry is estimated to emit 62 tons of CO2 greenhouse gases.
But who wants to smell bad? There are ways to use a piece of clothing item for longer before throwing it into the wash. So we’ve put together this guide on how to get smells out of clothes without even using the washing machine.
These sustainable cleaning hacks are easy to do, better for the environment, and extend the life of our clothing. Most items you probably already have at home and some can be bought to make your life easier.
Let’s get into it!
Some links may be affiliate links which means if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for your support!
How To Take Smell Out Of Clothes Without Washing
1. Hang Clothes Outside
We’re starting off with the easiest way on how to get the smell out of clothes without washing. But only do this method if your clothes have faint smells. The strong clothes smell will still linger.
Hang your garments outside in a well-ventilated area. The fresh air helps eliminate some of the body odors on your clothes. Keep your clothes outside for about a day before bringing them back in. If the smell is still there, leave it outside for a few more days.
Just remember to not hang brightly colored garments in direct sunlight to prevent color fading.
Also, don’t hang your clothes inside your closet. It needs good air flow in order to get the smells out. You can even hang it in the bathroom while you take a shower. The steam will help take bad smells out while also getting rid of crinkles.
2. Use Baking Soda To Get Smells Out of Clothes
Baking soda is the ultimate ingredient for removing odors. It also can remove musty smell from clothes without washing.
To get rid of clothing smells with baking soda, put the garment in a bag and add a generous amount of baking soda. Seal it tight and shake it. Then, leave the clothes in the bag overnight to let it absorb all the odors.
The next day, shake off the baking soda and you should have an odor-free piece of clothing!
This cleaning hack shouldn’t be used on more delicate fibers like wool, cashmere, or silk because baking soda is mildly abrasive and can potentially damage the clothing.
3. Use White Vinegar To Deodorize Smells
Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar. Then, mist the clothes and apply more vinegar solution to the areas with the strongest odors. Use this spray to clean clothes without washing.
Let the clothes air dry. Vinegar does have a strong smell but it does go away after it dries.
4. Use Activated Charcoal
To deodorize the clothes smell using charcoal, put your clothes in a large bag and add a bag of activated charcoal. Seal the bag and let it sit overnight to absorb the odors.
Take it out the next day and you’ll get odor-free clean clothes.
5. Steam Your Clothes
Steaming your clothes is a bit more time-consuming than the other methods on this list but it’s definitely effective. It also gets rid of wrinkles so you basically get two things done at once!
Use a handheld steamer and go over the entire garment, especially the areas where the odors are stronger.
Not only does it get rid of odors, but the high heat from the steamer actually helps kill bacteria. Steamers can even remove stains. Just hold the steamer on the stained area for a minute or so.
Most types of fabrics can be steamed, even delicate fabrics like silk, cashmere, and wool. But waxed fabrics like suede should not be steamed since they might easily melt.
If you don’t have a steamer, just hang your garments during a hot shower. This doesn’t work as well as a steamer though.
This portable handheld steamer works extremely well and is quite affordable too.
6. Use Natural Fabric Freshener Sprays
The fastest way to get rid of musty smells in your clothing instead of washing them is to use a fabric freshener spray.
The important thing to care about when choosing a fabric spray is to choose a non-toxic one because you don’t want to spray toxic chemicals and pollute indoor air quality.
Grow Fragrance has natural fabric fresheners that do not contain any toxic irritating chemicals. It’s free from parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and VOCs.
7. Use Essential Oils To Make Clothes Smell Fresh
If you don’t have a fabric freshener at home but have essential oils, we would recommend using it. It doesn’t work as well as a fabric spray but it’s still worth a try.
Apply a drop of essential oil in the area that has odors. Test out a little bit before applying more to make sure it’s not causing any discoloration on your clothing.
If you have baking soda at home, you can mix a few drops of essential oils in your baking soda to leave a fresh scent on your clothes.
8. Spray Rubbing Alcohol or Vodka
Rubbing alcohol or vodka is very effective at neutralizing odors and even killing bacteria.
To use alcohol to get rid of smells on your clothing, fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol or vodka. Then, spray it all over your clothes and let it air dry. Specifically, target the areas that have the strongest odors.
Since alcohol is a strong ingredient, I find it best to just spray it on where smell are most concentrated. This would likely be around the underarm areas.
The alcohol smell will dissipate after it dries. Make sure to leave it to dry in an area with good air flow. This cleaning trick can get rid of some of the strongest odors.
9. Spray Lemon On Clothes
Lemon contains citric acid which is an effective ingredient for cleaning and disinfecting.
To use lemon to get rid of musty smells on clothes, squeeze fresh lemon juice into a spray bottle along with equal amounts of water. Shake the mixture well and apply the solution directly to areas that have an odor.
Let the lemon juice solution sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. After it’s washed off, let the clothes air dry. This will remove odors effectively.
10. Freeze Your Clothes
If you don’t have any of the ingredients to get rid of smells on clothes, try this hack. Place your clothes in a bag and seal it. Leave it in the freezer overnight.
The next day, take it out and let it thaw. Freezing helps kill the odor-causing bacteria and remove the musty smells.
11. Use Dryer Sheets To Mask Odors On Clothes
Dryer sheets do a good job of masking and absorbing odors.
Put your clothes into a bag along with a scented dryer sheet. Seal the bag and leave it overnight.
Make sure to use scented dryer sheets that contain nontoxic fragrances free from formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, and VOCs.
The Molly’s Suds fabric softener dryer sheets are made with pure essential oils and are safe for sensitive skin. You can even use wool balls if you don’t have dryer sheets.
FAQs on How To Take Smell Out Of Clothes Without Washing
How do you get strong smell out of clothes?
Use vinegar, baking soda, lemon, fabric freshener, charcoal, or a steamer to get strong smells out of clothes without washing.
What is the most powerful odor eliminator?
The most powerful odor eliminator is activated charcoal. It’s highly effective at not only masking odors but absorbing odors. Charcoal is also a non-toxic substance so it’s safe to use.
How to freshen clothes that have been in storage?
If you’re trying to freshen clothes in the storage, first air dry them outside under sunlight to neutralize some of the musty smells. If the smell still lingers after a day, try putting it in a bag along with baking soda. Leave it overnight and check if the smell is gone.
How to remove underarm odor from clothes?
To remove underarm odor from clothes, try spraying some rubbing alcohol or vodka on the armpit areas. Make sure to turn the clothes inside out so you spray the targeted areas. Then, let it air dry.
How to freshen clothes without washing while traveling?
The best way to freshen clothes without washing while traveling is to use dry sheets. Add a dryer sheet to your luggage and your clothes will smell fresh. If you have stronger odors, add more dryer sheets.
How to get smell out of clothes with vinegar?
Add equal parts water and white vinegar into a spray bottle and shake well. Then, spray on the areas that have the strongest odors and let it air dry. The vinegar scent will dissipate as it dries.
Nothing working? Try this.
If you tried all of these strategies on how to take smell out of clothes without washing but if it still smells musty, try to leave it outside under indirect sunlight for another week or two.
I had a piece of clothing I got from the thrift store that smelled so bad even after using vinegar, baking soda, alcohol, and pretty much everything listed in this guide. But I left it outside for another 10 days and voila, the musty smell went away!
Another option to resort to is the washing machine. I know, it’s not ideal but it’s worth a try. Use the washing machine using the cold setting with non-toxic laundry detergent and let it air dry.
We hope you found this guide on how to remove musty smell from clothes without washing helpful. If you have any other ideas that helped get musty smell out of clothes, I’d love to hear about them!
For more cleaning guides and home fragrance guides, check out these posts!
- The Best Air Fresheners (Non Toxic)
- 7 Best Toxin Free Reed Diffusers That Smell Amazing
- 10 Best Non Toxic Laundry Detergents For Fresh Laundry
- The Best Natural Deodorants
- Tru Earth VS Earth Breeze Laundry Detergent: Which is better?
- The Best Non Toxic Dish Soaps
- Is Pura Really Non Toxic?
- Is Scentsy Non Toxic?
- How to Clean Prefinished Hardwood Floors
- The Best Clean Floor Cleaners
- How To Clean Sunscreen Off of Car Interior