How to remove detergent smell from clothes and bedding?
August 23, 2018 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I've purchased some second hand items that have a very strong detergent scent. I've tried all of the hacks I could find online (long soak, extra rinse, baking soda in the drum, vinegar rinse, hanging in sunlight, etc.) and some of the items are still quite strongly perfumed. No smoke, pet, or other odors to get rid of--just this sort of cloying laundry detergent smell. Any other ideas for eradication?

I purposely have not Febreezed the things as I don't want any more scents. Have used a very small amount of hippie pure detergent on some of the washes. Have also washed several times, but laundry scent still lingers.
posted by stillmoving to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
1) Have you scrubbed your hands and face since handling the unwashed items?

2) Coffee grounds (unused) or crumpled newsprint with the items in a closed container.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:05 PM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would wash again in your hippie soap, use white vinegar as your "fabric softener" in your rinse cycle, and hang wet to dry in the sun.
posted by vivzan at 1:06 PM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Could it be fabric softener rather than detergent? That won't come off with just water (it's usually oil-based) but might get washed out by a good unscented detergent.
posted by mskyle at 1:07 PM on August 23, 2018

Washing soda. Old school, but it works.
posted by sageleaf at 1:15 PM on August 23, 2018

I would guess that whatever it is, it's oil-based. Take one piece and try a long soak with intermittent swishing in Dawn, then vinegar-water rinses to get all the Dawn out, line dry, smell it, and whatever you do, don't put it through a heated dry cycle until you're sure you've gotten as much stink out as you can.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:16 PM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've had good luck with Nature's Miracle Stain & Odor Remover to remove odors from my athletic wear. I believe is has natural enzymes to break down odors. I give mine a soak in the washer for 1 hr then use a extra rinse.
posted by ShakeyJake at 1:17 PM on August 23, 2018

Borax can effectively neutralize odors, although some people think borax itself has a detergent scent-- to me, it makes clothes smell very fresh but not in a perfumed way.
posted by charmcityblues at 1:18 PM on August 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've also had some luck with Nature's Miracle, and similar pet-odor-remover liquids.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:25 PM on August 23, 2018

How long did you hang it in the sun? If you're able to leave it outside for a week, I'll bet that would do the trick.
posted by metasarah at 1:26 PM on August 23, 2018

Seconding borax, especially if you have hard water. It helps detergents work better. It sounds like you need to use more detergent to remove the oil-based scent.
posted by quince at 1:35 PM on August 23, 2018

I would use the recommended amount of either your hippie detergent or a commercial “free and clear” detergent with the clothes. I’m very sensitive to odors and if my spouse uses regular detergent on my clothes, I can’t just rinse them; I have to completely rewash them with free&clear detergent to remove the smell.
posted by epj at 4:32 PM on August 23, 2018

We have had really good luck using a product called Odo-Ban. My daughter is extremely sensitive, and sometimes allergic, to fragrance. When our next door neighbors are drying clothes we have to close our windows to keep her from having an asthma attack.
posted by Altomentis at 6:10 PM on August 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I lent a friend some sweatpants a while ago and got them back clean, but the detergent or fabric softener scent was super strong! What finally seemed to work for me was several overnight soaks in Oxyclean, followed by regular laundering. I probably washed them 6-8 times to get the smell out. (Also tried hanging in the sun, vinegar, baking soda, etc.)
posted by purple_bird at 9:33 AM on August 24, 2018

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