How to Remove Sweat Odors From Dry-Clean-Only Clothes

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Drycleaning will not always remove organic smells, such as sweat odor.
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Dry-clean-only clothes have long memories. Wear a wool blazer to one meeting in a hot room, and months later, it will still faintly smell of sweat. There are a few ways to deodorize dry-clean-only clothes at home. If you love a stiff martini and/or have a cat, you already have everything you need on hand.


Using Vodka on Sweat Odors

Perhaps the most effective way to remove sweat odor from dry-clean-only clothing is a trick long favored by theater costumers. Costumes worn over and over for stage performances get sweaty but can't be washed often if at all. The vodka method that costumers use to quickly banish odors can also be used at home to deodorize dry-clean-only clothes.


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This method couldn't be simpler. Turn the garment inside out and hang it up. Pour a little vodka in a spray bottle, set the nozzle to a spritz setting and spritz the liquid all over the affected areas. The goal is just to mist the fabric but not to get it wet. Let the clothing air dry in a ventilated room.


Vodka works to remove sweat odor from dry-clean-only clothes because it kills stinky bacteria, and the smell should dissipate as soon as the vodka evaporates. No vodka odor should remain. Any kind of vodka can be used for this purpose as long as it's not artificially flavored/scented, so go ahead and use the cheapest kind you can find. Don't dilute the vodka with water.


Using Kitty Litter

Kitty litter is designed to deodorize the area where cats do their business, so it's no surprise that this substance can also deodorize dry-clean-only clothes. It's ideal for treating odors that linger after you've tried vodka or for materials that are so delicate that you don't want to risk dampening them with vodka. The kitty litter method allows your dry-clean-only clothes to stay completely dry.


The easiest way to do this is to submerge the offending garment in litter. It may not be glamorous to stick your best clothes in a plastic bag or bin and shovel kitty litter on top, but this strategy gives you the best chance of banishing those baked-in smells for good. Make sure the clothing is completely covered by the litter and let it sit that way for 24 hours.


Alternatively, protect very delicate fabrics by tying up these items in an unscented plastic bag. Poke a few holes in the bag and bury the entire thing in litter. The ventilation holes will allow the litter to work without letting it actually touch the fabric.

Other Methods to Deodorize Dry-Clean-Only Clothes

While vodka and kitty litter are the top ways to remove sweat odor from dry-clean-only garments, they're not the only ways. An alternative to using vodka is spritzing clothing with a mixture of white vinegar and water. The smell will be strong, so let garments dry outdoors in the sun if possible or in a well-ventilated area. You may have to use enough of the liquid to slightly dampen the fabric, so don't use this method for deodorizing silk or another very delicate fabric.


Deodorizing sprays sold for treating pet urine may also yield positive results when spritzed on smelly areas of clothing. Sticking dry-clean-only clothing in the freezer (wrapped in bags) is another option. It won't permanently rid the fabric of smells, but it may kill some of the bacteria that creates that telltale sweat odor.


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