Clothes Smell After Washing Them? 9 Tips to Get the Stink Out

Don't walk around with funky-smelling clothes. If your clothes come out of the wash stinky, try our tricks to get the odor out.

Published June 7, 2024
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Woman with steam iron and washed clothes basket

If you've ever pulled a load of laundry out of the washer and noticed a certain funk to the supposedly clean clothes, we get it. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, clothes smell, even after washing them. There are all sorts of reasons this could happen, but not to worry. We have some surefire ways to get that stink out of your laundry.

1. If Possible, Skip the Dryer and Wash Again

The first trick is always to avoid putting your clothes through the dryer if you can, as heat can set in stains and odors. So, if you haven't already dried your clothes, your first step is to wash them again. But before you do, you'll want to use one of the techniques below to eliminate odor.

2. Clean Your Washing Machine

Dirty washers can leave clean clothes smelling dank and musty. So if your clothes smell after washing and it has been a while since you've cleaned your washing machine (or you're now staring in shock at the words 'clean your washing machine' and muttering to yourself, "I didn't know I was supposed to do that."), it's time to clean it. Follow our instructions for how to clean your washing machine, and you'll be ready to use it on those stinky clothes in no time. 

Helpful Hack

We love these washing machine cleaner tablets to clean and deodorize the machine. Just toss one in and run a cycle, and your machine will be clean once again.

3. Rewash With an Enzyme Booster

We love this enzyme booster as a laundry add-in because it breaks down bacteria that cause odor and leaves your laundry smelling fresh. Add a scoop to the bottom of the washer, toss your clothes back in, add laundry detergent and fabric softener, and run the cycle.

Quick Tip

Already run the stinky clothes through the dryer? No worries. Wash them again with an enzyme booster, and they should be fine.

4. Rewash in Hot Water

Running a cycle (with detergent and fabric softener) using hot water is another great way to get rid of odors. Check your laundry tags to make sure they can withstand this method. If they can't, try something else.

5. Rewash With a Laundry Detergent That Smells Great

Run a new cycle with a really great-smelling laundry detergent. We like Gain + Odor Defense in Super Fresh Blast. It'll get out the funk and add a fresh, clean scent to your laundry. 

6. Add a Scent Booster

We love how easy it is to toss in some scent booster to ensure your laundry comes out smelling bright and fresh. We like the Gain Fireworks In-Wash Scent Booster Beads, which are easy to use and keep your laundry smelling fresh for weeks. 

7. Add a Half-Cup of Vinegar

 pouring vinegar in laundry

Re-run the load, adding a half cup of vinegar to remove odors. Don't worry. It won't smell vinegary. 

Related: How to Use Vinegar in the Laundry

8. Add a Half-Cup of Baking Soda to the Washer

Baking soda can also remove laundry odors. To use it, add a half-cup of baking soda to the drum before you toss in the clothes. Then, wash with laundry detergent and fabric softener as usual.

9. Prevent Clothes From Smelling After Washing

Of course, the best way to keep your clothes from smelling a little funky after you wash them is to prevent it. 

Make Sure Your Loads Aren't Too Large

Don't fill the drum to the rim. Smaller loads have the space to get clean, while huge loads don't. So, skip the stuffed washer.

Clean Your Washer Once a Month

Keeping your washer clean will prevent odors and mystery stains in your laundry. Set yourself up on a once-a-month cleaning schedule and run a full load with washing machine tablets

Take Clothes Out of the Wash Promptly

We know. Life gets busy, and sometimes you forget (or ignore... no judgment) that load of laundry in the wash for longer than you should. Don't do this. Set reminders so you don't forget and move that clean laundry promptly to the dryer or clothesline so it doesn't have time to stink.

Leave the Lid to the Washer Open When Not in Use

Keeping the washer lid closed can prevent the washer from drying out, which can cause odors. So always keep the lid open between loads to keep the washer fresh for longer.

No More Clothes That Smell After Washing

No more funky-smelling clothes — we love that for you. With our simple tips, your clean clothes will smell exactly how they should — clean!

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Clothes Smell After Washing Them? 9 Tips to Get the Stink Out