How to Get Body Odor Out of Clothes - 4 Science Supported Methods

December 31, 1989 | Blog

We can’t completely eliminate body odors, no matter how hard we try. Still, no one enjoys walking around in clothes that stink to high heavens, especially when the smell originates from a combination of sweat, bodily fluids, and odor-causing bacteria.

Thankfully, there are several methods for ridding your clothes of funky smells, including difficult-to-remove smells like body odor.

Keep reading to learn how to get body odor out of clothes. But first, let’s start with the common reasons clothes may cling to body odor even after washing.

Why Your Clothes Stink of Body Odor After Washing

Washing and thorough rinsing should remove dirt and smells from clothes. But if you still have lingering body odor in your clothes after washing, the problem might be one of the following:

  1. Ineffective laundry detergent: You are using an ineffective laundry detergent to combat body odor in clothes. Most commercial detergents are formulated to remove dirt and sweat stains. But when it comes to strong odors, they simply mask the smell with fragrances that only last for a short time.
  2. You leave clothes for too long before washing: Leaving a pile of sweaty workout clothes in the hamper makes it difficult to eliminate body odors and a sweat smell. That’s because the action of bacteria on sweat continues even after you take off sweaty clothes.
  3. Your washer is dirty: Washing clothes right after taking them off is great, but they will still come out smelling funky if your washing machine is dirty.

Just in case your clothes still smell (of body odor or something else) after washing, you should check out the tips in this article.

How to Get Body Odor Out of Clothes

Method 1: Air-Dry Clothes

When you take off your clothes, make sure to air dry them whether or not they are dirty. Tossing your clothes in the laundry basket before they are completely dry allows odor causing bacteria to flourish and perpetuate bad smells.

Even if your clothes appear clean after wearing, hang them outside to get some fresh air and sunlight before storing them.

According to a 2021 study, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can reduce microorganisms in laundry hung to dry in the outdoor environment.

That said, remember that excessive exposure to sunlight can fade most fabrics, so don’t leave your clothes in the sun for too long. Thirty minutes of air-drying is enough to remove excess moisture and kill odor-causing bacteria.

Method 2: Use Odor-Removal Laundry Additives

Regular detergents are ineffective at fighting off stubborn smells from dirty clothes like stuck-on body odor. To get body odor out of your dirty clothes, you should consider using laundry additives alongside your normal detergent.

Here’s why: Laundry additives do more than just dirt and stain removal; they also eradicate odors.

Want a good-quality laundry additive? We recommend the OdorKlenz Laundry Liquid, a powerful, fast-acting laundry additive suitable for all washable fabrics. The earth-mineral composition of this chemical-free product targets and neutralizes odors on a chemical level, eradicating bad smells without fragrances or masking agents like a fabric softener may have.

Method 3: Wash Clothes in Hot Water

Like sunlight, washing your clothes in hot water can help eliminate odor-causing microorganisms to a large extent.

The science behind this is simple: odor causing bacteria and other microorganisms have a slim chance of survival in extremely hot temperatures.

Here’s how to get body odor out of clothes using this method. Set your washer to the hottest possible setting when washing and rinsing. The hot water will likely kill or neutralize a significant number of the odor-causing bacteria, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean again.

Before using this method, make sure to follow the washing instructions on your clothes label. If your clothing items can only be washed with cold or normal water, it is best to use one of the other body-odor removal methods in this list.

Method 4: Soak Clothes in Vinegar 

Lastly, you can get body odor out of your clothes using vinegar. For best results, mix one-part distilled white vinegar in four-part water and soak the clothes for a few hours.

While this is a widely-used odor-removal remedy, we recommend washing clothes by hand (instead of a washing machine) if you use the method.

That’s because the acidic content of vinegar can damage crucial components in your washing machine, particularly the seals and rubber hose. While adding vinegar to the wash cycle only once won’t likely damage the machine, continuous use is not advisable.

Tips for Preventing Body Odor Clinging to Your Clothes

women rubbing deodorant in underarms

Knowing how to get body odor out of clothes is good but preventing sweat smells from clinging to your clothes is even better.

Follow the tips below to combat or reduce foul smells in your clothes.

  • Personal hygiene plays a crucial role in body odor prevention. Showering at least once daily with soap to reduce body odor and prevent it from clinging to your clothes is important. Remember to thoroughly wash your groin and armpit when you shower.
  • Wear an antiperspirant or deodorant after your shower, especially during the day. Antiperspirants can slow down the activity of odor-causing bacteria to combat body odor.
  • Consider shaving or waxing your armpit hairs, as underarm hairs slow down sweat evaporation. The longer sweat in the armpit takes to dry, the more time bacteria have to react with the proteins in your sweat glands and produce an offensive armpit odor.
  • Clothes made from cotton, wool, and other natural fabrics are more breathable than polyester and other synthetic materials. In addition to wearing clothes made from all-natural fabric, sweat odor is less likely to get trapped if you wear loose-fitting clothing, especially during intense physical activities.
  • You may need to change your diet if your clothes are clinging to your body odor of late. The strong aroma from certain foods can find its way into your sweat glands, causing repulsive smells. A new diet may be the culprit if you notice a sudden change in your smell.