If you've ever been in a smoke-filled bar, you know how odor frequently lingers in clothing. You must remove unpleasant smells of cigarette smoke, food or gasoline from a favorite shirt, jacket or pair of pants before wearing again. While washing clothing in a traditional washing machine will help you eliminate some odors, several home remedies assist with the task.
If you have a smelly oil-based substance such as gasoline in your clothes, adding a washable oil before washing it normally will help remove the scent. Add baby oil to the water in the washing machine and let the clothing soak for several minutes before adding your regular detergent. The baby oil should remove the gas or oil smell. To avoid risk of fire, run the washer a second time for a normal wash cycle before placing in dryer, or hang up the clothes to dry. Never place gasoline-contaminated clothing in the dryer because even a small amount of fumes could start a fire inside the dryer.
White vinegar is a strong deodorizer and the vinegar scent dissipates in minutes. Small odors or localized stains can be sprayed with a mixture of water and white vinegar and that should remove the scent of the offending smell. A 25 percent mixture of vinegar to water is effective in most circumstances, but a larger amount can be used for stronger odors. If a severe odor is not going away, pour a cup of white vinegar in with the detergent and wash the clothing separately from other garments.
If your clothes have a faint odor of food or another substance but otherwise do not need to be washed, place them in the dryer with a dryer sheet. The dryer sheet will help your clothing smell fresher, and the combination of the heat and the dryer sheet will eliminate many mild odors. Five or 10 minutes in the dryer should get rid of most unwanted scents that are mild. Do not use this method if the clothes have a gas or oil smell to them because those substances are flammable.
Ventiliation and Sunlight
Airing out clothing in the sun is an efficient way of removing many strong odors such as smoke from a jacket. Airflow helps the odors out of the fabric naturally while direct sunlight kills mold and mildew. The sun also has bleaching power so the combination of ventilation and sunlight helps to lessen or eliminate even the strongest odors within a few hours.
Two cups of baking soda added to your usual laundry detergent assists in removing nearly any type of odor from most washable fabrics. Baking soda should not damage clothing or affect the color, so it is a useful deodorizer that is safe under most circumstances. It is also cheap, easy to get and non-toxic.