January 10, 2012 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Please, oh please, help me de-stink my favorite pair of jeans.

My vitamin-junkie partner gave me some DHA to take one day. I stuck it in the little watch pocket of my Levi's and forgot about it. The jeans then went through the wash. Note to self: Do not leave seaweed-derived vitamin products in your jeans pockets, else your jeans will smell like someone put actual fish in your pants and left them out in the sun to rot.

They've been washed several times. They still stink. The smell is localized in the watch pocket. (These are the old-style of jeans with heavy denim, not that stretchy, spandexy stuff that they make all women's jeans out of now.)

Things I've tried:
  • Pouring extra laundry detergent in the pocket, then washing
  • Rubbing the area with lemon juice and stuffing the peels in the pocket, then washing, then hanging to dry in the sun with the peels still inside
  • Treating with Nature's Miracle, then washing
The only thing that's come close to working was covering that pocket in perfumed oil. Worked pretty well for most of the day, but now it's wearing off and the fish stink is becoming more noticeable. I'm afraid one of my coworkers might ask HR to have a conversation with me about my suddenly questionable personal hygiene.

How the hell do I descent these jeans?
posted by mudpuppie to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Cut the pocket out?
posted by fshgrl at 4:37 PM on January 10, 2012

There was a question on here a while ago that mentioned using vodka in a spray bottle or hand sanitizer (basically anything alcohol-y) to destink clothing.
posted by jabes at 4:37 PM on January 10, 2012

Have you tried sunlight? Hang them out for a while. It works. Sunlight is a disinfectant because the UV rays kill microorganisms, and I believe it can accelerate breakdown processes that would get the foul smelling chemicals out of the fabric.
posted by krilli at 4:37 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vinegar gets fish smell off your hands, but that's a lot less fish smell than a marinated pocket. Worth a shot, though.
posted by skyl1n3 at 4:40 PM on January 10, 2012

Have you tried soaking the jeans overnight in hot water with vinegar and baking soda? Then just wash them the following day with the same mixture or you can use the same water. It works for cat pee smell so I'd imagine it would work with fish smells.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 4:42 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Vinegar, baking soda or boric acid all work. Try color safe Clorox.

Hot water.

Is there a residue after the previous washings? I hope you didn't put it in the dryer, that will set the stain/scent.

It will eventually come out.
posted by Yellow at 4:50 PM on January 10, 2012

GOOP. It's an industrial hand cleaner, you can get it at auto parts stores (and probably elsewhere). I accidentally washed a sweatshirt with fish oil capsules in the pocket, and had a very similar experience, and GOOP got it out.

the trick with the goop is that 1) the article of clothing MUST be dry when you put the goop on it, and 2) you really have to work the stuff into the stain. I actually lay it down on the lid of the washing machine and scratch it into the fabric with my fingernails, every square inch, twice. Then let it sit for about an hour, then wash it in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric with about twice as much detergent as normal.
posted by KathrynT at 4:55 PM on January 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wash with Simple Green and OxyClean (or something similar). Pour or spray the Simple Green directly on the area, and also dump at least a cup, plus the OxyClean, into the washer. ( Use the Simple Green straight, not diluted.)

I don't work for Simple Green, but it is the only thing I know that will remove the smell of cat pee from something so completely that the cat can't smell it any more. This keeps them from peeing on the spot again. If it works on cat pee, it should work on this.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:57 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding GOOP. You wouldn't believe the shitty smells (literally*) it has gotten out of my clothes and bed sheets.

* NOT MINE or a human's for that matter. Fuckin' puppy dog.

(I'm not sure if I have a reputation to protect but I want to be abundantly clear on this point.)

posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:17 PM on January 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

How long did you leave the Nature's Miracle on for? It works, but it takes a long time, longer than you would think. I once spilled the oil from a tin of oysters onto a carpet, and when the oil soaked into the carpet it stank to high heaven. NOTHING was getting the smell out; detergents seemed to make it worse. I ended up saturating it with about a cupful of Nature's Miracle and just leaving it to dry naturally. I think it took over 24 hours to dry, but when it finally dried, the smell was gone. I mean, I literally put my nose to the carpet and could not smell a thing.

I'd recommend soaking the pocket area in Nature's Miracle and letting it dry naturally over the course of a day or two, then washing.

Relevant question and suggestions here.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:17 PM on January 10, 2012

Use Simple Green, because you also want to remove the oil now. Soak and wash. Dry on a line.
If you can still smell it after simple green, fill your pocket with dried coffee grounds, leave it for like a week. Brush out coffee grounds before wearing or washing.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:25 PM on January 10, 2012

thirding GOOP. it's magic!!
posted by changeling at 5:33 PM on January 10, 2012

In a similar situation, what finally worked was letting some Dawn dish detergent soak into the item, then washing it, then submerging the affected area in a mixing bowl full of white vinegar, leaving it overnight and then washing again. Repeat those two steps alternately as needed.
posted by bunji at 5:38 PM on January 10, 2012

I have had great lucking using pure tea tree oil to get really horrid smells out of clothes. A little goes a long way, but I would consider a capful for the pocket area and then put into the wash. I sometimes put a capful into the entire washer with the detergent and all the stinky teenage boy/sports clothes come out smelling great. You can get some at Trader Joes if you live near one.
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 5:58 PM on January 10, 2012

Ah, GOOP. I worked as an (apprentice) mechanic one summer in high school and spend my days wrist-deep in greasy brake pads and greasy engine blocks and greasy you-name-it. If I needed to clean up in a hurry, a quick scoop of GOOP and my hands would go from dirty to clean in no time flat.
posted by zardoz at 7:55 PM on January 10, 2012

Put them in a bag and freeze them in your freezer for a day.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:03 PM on January 10, 2012

Seconding hot water with white vinegar and salt.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 3:59 AM on January 11, 2012

Ammonia. Add one cup when you wash the jeans again. (Ammonia cured the fishy smell that surprised me when I first wore a brown sweatshirt. It smelled fine until I put it on.)
posted by Carol Anne at 7:35 AM on January 11, 2012

A standard method of getting stale cigarette smell out of second-hand clothes and plastic is typically putting the item into a bag filled with odor-control cat litter for several days. Might be worth a try if the suggestions above don't do the trick.
posted by urbanlenny at 10:23 AM on January 11, 2012

Response by poster: Will GOOP lighten or otherwise stain the denim?
posted by mudpuppie at 10:33 AM on January 11, 2012

It never has changed the color for me, not even on a silk blouse. Test an inconspicuous area first if you want to be certain, though.
posted by KathrynT at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2012

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