Brands of clothes washing detergents such as Tide, Gain, and Downey contain a strong chemical odour which is offensive to me. No amount of airing-out will diminish this odour. Things washed using these detergents pass-on the odour when it comes into contact with other materials and clothes. Rewashing multiple times in non-scented detergents has not been effective.

Is there anything I can do to save (stink neutralize) the contaminated things, short of throwing them away?

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    The perfume will break down on its own so simply waiting will work. In the meantime switch to some other detergent. There's even a version of Tide devoid of scents and dyes. – Ross Ridge Mar 23 '15 at 1:45
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    Use a different detergent. – MrPhooky Mar 23 '15 at 9:07
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    For the record, I do NOT use tide. The odor transferred to my garments. It's been over two years that the garments have been hung to air out. No other soap, or detergent has removed the Tide odor so far. It also transferred to containers that held the stuff. It's air cancer – Stan Mar 23 '15 at 14:50
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    Two years was enough time for the skunk smell in my jeans to break down after I got sprayed, so I don't think you're smelling the Tide detergent anymore. – Ross Ridge Mar 24 '15 at 2:30
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    @Ross Ridge. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. Think whatever you like. Your olfactory might have diminished ability. There is no Tide™ detergent manufactured without added "scents." – Stan May 9 '16 at 2:29

Wash the items again, with your normal soap, plus half a cup of baking soda. It would help to use the soaking cycle on the washing machine too, and lemon juice and vinegar can't hurt. If it's not enough, run another cycle with baking soda. I use baking soda on teenagers' sweaty socks and undershirts and jiu-jitsu uniforms, and they come out smelling perfectly. I believe in this power of baking soda so much that when I once bought a used book several hundred pages long smelling just as you describe, I spent a couple of hours spreading baking soda over every surface of every page, since of course you can't wash a book, then left it for a few days, then brushed off every surface of every page. It didn't turn out perfectly, since it wasn't washed, but close, and I can now use the book without any distraction of smell. By the way, washing soda is not as effective at removing smells in the laundry.

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    Nothing you suggest has worked at all. There is no change after AGGRESSIVE treatment. – Stan May 9 '16 at 2:31
  • your answer should be remove because it's off topic: you are talking about smells caused by bacteria (which are easy to get rid off) the question is about synthetic chemicals produced to smell for a long time, like parfum. (And it's based on belief not on science I believe in this power of baking soda so much that...). – JinSnow Oct 13 '19 at 4:58

I am in the very same boat so I understand completely. The only thing I have found to help is a product called OdorKlenz. I purchased mine on Amazon. For clothing which retains some odor (perfume or other detergent smells) you can add it to the washer as directed.

For items which are heavily laden with the Tide or Cheer scents, that will not be enough. I utilize a large muck bucket and soak the article in this product with enough water to cover. I have MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities). I don a pair of rubber gloves and swish the clothing to make certain the product is pushed through them.

It may soak for one-three days, depending on the strength of the fragrance you detect. Then I transfer the clothing to the washer and use this product as it recommends in the machine. You may have to repeat this process, but you will notice a substantial reduction in the fragrance of the clothing.

Good luck, there are millions of us who are in the same shoes as yourself.


  • OdorKlenz seems to work well with almost every nasty natural smell from mildew to "fermented" gym towels and socks. The reviews specifically mention that it has little or no effect on detergent odors added to stink "fresh." I can't figure out how my things became so contaminated by a few hours of contact with things washed in that… "stuff." – Stan May 21 '16 at 5:40

I've tried everything and I find soaking clothes in warm water and Calgon Water Softener (found it at Walmart near the oxyclean) for about a day works well to get detergent smell out of used clothing. Sometimes I'll add a little dish soap too if they are really strong. Then I rinse them well and wash with my regular laundry soap. Seems to release the smells without adding another one, the light Calgon smell rinses away. It's a little gross to see how much stinky detergent/fabric softener "film" rises to the top of the soaking water. I think the Calgon removes the binding agents or hard water minerals that hold onto the fragrance and the dish soap de-greases the fabric softener.


I have recently read that you can soak the garments afflicted with the stench in water with some Vitamin C powder mixed in. If you don't have any powder you can pop open a couple of the caplets and pour the contents into the water.

You could actually put the Vitamin C powder in with your washing detergent and that should be able to aid in reducing the smell.

Once you have finished washing, if possible, always allow the clothes to dry out in the sunshine - it is amazing what a bit of Sunlight can do to help!

  • I have obtained pure vitamin C powder AND a liquid form and treated the contaminated materials without any success. – Stan May 9 '16 at 2:38

I suggest you try Vinegar and/or lemon juice (With nothing mixed in it).

About a tablespoon of vinegar and a teaspoon of lemon juice usually work like magic against smells, but remember to rinse thoroughly before leaving it to dry.

Also, drying in the sunshine can help a lot.

  • Any comments on why the downvote...? Or is it just flaming wars? – Fernando Cordeiro Mar 30 '15 at 21:17
  • I didn't downvote you. However, Nothing you have suggested has worked. – Stan May 9 '16 at 2:33

Add 1/2 cup of household ammonia to your front load washer and add the stinky articles. Wash without adding any other detergent or softener. This should do the trick. I hate the smell of Tide, febreeze, and Downy! (I think the birds that fly above our homes do, too.) Despite what commercials say, something is only clean when it DOESNT have a scent!

  • ammonia smells bad, too. And it is not good for the rubber and plastic parts of the washing machine – vladiz Nov 23 '15 at 8:49
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    Thank you. This has not worked. I agree that smelling from a chemical odour is not a smell of clean. It is the smell of chemical contamination. What the manufacturers are doing is criminal. – Stan May 9 '16 at 2:36

Others, including some on cloth diaper boards, recommend a product called 'RLR', which is mostly sodium carbonate (washing soda), which is also available as a pool cleaner—rinse very, very, thoroughly afterward.

  • I normally use washing soda rather than detergents. This was one of the first cleaners I tried… several times. I've even used it between other things. Washing soda is a well-known and long-time cleaning staple. Beware, though, the NEW Arm & Hammer™ Washing Soda stinks more than the Tide™ stench I was trying to neutralize. I tossed the whole box, unused, into the haz-mat box at the local dump. AVOID than stuff too. – Stan May 21 '16 at 5:27

It can take 10 washings or more with white vinegar, baking soda, and an unscented detergent to get the Tide-like smell out of resale clothes.

In some cases, I've had to give up and redonate the clothing.

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