How to Get Sweat Smell Out of Clothes

Clothes that we wear during physical activities, like work or exercise, often face tough challenges with sweat stains and odors. This article will guide you on effective methods to clean and freshen up sweaty and smelly laundry, whether it’s a recent workout or something left in a gym bag over the weekend.

Why we experience body odor

It’s a common occurrence caused by apocrine glands, found in areas like armpits, which release molecules attracting bacteria. These bacteria break down proteins, resulting in an unpleasant smell. While body odor is normal, there are ways to manage it, such as using antiperspirants or probiotic deodorants.

Why does body odor stick to clothes even after washing?

The culprit is body sebum, which is sticky and embeds itself in fabrics, especially those made from synthetic materials common in workout clothes. Washing in hot water can help remove sebum, but many synthetics can’t withstand high temperatures.

Additionally, washing habits matter; a regular cycle with a non-specialized detergent at a standard temperature may not effectively eliminate bacteria.

To combat persistent perspiration odor, it’s crucial to learn proper cleaning methods. Otherwise, the smell can linger and become a recurring issue.

Ways to Remove Sweat Smells from Clothes

Wondering how to banish sweat odors from your clothes? We’ve got seven tricks you can try, and chances are, you already have most of these supplies at home. Say goodbye to those stubborn smells in no time!

Aspirin and Cream of Tartar

Mix three non-coated aspirin pills with warm water and a tablespoon of cream of tartar. Scrub this solution onto the smelly area, let it sit for 20 minutes, then wash and dry as usual. Repeat if needed.

Lemon Juice

Squeeze the juice from several lemons and mix it with warm water. Soak your sweaty clothes in this solution for at least 30 minutes, then rinse and hang them outside to dry.

Baking Soda

Make a paste by mixing baking soda with warm water. Rub this paste onto the sweaty parts of your garment and leave it for 15 minutes (or overnight for tougher smells), then wash as usual.


Harness the antibacterial power of salt to tackle unpleasant odors in your sweaty clothes:

  1. Put ½ cup of salt in a bowl.
  2. Fill it halfway with warm water and stir until the salt dissolves.
  3. Soak the affected areas of your clothes in the solution.
  4. Wash your clothes as usual.


Distilled white vinegar, known for its deodorizing properties, can help eliminate sweat smells:

  1. Mix one cup of distilled white vinegar with half a gallon of cold water.
  2. Soak the smelly clothes for 20 minutes.
  3. Wash as you normally would.

Note: Distilled white vinegar has a strong scent, but it fades after washing. To enhance the fragrance, add a few drops of essential oil like lemon or tea tree.

Washing Soda

If you have washing soda (sodium carbonate) instead of baking soda, use it to neutralize odors in your gym clothes:

  1. Sprinkle ¼ cup of washing soda onto smelly areas.
  2. Add water and work it in with your hands to create a paste.
  3. Leave for 30 minutes, then wash your clothes normally.

Caution: Wear rubber gloves when working with washing soda as it can be irritating.


Surprisingly effective, mouthwash can kill bacteria and neutralize odors in your clothes:

  1. Pour a few capfuls on sweaty areas of your clothes.
  2. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Launder your clothes as usual.

Always test on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it won’t leave a stain.

Easy Tips to Banish Odors from Clothes

While the previous methods work wonders, here are some additional tips to help you effectively combat sweat smells in your clothes. We want to make it simple for you to eliminate those unpleasant odors.

  1. Wash Immediately: After a workout or a sweaty day, wash your clothes promptly to halt bacterial growth.
  2. Freeze Them: If washing isn’t immediate, use your freezer to prevent bacteria from multiplying. It’s a better option than leaving clothes in your gym bag for days.
  3. Choose Natural Detergent: Opt for natural laundry detergents with ingredients like baking soda, ideal for removing odors without masking them. Such as Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Laundry Detergent or Tide Simply Liquid Laundry Detergent 
  4. Wash Inside Out: Turn your clothes inside out before washing to ensure the detergent targets the sweat and oils directly.
  5. Right Detergent Amount: Use the correct amount of detergent — too little won’t clean effectively, while too much can hinder the cleaning process.
  6. Add Baking Soda: Boost your laundry’s cleaning power by adding ½ cup of baking soda to the dispenser or directly into the drum. Wash as usual.
  7. Skip Fabric Softener: Avoid synthetic fragrances in fabric softeners; opt for essential oils instead to truly combat odors.
  8. Clean Your Washing Machine: Regularly clean your washing machine, either with a self-cleaning option or by using two cups of distilled white vinegar on the hottest cycle.
  9. Use a Garment Steamer: Kill bacteria and freshen clothes with a garment steamer — a useful addition to your laundry routine.
  10. Embrace Fresh Air and Sunlight: Let Mother Nature work her magic; fresh air and sunlight can naturally freshen up fabrics.
  11. Change Right Away: After a workout, resist the temptation to hang out in your gym clothes. Shower and change first to prevent odors from settling.

Don’t let bad odors stress you out. Follow these tips to keep your clothes smelling fresh. You likely have most of these items at home, and ingredients like baking soda and lemon juice can become your laundry routine allies!

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