How to Deodorize Clothing Without Washing

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Environmental odors, such as those in fried food oil, can seep into clothing.
Environmental odors, such as those in fried food oil, can seep into clothing.

Refreshing clothing with deodorizers can delay dry cleaning or washing unsoiled items. Clothing fibers pick up odor molecules from the air and retain them for hours, days or months depending on the cause. Even new clothing has an odor which can be caused by the chemicals used in the garment's production. You can purchase a variety of commercial fabric deodorizers, such as Febreeze, to complete this task, but there are also several home-remedy alternatives which may be quicker, cheaper and safer on your clothing.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial fabric deodorizing spray
  • Vodka
  • Spritzer bottle
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda

Step 1

Hang clothing outside or in front of a window or fan. Circulating air through the fabric can often weaken or remove odors. This method is safe on all fabrics, though direct sunlight can cause the dye in fabric to fade. For best results, hang clothing in a shaded area.

Step 2

Apply a commercial fabric deodorizing spray to the odorous item. These sprays may damage some fabrics, so check the deodorizer's label for warnings. Test the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the clothing such as the underarm on the inside of a pocket, before using the product on the entire garment. Allow the garment to dry completely before wearing or storing.

Step 3

Pour vodka into a spritzer bottle and spray onto the garment. The alcohol in vodka kills bacteria that cause odors and, unlike commercial fabric deodorizers, leaves no residual scent. However, vodka is not safe on all fabrics. Test the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the clothing such as the underarm on the inside of a pocket, before using the product on the entire garment. Allow the garment to dry completely before wearing or storing.

Step 4

Fill your bathtub or a large basin with steaming water and 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Hang the clothing over the water until it is no longer steaming. Repeat as needed until the odor is suitably weakened or removed.

Step 5

Prevent odors from accumulating on your clothes by keeping a container of baking soda inside your closet. One common use for baking soda is to absorb food odors in the refrigerator, preventing, for example, an onion from tainting a loaf of bread. The baking soda will perform the same function in your closet, absorbing existing odors inside and inhibiting the spread of odors from one item of clothing from spreading to others. This can be especially useful if you keep dirty laundry with clean clothes.

Tip

  • Some odors, such as smoke or mildew, may require professional cleaning to eliminate.

References

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