Last Updated on 4 months by Susan Mayrich
Need help with how to get fabric softener smell out of clothes? Try these six easy ways you can do with common household items!
We have covered everything from natural and chemical odor removers for different types of clothes. We have also discussed the cause of the fabric softener smell and the steps you can take to avoid it.
But for people who actually like the fragrance, you might be interested in this guide on how to keep your clothes smelling like fabric softeners.
6 Best Ways On How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes
A quick way to remove the fabric softener smell on clothing items is to hang them outside for more than an hour. Another option is to freeze the clothes or any other fabric products overnight.
You can also eliminate the odor by adding drops of your favorite essential oil to the washing machine when you clean your fabrics. They should help mask the fabric softener scent.
But if any of these solutions don’t solve the problem, try any of these six methods for success:
Method 1. How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes With Detergent
A detergent with enzymes is a low-effort solution to remove odors from clothing items from fabric softeners. These enzymes penetrate deep into the fabric fibers to remove all the residue left by fabric softeners that cause the smell.
- Laundry detergent with enzymes
- Hot water
- Read the laundry detergent’s label and check if it’s safe for the fabrics you’re washing
- Follow the instructions for using the detergent, but usually, you will soak the clothing items that smell like fabric softener in water and enzymatic detergent
- After at least an hour, wash the clothes as you usually would by hand or in the washer
Method 2. How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes With Vinegar
Vinegar has always been a popular household odor remover, and it’s also an effective solution for people who have a problem with the fabric softener smell on fabrics. Continue reading the tips below for using this versatile item.
- White vinegar
- Hot water
- The first way to use white vinegar to remove the fabric softener smell on clothes is to add a cup of it to your wash cycle to eliminate the residue from the fabric softener
- The second way to use white vinegar is to wash clothes in a solution of hot water and a cup of it
- You can also boil clothes in water with a few tablespoons of vinegar
- But to avoid the problem in the future, you could even substitute your fabric softener with white vinegar, but follow the guide below so there will be no sour odor on the fabrics
- If using white vinegar as a fabric softener substitute, add half a cup of it to your washer’s fabric softener compartment before the last rinse cycle
- To avoid sour smells and achieve a more pleasant smell, add a bit of your preferred essential oil to the vinegar
Method 3. How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes With Lemon Juice
Vinegar is not the only natural item that can help eliminate fabric softener smells and odors on your clothes. If you have a cup of lemon juice, it can break down residue on fabrics that cause the fabric softener smell.
- Lemon juice
- Usual washing items for the type of fabric you have
- Lemon juice is a bleach alternative, so test it on a small part of the fabric first to ensure that it won’t harm the color or fibers of your clothing
- Soak the clothes in a solution of two-thirds cup of water and one-third cup of lemon juice and wash as normal
- You can also make a paste with lemon juice and salt and target the fabric softener residues
- Let the clothes dry in the sun and wash them in the usual washer setting
Method 4. How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes Using Baking Soda
Baking soda is a popular deodorant for various household products. However, you can also use it as a solution for clothes to remove their fabric softener smells.
- Warm water
- Baking soda
- Soak the clothes in two cups of warm water and a cup of baking soda for half an hour
- Rinse as usual
- Another option is to add ¼ cup of baking soda to the wash cycle
- You can combine these baking soda steps with other fabric softener odor removal methods, such as after drying the clothes in the sun and the smell persists
Method 5. How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes With Bleach
Detergent alone and natural remedies like vinegar and lemon juice sometimes aren’t enough to remove the fabric softener smell on clothes. Therefore, you’ll need stronger chemicals like bleach but follow the steps below to use them with care and avoid damaging your fabric fibers and colors.
- Check if your clothing fabric is safe with bleach or dip a cotton swab in the bleach solution and test it on a small spot of the garment
- If the clothing material did not fade, proceed to deodorize the things with bleach
- Dilute one part of bleach to ten parts of water
- Soak the clothes with fabric softener smell in the bleach solution for several minutes
- Rinse with cold water and let the clothes dry
- You can also pour diluted bleach onto your washing machine bleach dispenser according to the label instructions of the product
Method 6. How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes Using A Commercial Odor Remover
If none of the five methods above have eliminated the fabric softener scents on your fabrics, you’ll need a commercial odor remover. The process uses it with laundry detergent, but make sure both are safe for your clothing material and dyes.
- Laundry soap
- Fabric odor remover
- The first way to use a commercial odor remover is to add the recommended amount on the label to your usual wash load
- If there is lots of fabric softener, you can soak the clothes in the odor remover before washing them as you usually would in your washing machine
- You can also do several washes with laundry soap
- It’s crucial to check what fabrics are safe with the odor remover you’re using or test it on a similar fabric to your clothes
Does Vinegar Remove Fabric Softener?
People can use vinegar to remove the fabric softener smell from their laundry. It’s also a common alternative to fabric softener, and you can add a few drops of your preferred essential oil to avoid the sour odor.
How Long Does Fabric Softener Smell Last?
You can expect the fabric softener smell to linger on clothes for as long as two days. Some people enjoy the odor of fabric softeners, while others prefer to mask or deodorize the clothes again to eliminate the residue.
A quick solution to eliminate fabric softener odor is to soak the fabrics in lukewarm water with a cup of baking soda. Or next time, make sure to bring the clothes into the sunlight and let them air-dry after washing to avoid fabric softener smells.
And for those who mistakenly sprayed too much perfume on their clothes, read how to remove the perfume smell from clothes.
What Causes Fabric Softener Smell?
Fabric softeners leave a smell on your clothes because they use a chemical layer to coat the fabrics and create a smooth and soft finish. However, it might not be the culprit if your clothes smell bad and you notice the odors after using a fabric softener.
For example, you might use fabric softener on your workout clothes, so combining sweat and grime with the fabric softener chemicals creates a foul odor. The layer left by the fabric softener also traps the dirt within the fibers, which causes a nasty smell.
How To Prevent Fabric Softener Smell From Occurring
- Switch fabric softener with baking soda or distilled vinegar
- Add wool dryer balls as your clothes dry
- Make sure your washer and dryer are clean and have no residual fabric softener
- Clean washing appliances according to the manufacturer’s manual to eliminate lingering laundry products like the fabric softener
- It’s preferred to air out laundry under the sun than to use the dryer to avoid fabric softener residues
- Consider not using fabric softeners on workout clothes to prevent the product from trapping grime after physical activities, as this causes a foul odor on clothes
Are you also having problems with chemical odors? Here’s how to get chemical smell out of clothes!
And that’s it! We hope this was a helpful article on how to get fabric softener smell out of clothes using laundry detergents, vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, bleach, or commercial odor remover.
Vinegar is often used, but you can also deodorize clothes with lemon juice or baking soda if you can’t bleach your clothing fabric. But for tough residues, you need a commercial odor remover, and ensure to practice the tips for preventing fabric softener smell on clothes and other fabric items long-term.
Want more hacks? Check this video:
2 thoughts on “How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes”
I’m a chemically-sensitive foster parent, and the kids clothes always arrive stinking of cheap detergent & or fabric softener. I can’t stand it! For each child, this is 1 or 2 full (front-loader) worth. I don’t have the time to soak them in the tub for weeks. I always use white vinegar instead of fabric softener, and use essential oils on wool dryer balls for a fresher scent.
Do you know of anything that will do the job in one try, without soaking?
I honestly don’t think so. It takes me several soakings and washings in vinegar then hanging out side for about a week to get the smell out. They still smell after washing but the sun and fresh air eventually gets the rest of it out.