Skip to main navigation Skip to content Skip to footer

How to Remove Bad Odor from Clothes After Washing

dirty clothes in a hamper

Sometimes, even after using a scented detergent, your clothes still smell. It’s important to understand the source, so you can ensure your laundry starts to smell fresh and clean after every wash.

More from Clorox experts

Why does my laundry smell?

You might be thinking, why do my clothes smell after washing? Isn’t washing supposed to remove clothing odors?

When our body produces sweat, it reacts with the bacteria on our skin and creates a sour smell. The fibers inside our clothes absorb and trap these smelly odors in our laundry.

Folding or putting clothes away in your closet while they’re still damp can cause a sour mildew odor that is difficult to remove.

Detergent can sometimes make your clothes smell worse. Using excessive detergent creates residue, which keeps smells trapped inside the fabric of your clothes.

Related products

How do odors get trapped in fabric?

The fibers in the clothes we wear can trap and hold onto bacteria, which emits nasty odors and sour smells. Synthetic fabrics that are common in many wardrobes — such as polyester, spandex and rayon — are especially prone to trapping bacteria and odors in clothing.

How to remove bad odor from clothing after washing

If your laundry smells bad after drying, try making sure your clothes are completely dry before folding them or storing them. If the weather permits and you have a place to hang your laundry outside, line drying can leave clean clothes smelling fresher than if you put them in the dryer. Some studies have shown that due to the effects of the ozone, exposure to the sun can make fabrics produce organic compounds that give off rose and citrus-like scents.¹

Use Clorox® Laundry Sanitizer*, which kills the smelly bacteria that’s stuck in your clothes.

clean clothes hanging on a clothesline
  1. 1

    Put your smelly laundry in the machine.

    laundry room with washing machine
  2. 2

    Pour Clorox® Laundry Sanitizer into your fabric softener compartment.

    pouring sanitizer into washing machine
  3. 3

    Wash laundry with your favorite detergent as usual.

    pouring detergent into measuring cup

Clorox has a solution for all of your laundry sanitizing needs. For sanitizing your everyday loads, try Clorox® Laundry Sanitizer. If you have a tough stain, you can use Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer Pre-Treat Spray. Or if you have no time to wash, try Clorox® Fabric Sanitizer Aerosol.