61 answers

Can't Get B.O. Out of Nice Shirt!

Hi, everyone,
This is really embarrassing, but I can't get a bad B.O. smell out of a nice shirt. A friend handed it down to me and I don't want to toss it out. I most certainly don't want to let her know it stinks to high heaven -- she's so clean and tidy, it's absolutely out of character for her. But I can't get the smell out of the darn shirt! I tried soaking in detergent, two bouts of Febreeze, and a whole lot of washing. No luck. I thought of trying an oxy-action soaking product I use for diapers and post-flu yuckiness, but I'm worried it will take the color out of the shirt. Ugh. Any ideas?

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So What Happened?™

Brilliant!!! You all are the best! How funny is this: I'm taking all my new Stink-Killer ideas and dashing out to the washer like a kid on the first day of summer! Thanks so much. I have vinegar on hand and baking soda, as well-- and yup, I grew up with good ol' 20 Mule Team Borax, house-mommy's best friend, I'd say!

Great advice about line-drying -- I line dry every sunny chance and swear by it. Good for the planet, good for me, great 'floating fort' for the kids! Thanks again everyone -- what a great team of moms we are! :-)

Featured Answers

When I was in high school and was bothered by prespiration odor in my blouses, my Mom would tell me to use vinegar water solution. It helped....Something about chemistry: acids and bases and ph values

Try soaking it in white vinegar, it won't affect the color and might neutralize the odor. Try one part vinegar to 5 parts water. Soak it for at least 15 minutes but don't worry if you leave it longer. Then give it a regular wash, with a little softner.

I would try vinegar...won't damage the color and helps get out odors...also doubles as a fabric softener.

More Answers

soak it in white vinegar. for more suggestions, check out the "hints from heloise" website: www.heloise.com

1 mom found this helpful

vodka cut w/ water...spray it on. friend of mine works in theatre and they cant wash the costumes and thats what they use!

1 mom found this helpful

Dear D.,

One thing I've tried (I have this issue with my teenagers' clothes - and I hate that MY clothes come out of the laundry smelling like THEIR armpits!!!!) is Soilove. I get it at Ralph's - Albertson's doesn't seem to carry it, sometimes you can find it at the 99 cent store. It comes in a green bottle. Be careful, I believe it says to do a color safe test first. (I use it every time I wash whites and use it in conjunction with Fels Naphtha soap on our menstral accidents. - and sometimes on my kids t-shirts' armpits . . . ) May be worth a try . . .

Good luck,

1 mom found this helpful

Baking soda removes all odors.

1 mom found this helpful

Soak it in hot water and vinegar. Put it in the sink with a really concentrated mix of hot water and white vinegar and let it soak for several hours, then wash it. If that won't get it out, nothing will!

Try some vinegar, I know that sounds like just another odor to add to the shirt, but I have found that vinegar helps in many odorous situations. Soak the shirt for 30 minutes or so and then try washing as usual. The odor may not come out because the shirt was washed and dried before checking to see if the odor was out, not your fault, probably due to the friends washing. Once a garmet is dried in a dryer then stains and odors are usually set in and may never come out. So try the vinegar, what have you got to loose at this point.

Amen to that question!

Add to it: How to get the smell out of clothes that go to the dry cleaner AND how to get deoderant stains out!

C. R

I think the Oxi-cleans your best bet.....I've never seen it take colour out of garmets....

Try white vinegar and baking soda. I put it in my washer with every load, with my laundry soap. S.

Dry cleaners- explain to them the issue and they can fix it.

D., try soaking this shirt that smells like bq in the tub of the washer,on low medium temp. Put one box, or half of baking soda. Let it stay for a few hrs.depending how strong the odor is.i do housecleaning. I use baking soda for odors. Good luck rose

Maybe try a little tea tree oil in the rinse cycle? This is what I used for cloth diapers. (just a drop)


Maybe even Sport Wash, you can find it in the hunting section at Walmart or I just saw some at my local running store.

Yea, I don't think I'd mention it to her. Maybe that is why she gave it away?? LOL
Good luck,

have you tried soaking it in baking soda??? or.. worst case .. may sound like a dumb idea but.. if it works for cat piss... have you tried that stuff they sell at pet shops to get the smell of cat piss out of things? im assuming that if it works on that, it will work on most anything!

Try washing it using Borax, I don't know if it will work, but it shouldn't affect the color and it has a very nice fresh odor. If you are unfamiliar it come in a box similiar to clothing soap and is found in the stores in that aisle. Let me know if it works.

I'm pretty certain that white vinegar will take that smell out, you may have to try a couple of times with a little soak in that area but it's worked for me with cat pee which is even worse that BO! good luck!
M. from Reno

white vinegar . .a grandmother secret :)

Hi Danna,
I have never had to deal with something lke this, but try lemon and sunshine. It works for mold. Good luck.

Hi D.!
This always works for me with any bad smells....
Launder the shirt as usual but during the rinse cycle( once the tub is filled with water) add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 box of baking soda.....the vinegar and baking soda when mixed start to bubble up so don't be alarmed.
Let the rinse cycle finish and start over once more with fabric softener!
Works everytime!

Try baking soda or vinegar, soak it, then rewash.

Try soaking it in white vinegar, it won't affect the color and might neutralize the odor. Try one part vinegar to 5 parts water. Soak it for at least 15 minutes but don't worry if you leave it longer. Then give it a regular wash, with a little softner.

Baking soda is recommended in the wash for cloth diapers and then a rinse with vinegar. I am sure if it works on dirty diapers there is a chance it can help with your shirt.

If baking soda and vinegar don't work, try tea tree oil. Add several drops to the water. If that doesn't work, try a product called "Bac-Out" from BioKleen (sold at health food stores). It's a very popular product for cloth-diapering mamas, and it gets out the worst kind of stink.

Aloha D.,

I've gotten smells out of clothing (& cloth diapers) two different ways. One way is to soak it in Basic-G. Besides being a germicide/fungicide/virucide, it also deodorizes. Nobody ever realized that our cloth diaper soaking bucket was kept right in the living room! Here is information about it: http://www.shaklee.net/sarahs/product/00525

I also use an AirSource purifier and it removes the different odors from clothing (including cigarette smells that seem to get stuck in clothing) and it keeps my store smelling nice....I have a clothing consignment store and I can always tells who is a smoker just from the smell of the things they bring in. If it wasn't for the AirSource, my store would smell bad. You can read more about it at http://www.HealthyOhana.net where it says fresh air.

I hope this helps,


I have some great laundry products. If you are interested, email me back and I will email you with the link.

Try a paste of baking soda and rubbing alcohol on the arm pits and put it in a ziploc bag over night. If that doesn't work, spray on household "sudsy" ammonia (a drop or two of detergent mixed with ammonia) and put it in a ziploc baggie for at least a few hours. This is only good for fabrics that are NOT silk or wool.
Other options for removing bad laundry smells is to sprinkle something called "Odorz Out" over the offending garment and expose it to air to allow the crystals to absorb the smell. Then launder. It is non-toxic and safe for pets and kids. You can find it at PetsMart - it's marketed for pet stains, but works for anything. Good luck.

Maybe white vinegar, diluted of coarse. Then rinse with water and baking soda. The carpet had flooded and had a horrible mildew smell and Grandma suggested vinegar, then baking soda and it worked! N., Mom of 4

Just one thing - if you use vinegar, make sure you don't use baking soda at the same time. If you do both it will smell SO much worse. At least try them one at a time in different wash cycles. Good luck!

They have oxi-clean for darks or try baking soda paste right on it.

How about nature's miracle? Do you have pets? Its this enzyme solution you can by at the pet store that you use to clean up dog urine spot on furniture and carpet. I've read that people put it in the wash to get baby messes up too. Its worth a try. I've seen it on Amazon.com too. Read the reviews, it gives you a lot of tips.

soak it in vinegar before washing it

You can try soaking it in baking soda. You can also try white vinegar. If neither of those work look for Simple Green. It comes in a spray bottle and I've purchased it before at Home Depot.
Iwork in the theater. We do lots of stinky laundry.

First of all, is there a spot or two where the smell is most coming from or is it just all of the shirt? If it is a spot, then I would treat the spots specifically and then wash them. I have had the best luck with my husbands white work shirts and the Tide liquid with Downey in it. Everything smells wonderful coming out and his underarm stains and smell come out too! These are work shirts that are just like mens dress shirts. I cannot bleach them because of the one patch on it that signifies who he works for. Since this new Tide, I have not had to bleach anything nor have my colors been dimmed by it. Good luck.

Have you tried presoaking in vinegar? Seriously. I have the spray kind (comes in a yellow bottle) and I use it when my son has a BM accident and it comes out just fine. We've used it on underarm issues, too. Worth a try.

soak it in vinegar.

I haven't tried this yet myself, but my friend SWEARS by it... white vinegar. She used it as fabric softener and says it works better by far than any commercial product. I'm going to try it on some stains, but haven't yet done so. Good luck and if I try it first, I'll let you know how it works! :) R.

Try Simple Green. It seems to get vomit smells out and it may work for that too!
Good Luck

Try soaking it in white distilled vineagar. That gets out a multitude of things. :)

only thing that comes to mind is White Vinegar. Straight. Its cheap. Won't mess up colors And maybe even some baking soda. Google the Multiple Uses of Vinegar and Baking Soda, they are safe and natural

If something really smells then there is still bacteria there. Tackle it from that angle.

sorry I didn't see this sooner, but try using a splash (or two or three depending on the load size) of Ammonia. I use it on all of my daughter's shirts because she has the same problem. It sounds weird, but trust me, it works, and you will NEVER smell the ammonia on the clothes, they actually come out smelling very fresh. :) I hope I'm not too late with the advice!
p.s. I just read the other responses and wanted to add, if you wanted to use the Soilove product, it's available at the 99 cent store, don't bother paying too much for it anywhere else!!! It's a very popular item, and a lot of people I know that use it swear by it, but I'm not sure how it works on odors, only stains.

Wash it in vinegar. That's recommended for getting musty smells out of old shirts and stuff all the time.

Try soaking in vinigar and then washing.

Hi D.,

Try using white vinegar. Also check out the Oxy clean stuff, it might be ok to use with colours. I don't think it's harsh like bleach. The vinegar should help. Also you could try using some washing up liquid like Dawn with the vinegar. For some reason I find that it gets stains out better than using clothing stain stuff. Just use it under the arms with the vinegar where it's pongy, mush it all in, you might have to use a little warm water, and then leave it soaking for a while.

Good luck.

I would try vinegar...won't damage the color and helps get out odors...also doubles as a fabric softener.

Get some vodka and soak the armpits (or wherever you think it's coming from). Let it dry then toss it in the wash. Good luck!

Either baking soda or boraxo does a good job removing orders. And then after the wash cycle, use liquid fabric softener. Good luck.

I had a similar problem when someone gave me a maternity shirt that reeked. An experienced mom on another list told me to try Biz, and it worked! I had never used Biz for anything -- now I use it for all my pre-soak stuff. A good stain remover, though I don't know what it'll do for odors, is Totally Toddler pre-wash that you can buy at Babies R Us. It is cheap too! But try the Biz -- it completely got the awful smell out of a shirt someone gave me.

Have you tried adding vinegar to your wash cycle?

L. E

Try Vinegar in the wash cycle. ALways gets bad smell out of my clothes and towels that get that musty smell. Use about a cup or more if you want. Good luck.


You could try dry cleaning it or oxycleaning it (soak it for a few days) and you could try soaking it and washing it with a bit of baking soda or even a cap full of bleach.

From my perspective, if you can't wear it because it smells so bad then you have little to lose by trying a few different things to get the smell out. If you ruin it, you haven't lost anything but a smelly shirt.

I've used oxyclean on tons of stuff and I've only had it fade one item (a bright blue baby outfit). So it can happen but usually doesn't.


Hi D.:

Try soaking it in lemon juice. Real lemons and water over night. Cut up some lemons and fill a bucket or the sink in water. Throw some of the lemon juice directly in the water then throw the rest of the lemons in, then soak the shirt.

Hi D.-
Maybe try soaking it in some Baking Soda (and warm water) then wash with detergent and some Oxy Clean.

Hope that works!

K. C.

hi D.,
I shop at a Wellness company and their laundry line is AMAZING.
We get all sorts of odors out of stuff around here!
Let me know if you'd like to hear about what they have to offer!

I use a product that has worked on removing old sharpie mishaps from my kids clothes as well as yellow pit stains from my husband's undershirts, it should definitely remove smells and it is very gentle on all types of clothing.

It is like OxiClean on steroids! It is in the new family of GREEN cleaners that are popping up everywhere, so you get to help the planet too. Here's a link:

Good luck!

Hi D.,
I had the same problem with my shirts and a neighbor recommended a product called Soilove. It is in a green bottle, you may have seen it in grocery stores. I pre-wash my shirts with it and concentrate on the underarm areas and it works great. It will leave your shirts with no smell. It also removes stains.

Try a little baking soda. Take a corner that won't show and dip it in a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda to 3 cups warm water. (for the trial mix less) Dip in a corner and work it with your fingers. Baking soda is a natural detergent and deoderizer. That helped me get the smell of smoke and cats out of a jacket given to me.

Try plain old blue dawn (dish soap)....douse the area and wash as normal... I know it sounds weird but it works wonders for many stains and odors...good luck

Soak the shirt in white vinegar & the smell will dispell!

R. Barber
Wonderful WIT

How about a good soak in plain vinegar? Good luck.

Hello D.,

You should try to use Apple Cidar Vinegar. It will take all of the detergent out and should stop your shirt from the smell. You can use just the cidar and use your detergent with it. It should do the trick use your softner too. Pour it in after you put the soap in or use it in the middle of the cycle. Good Luck.

That oxy action stuff doesn't bleed color and is probably your best bet to get the smell out- I used it on my super nice comfortor when I threw up on it and couldn't get the smell out otherwise- I just soaked it for a while, then rinsed it and the smell was gone! And, in your friend's defense, I've had that happen to a shirt when it got wet and sat too long, and it was really hard to get the smell out, but it smelled just like BO!

When I was in high school and was bothered by prespiration odor in my blouses, my Mom would tell me to use vinegar water solution. It helped....Something about chemistry: acids and bases and ph values

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