An Uncomplicated Life Blog: How To Get The STINK Out Of Your Clothes

Monday, July 24, 2017

How To Get The STINK Out Of Your Clothes

Whether it's workout apparel or you left a load in the washer for a day too long, use this method to get odors out of your clothes

I made a huge mistake a few weeks ago. I started a load of my laundry (as in, MY clothes only, not the kids nor the husbands) on a Friday night and forgot about it until Sunday afternoon. Why I thought I'd want to do laundry on a Friday is beyond me. Like I was actually going to remember I threw in a load, put it in the dryer and fold it all on a Friday night, right? Foolish. Anyway, I remembered it on Sunday afternoon. It smelled horrible, as I predicted. I ran the wash again, put it in the dryer in a timely fashion and... The clothes STILL stunk! Has this ever happened to you? Or have you been in a workout class when you smell something, and realize it's the "old sweat" in your workout clothes that just never seems to come out? Yeah, I've been her too. Read on for the perfect way to get that stink out of your clothes, whether it's from the gym or a forgotten load that went funky in the washer.

I had been told from my crunchy friends that vinegar gets that smell out, but I wasn't sure how to do it. I crowd sourced on my Facebook page how people use vinegar to de-stink clothes, and the responses were all about the same. Yes, use vinegar, but also use baking soda. Of course! Seriously, is there anything that stuff isn't good for?! I use it in my homemade face wash (that has completely cleared my hormonal acne - I don't wear any foundation or concealer anymore!) and it gets the smell out of your fridge if you put a box in it, so of course it'd clear out stinky clothes.

Now, my clothes smelled BAD. Not only were they forgotten in the wash but they were also mostly my workout clothes, some of which I've had for ages (because when you invest in amazing yoga pants like these, you get to keep them for 10 years and they still look great). Most people said they let it soak in their washer, but I wanted a good 24 hour soak on these stink bombs so I did mine in a bucket, because leaving clothes that long in a front loading washer has left me a little leery, and rightfully so.

Here's how to get the stink out of your clothes. You'll need:
- medium to large size bucket (like this one)
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 10 drops of essential oil (I used a blend called Purify because that one helps de-stink things, but any non-citrus oil would work)
- warm water


Start filling the bucket with warm to hot water. Add the drops of essential oil to your baking soda so that it will evenly distribute in the water. Oil and water don't mix, so you have to add the essential oil to something that will carry it through the water to evenly reach all your clothes. Add the vinegar and baking soda (it will foam up). Only fill the bucket about halfway, so you have room to add your clothes.

Let clothes soak for up to 24 hours, but at least two hours. Make sure to store away from children so they don't spill it everywhere! Then, put the clothes in a normal wash cycle with detergent like you typically would. My clothes didn't smell like vinegar, nor did they smell strongly of the essential oil I added - they just smelled like clean, fresh laundry!

How to get the STINK out of stinky clothes:

  • soak for 2 to 24 hours in a mixture of white vinegar, baking soda and essential oil
  • for really bad clothes, "pretreat" them with a paste of water and baking soda. Add a few drops of tea tree oil. Let sit for several hours before adding it to the bucket of vinegar/baking soda/EO
  • wash on a normal cycle to get clothes clean

If you've ever left your clothes in the washer too long or have stinky workout clothes, use this simple trick to get them smelling fresh again

It's pretty easy to get the stink out of your clothes, although it is a bit time consuming with the soak time. Hopefully I wont forget a load in my laundry for that long again. But if I do (and let's be honest, I will) forget and my clothes get stinky, I've got this easy way to de-stink them!


  1. I feel as if I should do this to my work out clothes every other month. They get unbearable and I just end up buying more and throwing away the old... not sustainable

  2. Thanks for sharing this! I have this problem quite often too, though it usually seems to be more to do with little kids pjs and imperfect potty training! Good to know about the baking soda and vinegar combo - I've tried vinegar before and it hadn't done the job, so I'll be trying this next time for sure!

  3. My husband and I were just talking about how to get rid of the stick from our work out clothes! We will definitely have to give this a try!

  4. I'm going to do this on Kellen's workout clothes when they get to that point of no return. And yes, baking soda is like the bomb.

  5. Such a great idea to add the essential oil! I need to do this, not only to some workout clothes, but to towels, too! Pinning!

  6. I use Mrs. Meyers Laundry scent booster and it works great! I'll try this alternative too!

  7. BRB - looking for these products so that I can use them with my workout clothes!

  8. Vinegar is my favorite household ingredient. I swear it helps with EVERYTHING. I taught my dad how to make a baking soda/vinegar paste to get stains out of stuff and he was so so so amazed. My mom used to use vinegar in a carpet cleaner and it worked to get stink out so well - I'm not surprised it works for laundry! :)

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  10. Do you air dry the clothes or put them in the dryer?

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