How to Get Bad Odors Out of Clothes and Linens

Things You'll Need

  • Distilled white vinegar

  • Borax

  • Baking soda

  • Oxygenating cleaning product

  • Table salt

Bad odors come from many sources.

When dirty clothes and bedding develop bad odors, the causes can be many, ranging from pets and cooking to athletic and sporting activity and diaper leakage from infants and toddlers. Whatever the odor and whatever its source, there are a variety of simple solutions that will soon have your clothes and linens smelling fresh and clean.

Step 1

Sort your laundry as usual and loosely fill your washing machine. Turn the setting to the appropriate load size and set the water temperature to as hot as the garments will allow. Sheets typically are fine in hot water. Let the machine fill with water.

Step 2

Add ½ to 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to each load. Run the garments through one complete cycle. Check to see if the odors have been eliminated.

Step 3

Repeat the washing cycle using vinegar again, or substitute 1 cup of borax or baking soda. You may also use an oxygenating cleaning product; use the amount recommended by the manufacturer. Check again once the wash cycle is complete. One of these products should work, and may remove stains, too.

Step 4

Soak anything that has a particularly stubborn smell. Add 1 cup of table salt to the water. Let the items sit in the water overnight, if possible. Rinse and rewash as needed.


Lavender, rose, tea tree and citrus essential oils can also help with odor issues.