How To Get Smell Out Of Black Jeans | 5 Effective Methods You Can Use Today

The best method to get the smell out of black jeans is to soak your jeans in baking soda, borax, or oxygen bleach overnight before washing and air drying. Adding white vinegar to your laundry rinse cycle and hand washing your black jeans with castile soap are also great alternatives. 

Black jeans are one of my greatest fashion triumphs. They are super comfortable and versatile; I could dress them up, combine them with several colors, and wear them all day long without washing. 

However, I noticed my black jeans sometimes smelled really bad, and I couldn’t figure out why. I washed them and tried letting them air dry, but the smell just wouldn’t go away. It was really unpleasant and strange, and it just seemed to come out of nowhere.

I wasn’t going to throw in the towel, though. My obsession for black denim gave me no choice but to find ways to keep them from looking and smelling like I’ve been wearing them all year.

Fortunately, my resilience paid off, and I found five effective methods to remove any smell from black jeans without spending a fortune on special detergents and products.

Before we dive into these simple cleaning tricks, you should know what causes your black jean to smell the way it does.

how to get smell out of black jeans

5 Reasons Why Your Black Jeans Has An Unpleasant Odour

Smell From Dyes

The putrid smell of your new black jeans is usually caused by the chemicals used in the dye. Before the signature color was achieved, many chemicals and dyes (sulfur compounds) were used to make jeans black and keep the color that way. 

The result of these chemicals is a concentrated and pungent odor.  Even with frequent washing and drying, the sulfur odor in your black jeans can be difficult to remove. However, you’ll soon find out how to get rid of it easily.

Preserving Chemicals

The funny smell on your new jeans could be caused by Formaldehyde, a preservative chemical used during the manufacturing process.

The chemical is used to prevent mold, bacteria, mildew, and other substances from damaging the fabric during storage and shipping and make the material wrinkle-free and stain-resistant.

Smell From Dirt And Sweat

Perhaps your black jeans aren’t new, and the smell isn’t caused by chemical residue. It’s probably due to how often you clean them.

Black jeans absorb odors more than other colors. When you sweat in your pants, a residue is left behind. And, if you wear black jeans for an extended period, they will absorb all kinds of odors from the fungus and bacteria that live on your body, resulting in unpleasant smells.

Smell After Wash

While washing seems like the most effective way to remove dirt and smell from your jeans, you may end up with smelly jeans after washing due to these reasons; 

  • You use too much or too little detergent.
  • You have a dirty washing machine clogged with fabric softener, detergent, and bleach residue.
  • You leave your wet jeans in the washing machine or dryer for an excessively long period, denying them the opportunity to breathe fresh air.
  • You don’t let your jeans dry entirely before folding them.

I know most of the causes of your black jean odor are out of our control, making it even more challenging to get rid of. But don’t give up on your favorite jeans just yet.

Below are simple cleaning hacks to remove the smell from your black jeans

How To Remove Chemical Smell From Your Black Jeans

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks on getting any awful stench off my black jeans 

Soaking In Baking Soda

Baking soda is a handy DIY household item. It can effectively absorb unpleasant chemical smells from your black jeans by gently lifting dirt and neutralizing the strong perspiration odors embedded in your jeans.

To get the smell out of your black jeans with baking soda;

  • Fill a bucket halfway with water.
  • Add 2 cups of baking soda into the water, and mix thoroughly.
  • Soak your black jeans in the water overnight.
  • Remove your jeans and wash them in your washing machine as usual.
  • Add 1/2 cup baking soda to the rinse cycle once more.
  • Allow your jeans to air-dry completely.

Rinse With White Vinegar

Like baking soda, white vinegar is another deodorizing agent that will remove chemical smell without harming your jeans. You should use a white vinegar solution during the rinse cycle.

Here is how to get started;

  • Add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the washing machine at the start of the rinse cycle.
  • Stop the washer and allow the jeans to soak for 30-60 minutes.
  • Complete the rinse cycle twice: once with the vinegar solution and once with ordinary water.
  • Allow your black jeans to air dry completely.

Precaution: Do not mix vinegar and baking soda because they cancel each other out. 

Use Borax To Remove Chemical And Fungi Smell

Borax works as a laundry softener and deodorizer. It’s essentially effective at removing fungi and chemical odors from your black jeans. And it’s available in almost every laundry store.

It’s a great alternative to baking soda and can be used the same way. However, it produces a small amount of hydrogen peroxide, which can cause your black jeans to fade over time.

  • Add 1/2 cup borax with water in a bucket.
  • Soak a pair of black jeans in the water for 4 hours.
  • Remove your jeans and wash them with an unscented laundry detergent.
  • Hang your black jeans outside to air dry completely. 

Hand Wash Your Black Jeans With Castile Soap

Castile soap is an effective cleaner for removing dye-like odors. You can handwash your stinky black jeans with Castile soap (such as Dr. Bronners) instead of regular laundry detergent.

To get started; 

  • Fill a sink or bucket halfway with cold water. Make sure it’s enough to completely submerge your jeans.
  • Add two tablespoons of liquid castile soap to the water.
  • Allow jeans to soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Hand-wash your black jeans.
  • Rinse thoroughly until all soap residue is removed.
  • If the pungent odor remains after the first wash, rewash the jeans.

Soak With Oxygen Bleach (OxiClean)

Oxygen bleach is not as harsh as chlorine bleach which makes it safer to use on your black jeans. However, because it is still a bleach product, expect your black jeans to fade slightly if you use too much of it. 

This method is often my last resort, and Oxiclean is my go-to brand of laundry oxygen bleach. 

To use the Oxiclean; 

  • Add a scoop of OxiClean to a large bowl of water large enough to submerge your jeans.
  • Place the jeans in the bucket and soak them for about 8 hours or overnight. There may be an odor while they absorb the solution, but it will disappear once washed.
  • Put on your cleaning gloves and take the jeans out of the bucket.
  • Remove any OxiClean residue from your jeans by rinsing them in cold water.
  • Load your jeans into the washing machine and wash them with your laundry detergent.

Safety Measures: 

  • Wear eye protection, a face shield, and protective gloves before use.
  • Use in a ventilated space.
  • Do not combine with other methods by mixing with vinegar or baking soda.
  • If you are using other products, ensure you refer to the manufacturer’s instruction.

Additional Tips To Washing Your New Black Jeans

The following tips will assist you in keeping odors at bay and minimize fading when you wash your black jeans.

  • Whenever you buy a new pair of jeans, make sure to dry them first. If possible, air-dry them for a few days before the first wash. This helps to reduce the odor and impact of the chemicals used during production.
  • Before wearing your black jeans for the first time, wash them at least once. This helps to remove any chemical residue from the manufacturing process.
  • Follow washing instructions on the label of your jeans. I wash my jeans inside-out to reduce fading.
  • Wash your jeans in cold water or on a cool wash cycle in your washing machine to prevent the denim from shrinking too much.
  • Wash on a gentle cycle or by hand with a detergent designed specifically for dark colors.
  • Do not dry your jeans in the machine because the heat from the dryer can cause smells to become deeply embedded within the fabric.
  • If you have other fabrics in your laundry, wash your black jeans only with other dark colors.
washing black jeans

How To Keep Your Black Jeans Smelling Fresh Without Washing

After you wash your black jeans and remove the chemical odor, you shouldn’t have to soak and wash your jeans in bleach all the time to keep them smelling fresh.

Here are a few tricks I use to keep my black jeans appealing without the stress of constant washing

Sun-Dry Your Jeans

The sun’s rays are incredibly effective at breaking down the chemicals that cause your jeans to smell and can save you a lot of laundry time.

  • Hang your jeans on the clothesline and leave them in the open air for at least four hours.
  • You can also spray vinegar on your jeans to enhance the effect of sunlight.

Quick Tips: Turn your jeans inside-out before sun-drying to avoid the bleaching effect of the sun’s UV light

Steam Refresh With Your Machine

If your washing machine or dryer has a ‘steam refresh’ option, you have a fantastic cleaning feature!. If you don’t already know, you should go check right now.

Your washing machine’s steam refresh setting is designed to clean and sanitize your clothes without wetting them.

To use your steaming refresh feature;

  • Place your jeans inside out in a washer or dryer.
  • Select the ‘steam refresh’ cycle on your washer or dryer.
  • Let jeans sit in the drum for 10-20 minutes.
  • Remove the jeans from the washer and hang them to dry on the clothesline.

 Spray With Vinegar And Essential Oils

Vinegar always comes through for me as a universal house cleaner. Aside from removing odors and stains, white vinegar contains acetic acid. This mild acid helps to lock in the dye within the fabric of dark jeans, reducing fading.

  • Fill a spray bottle halfway with distilled white vinegar.
  • Add your preferred essential oil product.
  • Lay your jeans flat on a clean surface and spray lightly.
  • Allow the jeans to air dry.

Don’t worry if your jeans smell like vinegar chips; the scent will magically vanish once the jeans are dry.

Spray with Vodka

It turns out that your booze may be more beneficial than you thought. Although it will not remove stains, spraying vodka on your jeans will help to remove odors and soften the fabric.

  • Fill a spray bottle with vodka. You can mix 1 part vodka with 3 parts water to reduce the concentration.
  • Spray a light mist on your jeans.
  • Allow your jeans to air dry for a few hours to get rid of the sweat stench.

FAQs On How To Get Smell Out Of Black Jeans

How Often Should I Wash My Black Jeans?

You should wash your jeans after wearing them 3-7 times, depending on how you use them. However, too much washing will cause them to wear out faster, and you’ll have to buy a new pair every year. So, you should consider using non-washing methods to keep them clean.

How Can I Restore the Blackness of My Faded Jeans?

To restore the color of faded jeans, soak them in a bucket of “Rit” dye. You can get a Rit dye at almost any big box craft store.

How Do I Get a Stain Out of My Black Jeans?

Apply a paste of baking soda or vinegar to the affected area, and brush the dirt stain with a toothbrush lightly. Then wipe with a cloth dampened in clean water and air-dry.

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