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How to Get Chemical Smell Out of Clothes

There are a variety of reasons that you might use chemicals, from cleaning to gardening and even in your workplace. With a variety of chemicals comes a variety of chemical smells. These smells can get on your clothes through spills or just through poor ventilation and can be hard to get out. So how do you get chemical smells out of clothes?

The most effective ways to get rid of chemical smells on clothes are baking soda, Borax, castile soap, white vinegar, and oxygen bleach. Using these methods and then washing your clothes afterward is sure to get the smell out. There are also ways o get the smell out without washing your clothes.

In this article, I’ll discuss various ways that chemical smells can get on your clothes. Then, I’ll explain how to get the smells out by using different products to pre-treat and then wash the clothes. I’ll also suggest methods to get the smell out without washing the clothes.

How to Get Chemical Smell Out of Clothes

What Causes Chemical Smells on Clothes?

A variety of things can cause the smell of chemicals on clothes. A common cause is that you spilled a certain chemical on the clothing while working or using the chemical around your home. In that case, you would know what caused the smell if the spill was large.

But sometimes, you may not be aware that you spilled something. Or, the smell could have gotten on the clothes due to poor ventilation in a particular area. You may not always know where the chemical smell came from or even what it is.

If your clothes are brand new, they may have a chemical smell. This smell is usually caused by the chemicals used on them during manufacturing. Sometimes, manufacturers use chemicals on clothes to make them more colorfast or fire-resistant, for example. The smell can remain on the clothes after manufacturing up until they are washed for the first time.

Do Chemical Smells Wash Out of Clothes?

Some chemical smells may wash out of clothes, but it depends on the chemical. Chemicals used in clothing manufacturing may wash out since they often aren’t as strong as other types of chemicals used for cleaning.

Stronger chemical smells may not wash out easily, even if the chemical itself washes out. You’ll need to pre-treat the clothing before washing it to remove the smells. After pre-treating, you can wash the clothes again and the smell should be gone. Or, there are ways to remove the smell without washing the clothes.

How to Get Chemical Smell Out of Clothes

The best way to get the chemical smell out of clothes is to wash the clothes first. That way, you can at least get the chemical rinsed out so that it doesn’t cause damage to the clothes. After washing the clothing, if the smell doesn’t come out, you can try one of the following pre-treatment methods to get the smell out.

1. Baking Soda

Baking sodaThe first way to get the chemical smell out of clothes is to use baking soda. Baking soda absorbs odors, so this may be the most effective way to get the chemical smell out of your clothes.

To use this method, you’ll want to fill a sink or washtub with water. Add 2 cups of baking soda to the water and stir until it dissolves. Then, add the clothing to the water. Let the clothing soak overnight. Finally, wash the clothing as you normally would. You can add 1 cup of baking soda to the wash to be safe if you prefer. After washing, let the clothing dry.

2. Borax

Milliard Borax Powder Laundry Booster, Pure Natural Multipurpose Cleaner and Detergent, 1 lb - UnscentedAnother effective way to get the chemical smell out of clothes is to use Borax. Borax works with your laundry detergent to remove odors and boost the cleaning power of your laundry detergent. It can absorb the chemical odor and leave your clothes fresher after washing.

To use it, just add about 1 cup of Borax to the washing machine on top of your clothes. Add your laundry detergent. For extra strong chemical odors, it won’t hurt to add some baking soda to the wash as well. Then, just wash and dry the clothing as you normally would.

3. Castile Soap

Vermont Castile Soap Unscented, Gentle Liquid Soap for Sensitive Skin & Natural Body Wash, Organic Hair Shampoo for Oily Hair, Aloe Castile Soap for Men & Women - 64 OzCastile soap is not something that everyone has on hand. However, if you don’t have it and want to use this method, you can easily find it in the laundry aisle of pretty much any store. This method does require a little more work because it involves washing the clothes by hand to be the most effective. But, it works especially well for getting the chemical smell out of new jeans.

First, fill a washtub or sink with water. Add about ½ cup of castile soap to the water. Add your clothing or jeans, then let them soak for up to 30 minutes. After soaking, wash the clothing by hand. Finally, run the clothing under clean water to rinse the soap out. Repeat soaking, washing, and rinsing as necessary until the smell is gone. Then, allow the clothing to dry.

4. White Vinegar

VinegarDue to the acidic properties of white vinegar, it is great at breaking down tough odors, including chemical smells. But, it can also leave behind a smell itself, so you want to make sure to dilute it enough so that it doesn’t leave a smell behind.

To use it:

  1. Fill a sink or washtub with cold water.
  2. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the water and stir it around so that it mixes in evenly.
  3. Add the clothing to the water and allow them to soak for about an hour.
  4. Rinse the vinegar out of the clothing. If the chemical smell is gone, you can just allow the clothing to dry.

Or, you can wash it first, especially if there is a vinegar smell on the clothing.

5. Oxygen Bleach

BleachOne of the best ways to remove super strong chemical odors is to jump straight to using oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach is strong enough to remove tough smells without removing color from the clothes. This method also works effectively for new clothes with a chemical smell.

Even though oxygen bleach is safer to use than chlorine bleach, you’ll still want to use it carefully. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging as far as how much bleach and water you should use. Add the oxygen bleach to the water and make sure it is evenly distributed. Then, add the clothing to the water and let it soak overnight. Finally, rinse the clothing out and wash and dry it as normal.

How to Get Chemical Smell Out of Clothes Without Washing

Sometimes, the chemical smell can be removed from clothes without washing them. There are a few ways to mask or get rid of the smell that aren’t as time-consuming as pre-treating, washing, and drying the clothes. Or, these methods can work if you don’t have a washing machine at home. However, they may not be as effective or may take even longer for strong smells.


One way to get the chemical smell out of clothing without washing it is sunlight. However, this isn’t necessarily the quickest way. You’ll first want to make sure that you have a few sunny days ahead of you before trying this method.

Then, just place the clothing on a hanger, hang it outside, or hang it on a laundry line. Let it hang outside for a few days until the smell is gone. Combining fresh air and sunlight will help the clothing air out and dissipate the smell naturally.


Another way to remove chemical smells from clothes without washing is to use vodka. This is a very fast but effective method. All you need to do is pour some vodka into a spray bottle. Vodka that is 70-proof or higher works best, and you can use inexpensive vodka instead of using expensive stuff for this.

Just spray the vodka over the area that smells. Then, place the garment in the dryer to allow it to dry if you’re in a hurry. Or, if you aren’t in as big of a hurry, let the clothing air dry in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.

Coffee Grounds

You can also use coffee grounds to absorb and remove chemical smells on clothes. But, this isn’t the fastest way, as it takes a bit longer for the smell to be removed completely. First, you’ll just need to find a brown paper bag that is large enough to fit the clothing inside of it.

Then, add some coffee grounds to the bag. Wrap the clothing up in tissue paper so that the coffee grounds don’t come into direct contact with the clothing. Place the clothing into the bag and roll it up. Let the bag sit for a day or two until the coffee grounds have absorbed the odor completely.


Chemical smells on clothes can be unpleasant and overpowering. Sometimes, it can be hard to even pinpoint what caused the smell in the first place. Luckily, there are several ways to remove chemical smells effectively by pre-treating and then washing the clothes. Or, in some cases, you may not even have to wash the clothing at all. If you found this article helpful, share it with others. Thanks for reading!