How to Take Smell Out of Clothes Without Washing: 11 Easy Methods

We’re reader-supported. The following post contains affiliate links. If you click through a link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission. We only partner with brands who share the same values as we do.

Can you freshen up clothes without washing them? Or what kills smell in clothes? If you are looking for easy ways to take the smell out of clothes without washing, we’ve got you! Read on to find 11 different methods to deodorize clothes quickly without hitting the “start” button.

Woman leaning into washing machine

Let’s be real – when it comes to the thrilling lineup of household chores, washing clothes might not be our favorite task.

We’ve all been there – the monumental struggle of separating delicates, the elusive missing sock conspiracy, and the inevitable shrinkage mystery that transforms our favorite sweater into something that would fit our pet hamster.

But what if we told you there are many easy ways to remove the smell from clothes without washing? That’s better for your clothes and the planet!

Personally, I don’t want to use my washing machine when it’s unnecessary, especially with so many ways to deodorize clothes quickly available at my disposal.

You see, washing clothes is very energy-intensive. Those cycles churning and the water heating up? On average, washers use 400 to 1,400 watts of electricity. So, using a washing machine three times a week will use about 140.4 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Yeap!

Doing laundry accounts for approximately 5% of your annual electricity usage. Also, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that washing and drying clothing accounts for 120 million tons of CO2 annually. That’s A LOT!

Most importantly, every time we hit the “Start” button, we unintentionally launch a tiny army of microplastics and fibers into the great unknown – our oceans. That’s one of the most important reasons to skip laundry day when it’s not needed and learn how to take smell out of clothes without washing instead!

To put this environmental issue into perspective, scientists in Australia published a study estimating that 9.25 to 15.86 million tons of microplastics can be found on the ocean floor. It is stated that textiles produce 35% of the microplastic pollution in the world’s oceans. That’s around 2.2 million tons of microfibers entering the ocean every year. This number makes sense when you think that each cycle of a washing machine could release more than 700,000g microscopic plastic fibers into the environment. All because of synthetic threads!

And speaking of threads, let’s talk about how our clothes also take a hit in the washer-rinse-repeat game. The friction, the tumbling, the heat – all these good-intentioned actions can lead to a case of clothes-aging before their time.

How to wash clothes without washing

So, can you freshen up clothes without washing them? Absolutely! There are tricks up our sleeves for keeping our outfits fresh without resorting to the machine’s spin cycle. If you want to learn what kills smell in clothes and how to deodorize clothes while traveling, keep reading quickly!

☀️ Hang clothes up to air in the sun

Hang your clothes outside on a sunny day, letting the ultraviolet rays work their magic in zapping away unwanted odors. Consider it a fabric sunbathing session! Sunlight, that natural purifier, works wonders to break down odorous molecules and leave your clothes with a crisp, revitalized scent. Just make sure to read your labels as prolonged sun can damage some clothing in some cases.

Hang clothes out to air

? Freeze your clothes

Cold weather enthusiasts, rejoice! Placing your clothes in the freezer for a few hours can eliminate lingering scents, thanks to the icy chill breaking down odor molecules.

When it comes to banishing pesky smells, a frosty rendezvous might be what your clothes need. The chilly temperatures lock onto odors and whisk them away into the frozen abyss. But keep in mind that you need to take them out at least 15 minutes before wearing them for obvious reasons.

? Spray clothes with vinegar

Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar, then mist your clothes lightly. Hang them up to air out, and watch as the vinegar defeats odors with its acidic charm. Alternatively, you can soak your clothes in the solution overnight. And, no, they won’t smell like vinegar.

? Use essential oils

Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil (lavender, eucalyptus, or tea tree, anyone?) with water in a spray bottle.

Spritz your garments and let nature’s fragrant wonders take the reins. Pick your favorite scent of lavender, eucalyptus, or tea tree, and deodorize clothes quickly.

? Sprinkle baking soda

A sprinkle of baking soda goes a long way. Dust it onto your clothes, leave them for a bit, then give them a shake or a light brush before wearing them. Seriously, that humble kitchen companion can tackle those lingering odors with ease.

?Use citrus peels

Citrus peels are your secret weapon. Rub a piece of lemon or orange peel on your clothes, and let the natural oils in the peel mingle with the fabric, erasing odors and replacing them with a burst of zesty freshness.

? Steam them!

A handheld steamer isn’t just known for its wrinkle-banishing duties and’s a pro at neutralizing odors. A quick pass of steam and voila, your clothes are feeling refreshed.

? Use lemon juice

When life gives you lemons, why not use them to freshen your clothes? Mix lemon juice with water in a spray bottle, then lightly spritz your clothes. Hang them outside to dry, and the sun’s UV rays amplify the odor-busting effect. Also, a simple rub of lemon or orange peel releases their zesty essential oils, which weave their way into your garments, allowing you to freshen up clothes without washing them.

Ecothes Tip Natural clothing such as organic cotton or linen are naturally moisture wicking and breathable compared to synthetic fabrics, meaning they may be more resistant to odours.

? DIY fabric Freshener

Invest in or make your own fabric freshener using distilled water and essential oils. A few sprays and your clothes are ready to face the world anew. Mix ½ cup high-proof vodka with ½ cup distilled water, 25 drops lavender essential oil, 25 drops lemon essential oil, and 10 drops tea tree essential oil to deodorize clothes quickly.

? Use herb sachets

Create sachets filled with dried herbs. Lavender, rosemary, or maybe even a hint of chamomile – choose your herbal mix and let these sachets weave their fragrant magic. As they nestle among your clothes, they release their gentle aroma, helping you freshen up clothes without washing them.

? Use dryer sheets

Give your clothes a quick rub-down with a dryer sheet – they’re not just for the dryer, you know! A gentle rub-down with a dryer sheet sends odors packing, leaving a subtle, pleasant scent in their wake.

So, whether you’re freezing out scents, misting with citrus, or crafting fragrant fabric concoctions, these 11 fantastic ways to take the smell out of clothes without washing can rejuvenate your garments quickly and sustainably.

Still eager to learn what kills smell in clothes in specific situations? Here is some additional info on how to deodorize clothes quickly.

How to remove underarm odor from clothes?

Rub a lemon slice gently over the affected area. The natural citric acid works wonders in breaking down odor molecules and leaving behind a zesty aroma.

Alternatively, you can also sprinkle a bit of baking soda over the underarm area. Let it sit for a while to absorb the unwanted smells, then brush or shake off the excess. The third is to create a paste using baking soda and lemon juice. Gently rub this concoction into the underarm area, let it sit for a bit, then rinse it out.

How to freshen clothes without washing while traveling?

How to take smell out of clothes without washing them while traveling? Easy.

Create a DIY fabric freshener by mixing water and your favorite essential oil in a travel-sized spray bottle. Spritz your clothes lightly to banish odors and spread a fragrant aura.

Another way is to craft mini sachets filled with dried herbs like lavender or rosemary. Place them among your clothes for a touch of natural freshness that’s travel-friendly and oh-so-charming.

As a precaution, you can opt for garment bags with built-in odor-neutralizing properties. These bags not only protect your clothes but also combat unwanted scents.

How to remove food smell from clothes without washing them?

A mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar is your trusty sidekick. Dab it onto the smelly areas with a cloth, then let the solution evaporate, taking the unwanted odors with it. You can also pop your clothes in a canvas bag and leave them in the freezer for a few hours. The cold temperatures help neutralize lingering odors, giving your clothes a frosty-fresh treat.

Got time? Find a well-ventilated area and hang your clothes to air them out. Letting them breathe goes a long way in dissipating food smells and replacing them with a touch of freshness.

Does vinegar make your clothes smell?

Are you thinking of using vinegar to freshen up clothes without washing them? Good call! Vinegar has a strong smell, but when used properly and in the right amounts, it can help neutralize odors rather than adding its scent to your clothes. When vinegar dries, its smell dissipates, leaving behind a fresh, odor-free fabric. However, using too much vinegar or not diluting it properly can make your clothes smell slightly vinegary until they dry completely.

We hope this guide helped you learn how to take the smell out of clothes without washing.

With these quick tricks in your arsenal, you’re equipped to tackle all types of smells on your clothes without diving into a full-fledged washing marathon.

Now that you know exactly what kills smell in clothes and how to deodorize clothes quickly, go ahead and test out the tips above. You’ll be impressed.

Looking for other eco-friendly tips? Check out our favorite articles on organic cotton underwear, and eco-friendly comforters.

Konstantina Antoniadou
Konstantina Antoniadou

Konstantina Antoniadou is a sustainability writer focused on helping conscious readers discover the best fashion, beauty & home products on the eco market. When she’s not crafting ethical shopping guides she’s either trying to perfect her roller skate dance moves, thrifting, or bingeing series for the hundredth time.

Articles: 17

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.