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Canning Day Quilt

Help for Smelly Laundry

In December my husband took up running for exercise.  He has always worked out… riding his bike, cross country skiing, lifting weights.  But for some reason running made his workout clothes take on a whole new meaning of stinky.

Much to my dismay, his clothes were still smelly after a “run” through the washing machine.

On a whim, I threw in (my old standby) baking soda into the wash, and much to my olfactory joy… they came out smelling clean.  Ever since, whenever I throw a stinky load into the wash, I add about 1/2 cup baking soda to the load.

Now that summer is here, the running clothes are stinkier than ever… and sometimes there is still a hint of smell after adding baking soda to the load.  If there is, I dry them outside.  For some reason, drying in the sun and breeze seems to remove whatever smell was left.

With all the sweaty activities of summer, baking soda is an essential addition to my laundry arsenal.  Thank goodness I can buy baking soda in bulk… and on the cheap.

***I am in no way affiliated with Arm and Hammer…. other than buying and loving baking soda.

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13 Responses to “Help for Smelly Laundry”

  • “much to my olfactory joy” :P
    i love the wonders of baking soda, vinegar and lemons. and i like your disclaimer. i feel like saying the same thing each time i write about something i love on my blog.
    ~ ana

  • anne:

    this is a silly question, but do you have a front load washer? when do you add the baking soda? i’m always looking for ways to remove stink out of my running shirts. thanks :) anne

    • Not silly at all. I do have a front loader, and I add it into the tray right on top of the detergent before starting the machine. I’ve also tried setting my machine to the pre-wash function and then adding baking soda to that cup as well. I’m not really sure that made a lot of difference though… and I’m typically too impatient to run the longer load time.

  • Thank you, this is very timely with the summer in full swing, and my husband working more outside than ever. I’ll start buying a bigger box.

  • I regularly use white vinegar instead of fabric softener to clear away smells, but I will have to give this a try too. Thanks!!

    • I’ve wanted to try the white vinegar too. I’ve heard it is great as a fabric softener. Do you have a front loader, and if so, do you put the vinegar in the bleach tray? I wondered where to put it.

      • josefina:


        I have a front loader and regularly use white vinegar on grody sweated-through clothes. I use it like you do: with the detergent. But either the bleach tray or the softener tray should be fine. The clothes might smell pickle-y right out of the washer but that goes away with time and especially drying (on the line or in the machine).

        Don’t know if you know this but if your husband is wearing any of the newer wicking fabrics—they’re notorious for holding on to stink.

        Another too-little-known vinegar use: Stopping the itch of bug bites. Wet a cotton ball with w.v. and saturate the bite. The itchiness goes away immediately; the smell takes a little more time to vanish but not much.

  • This is so helpful! THANK YOU!

  • Beth:

    I so love baking soda for everything! I use it especially in my garbage disposal which can get a bit…ripe. I have a favorite concoction of 1/2 cup baking soda, the remains of a juiced lemon, and 4 ice cubes. I put the ice cubes first to sharpen it, the baking soda next to deodorize and finish with the lemon for the heavenly scent. It never fails. Once a month, and I can handle using the dreaded disposal daily!

  • Heather:

    I always have smelly towels no matter what I do. Will the baking soda work for that as well?

    • Calli:

      Here in Utah, the atmosphere is so dry that stinky towels have never been a problem for me. But here’s my best shot at advice. As I understand it, smell usually comes from mildew, so the goal is to “kill” the mildew. I would wash your towels with hot water using baking soda in the wash cycle and 1 to 2 cups of vinegar in the rinse. Vinegar is good at killing mildew and once the towels are dry, the smell of vinegar dissipates. If you have a front load washing machine, make sure to leave the door open between use. The man that installed our washing machine warned me that you can end up with smelly laundry if you don’t, because mildew builds up in the machine and gets onto the laundry. My last suggestion is to try is drying your towels on a clothes line in the sun. Towels dried on a line do come in stiff, but you can throw them in the dryer for a few minutes just to soften them up after.

  • Donna:

    Borax is also very efficient at removing odors from laundry. Add a cup with your laundry detergent. It’s very affordable, also helps brighten whites and is available in the grocery stores.

  • charlene:

    lemon juice right out of the bottle works great for the stinky towels…or clothes in general, like when you forget and leave in washer overnight..I just add in the bleach dispenser and follow with a cup of water to rinse the juice out

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