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How to De-Stink Your Clothes—No Washing Required

Follow these tips and you can de-stink your clothes in a pinch.

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remove odour from clothesiStock/mel-nik

Dryer sheets

“The quickest and easiest way to get the musty smell out of clothes is to layer some dryer sheets in between them when folding,” says Matthew Simko, men’s style expert from Boston. This not only works as a preemptive measure, but also works to get that ‘suitcase in the attic’ smell out of your clothes when traveling.” If you’re pressed for time, rub a dryer sheet on the garment before wearing.

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What soaks up odour better than paper? Simko says to take the previous day’s newspaper and ball it up in the sleeves, underarms, or legs of your clothing and leave overnight (or at least four hours). “The porous paper will eat up most, if not all, the odour,” he says. This trick also works for smelly shoes.

Suffer from excessive sweating? Find out if one of these medical reasons is to blame.

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Steam it

You know the old “hang-it-while-you-shower” trick for getting wrinkles out of your clothes? It works for odours too. “The steam causes the fibres in the garment to relax, essentially releasing the odour from the threads,” Simko says. “Hot shower plus clean clothes equals a happy you,” he says.

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Kitty litter

It does the trick for the litter box, so why not your closet? “When the seasons change and we’re swapping clothes out of the closet, they can often smell musty,” Simko says. Keep an open bag of kitty litter in the closet to deodorize and remove the moisture from the space.

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Fresh air and sunlight

Nothing gets a foul odour out of clothing quite like fresh air. Even if you don’t have a backyard clothesline, you can hang your item in front of an open window for an hour or so. “The air moving through the clothing along with the sunlight are the perfect natural cleaners,” says Leslie Reichert, also known as The Cleaning Coach. “Sunlight can kill bacteria because of the ultraviolet rays. Hanging your clothes outside on a nice sunny day with a gentle breeze is the easiest way to remove the bacteria that’s making them smell.”

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Nothing is better than straight, cheap vodka in a spray bottle to remove smells. “When the alcohol in the vodka evaporates it takes the smells with it,” Reichert says. She attributes this tip to Broadway. “Actors are sweating all night in their costumes and they can’t get them dry cleaned every night so they just spray them with vodka.”

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remove odour from clothesiStock/grafika

Baking soda

Just like it absorbs smells in your fridge or freezer, baking soda removes smells in clothing as well. “The baking soda acts like small sponges that absorb body oils and smells and leaves clothes smelling fresh,” Reichert says. Sprinkle the baking soda over the smelly areas, let it sit as long as you can and then shake off the powder. Check out these additional brilliant uses for baking soda.

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The cold temperature kills bacteria that can cause stinky clothing. “You can place your clothing in a plastic bag and set it in the freezer,” Reichert says. This technique is great for jeans, which shouldn’t be washed after every wear.

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Just like you can freeze your clothes to kill germs and bacteria that cause smells, you can do the same by using heat. Reichert says to place your already dry clothing in the dryer and turn the temperature to the hottest setting. They only need to stay in the dryer for 10 to 15 minutes to kill allergens, bacteria, and smells.

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Deodorizing spray

Try a fabric refresher spray to neutralize odours. You can also try a DIY version: Add 16 ounces of witch hazel to 10 to14 drops of your favourite essential oil, suggests Reichert. Just shake before using and spray your clothing for a gentle scent that will cover up the smell.

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A lot of odour removers use charcoal in their systems because odours actually bind with the charcoal and are removed from the air. Place some charcoal briquettes in the bottom of a paper bag and add the clothing on top, then close tightly and let it sit overnight. You can also place briquettes in shoes and boots to get rid of foot odours.

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Distilled white vinegar

Are your clothes smelly in a particular spot and you need a quick fix? Reichert says to use distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle mixed with 10 drops of your favourite essential oil for a great spot fix. “Shake the spray bottle to mix up the oils throughout the vinegar and spray on any spots that smell. The vinegar will work to kill 98 percent of the bacteria and the essential oil will work to cover up the vinegar smell,” she says. You can also spray the entire piece of clothing if needed.

Now that you’ve read up on how to remove odour from clothes, next check the vinegar cleaning hacks that’ll save you money.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest