How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes | 5 Easy Steps

To remove the scent of fabric softener from your clothes, Soak your clothes in a bathtub with baking soda solution and leave overnight. Load them in your washing machine and wash with an unscented detergent, rinse with distilled white vinegar in your first rinse cycle, air-dry your clothes, and repeat the processes if needed.

I do a lot of my laundry with fabric softeners. It helps keep my cloth soft and wrinkle-free; however, that comes with a price because I am scent sensitive.

The softener has an acrid smell that just won’t quit and sometimes makes me want to puke, so one way or the other, I have had to figure out ways to get the fabric softener smell out of my clothes. 

If you struggle with severe chemical allergies like me, then I’m sure you’re also having a hard time dealing with this.

You’ve probably tried washing off the scents in hot water or using the hot setting on your dryer, but the smell just won’t go away. Well, you can stop gambling on what methods to try; I finally found what works!

Below is a secret method that has worked well for me on different clothes, so if you are willing to put in some extra effort and time. You will have one allergy less to worry about.

how to get fabric softener smell out of clothes

Five Simple Steps to Get Fabric Softener Smell Off Your Clothes

Fabric softener works by coating your fiber with a silicone formula to keep your clothes soft and wrinkle-free. The result is an incredibly strong scent that is often difficult to remove. However, these steps should help you achieve great results without spending a fortune.

So let’s get started;

Materials Needed

Most of these materials could be right in your home. If not, you can easily get them in the laundry section of any supermarket near you.

  • Coldwater
  • Baking Soda
  • White Vinegar
  • Washing Machine
  • Laundry Detergent

Step 1: Soak With Baking Soda

Baking soda is a fantastic homemade cleaning agent for getting rid of tough stains and neutralizing acidic odors. 

To use baking soda as a deodorizer for your clothes:

  • Mix one cup of baking soda and four cups of water.
  • Fill a bathtub or sink with cold water and pour the solution into it.
  • Soak your cloth in the bathtub or sink filled with the baking soda solution. The sink should be large enough to completely immerse your smelly clothes.
  • Swirl them around to ensure that the clothes are completely soaked.
  • Leave clothes in the water for a few hours or overnight.

Precaution: Do not pour the baking soda directly on your clothes to avoid white residue stains.

Step 2: Wash With Unscented Detergent

After soaking your clothes in the baking soda solution, you need to wash them in your washing machine using unscented laundry detergent.

To get started;

  • Remove the pre-soaked clothes from the sink and sort them according to fabric type and color.
  • Choose the correct washing cycle for your cloth. Follow the instructions on your fabric label.
  • Set your water temperature to be moderately warm.
  • Add an unscented detergent to its dispenser. You can easily find one in a laundry store. Just check the label of your detergent to ensure that it’s made of scent-free chemicals.
  • Load the machine with the right quantity of clothes, following the machine’s loading instructions.
  • Turn on the washer to start your wash cycle.

Quick Tips: Lukewarm water will most effectively remove smells and break down chemical compounds in fabric softeners. However, you can use cold water for delicate and colorful items.

Step 3: Rinse With Distilled White Vinegar

White vinegar can easily break down the chemical compounds that cause the fabric softener to smell while leaving your clothes a pleasing fragrance.

  • Add half a cup of your vinegar to your wash load during the first rinse cycle.
  • Before completing the rinse cycle, turn off the laundry machine and let the clothes soak for at least one hour.
  • Repeat the rinse process with warm water to remove any residual vinegar odor.

Your clothes may smell like vinegar while being washed. However, don’t panic; the vinegar smell will dissipate once you air dry.

Step 4: Air Dry Your Clothes

Drying clothes in a tumble dryer can trap moisture inside the fibers of your clothing. This can lead to mold growth and odor problems. 

So, here is what you should do:

  • Hang your clothes in the open air. Place them in direct sunlight or near green leafy plants to absorb odors.
  • Depending on how strong the fabric softener smell is on your clothes, leave them for 12 hours or more for the best results.
  • Keep colored clothing away from direct sunlight to avoid fading. Instead, hang them indoors in a ventilated spot.

Step 5: Repeat The Process

Sometimes, it takes several washes to remove the fabric softener smell. If the softener smell persists after the first wash, repeat steps 1-4 above.

These steps work great for me every time. However, If you keep noticing the lingering chemical smell of fabric softener clinging to your clothes after every laundry section, you have a sneaky culprit to blame, and here is how to prevent them.

woman smelling fresh clean clothes

How to Prevent the Smell of Fabric Softener from Sticking to Your Clothes the Next Time

Reduce Fabric Softener Use.

Excessive use of fabric softener can sometimes be the source of the musty smell on your clothes. To keep the fragrance moderate, use less (or no) fabric softener the next time you wash your clothes.

Use Scent-Free Fabric Softener.

There are numerous scent-free softeners on the market today. All of which have the same powerful ability to soften your clothes without leaving any overpowering odors.

Replace Fabric Softener With Vinegar Solution.

Vinegar does not contain the harsh chemicals found in commercial fabric softeners. However, it is strong enough to dissolve the soap residue, which aids in softening your clothes.

Simply add one-half cup of white vinegar to the final rinse cycle to unwind and refresh your clothes.

Clean Your Laundry Machine.

Your washer should clean your clothes, not stain or give them a fetid smell. If your clothes become stained or smelly after washing, even when no fabric softener is used, you need to clean your washer. 

To deodorize your washing machine, run it through a complete wash cycle without laundry, using hot water, vinegar, and baking soda.

Clean Your Softener Dispenser.

If you have a washer with an automatic fabric dispenser, you should flush the dispenser with heated distilled white vinegar or very hot water, followed by a rinse cycle with no clothes in the washer. You’ll be amazed at the chunk of fabric softener residue that will fall out.

FAQs On How To Get Fabric Softener Smell Out Of Clothes

Why Do My Clothes Smell After They’ve Been Washed?

Common sources of unpleasant odors after washing include poor detergent, fabric softener residue, and mildew formation. Try using a mild detergent, avoid excess fabric softeners and ensure you properly dry your clothes.

How Do I Get The Smell Of Fabric Softener Out Of My Dryer?

Run your washing machine through a complete wash cycle without clothes. Add vinegar and hot water solution to the dryer to get rid of the smell. Give the washer a final rinse with hot water to remove vinegar residue. Then, wipe properly with a dry cloth.

Scroll to Top