How To Remove Fabric Softener Smell From Clothes? Best Tips

Fabric softener is a common household product, adding a pleasant scent and reducing static in the laundry. Yet, some dislike its overpowering odor. To fix this, learn how to remove fabric softener smell from clothes.

Fortunately, several simple and effective methods can help eliminate this unwanted odor and leave your garments smelling clean and fresh once again. To remove the fabric softener smell from clothes, try soaking them in vinegar and water before washing them as usual.

However, this article will explore various methods and tips on effectively removing fabric softener odor from your garments. For know details, scroll down.

Can Fabric Softener Make Clothes Smell Bad?

Yes, fabric softeners can sometimes make clothes smell bad. While fabric softeners are designed to impart a pleasant fragrance and make clothes feel soft, there are a few reasons why they might end up causing a bad smell:

  • Fabric build-up: Fabric softeners can leave a residue on clothes that can build up over time. This residue can trap odors, making garments smell musty or stale.
  • Chemical reactions: The combination of fabric softener and certain detergents or water conditions can result in chemical reactions that generate unpleasant scents. This is particularly common with hard water, which contains minerals that can react with the chemicals in fabric softeners.
  • Improper usage: Using too much fabric softener can overwhelm the odor-neutralizing capabilities of the product and lead to a strong, artificial smell that doesn’t dissipate quickly.
  • Lingering scent: Some fabric softener fragrances are quite strong and can linger on clothes even after washing. This can be problematic if the scent is not your liking or clashes with other odors.

How To Remove Fabric Softener Smell From Clothes?

Fabric softeners can leave a lingering scent on clothes that may not always be pleasant. If you’re looking to remove the fabric softener smell from your clothes, you can try several effective methods. Like:


Vinegar is a powerful odor remover and can help eliminate fabric softener smells. Simply add half a cup of white vinegar to your washing machine during the rinse cycle. The vinegar will neutralize the scent and leave your clothes smelling fresh.

Baking soda:

Baking soda is another fantastic option for eliminating odors. Add half a cup of baking soda to your laundry detergent and wash the clothes as usual. Baking soda will not only remove the fabric softener smell but also act as a natural deodorizer.

Lemon juice:

Mix equal parts of lemon juice and water and apply the mixture to the areas of your clothes that have a strong fabric softener smell. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before washing. The citric acid in lemon juice helps counteract and remove the scent.

Odor-eliminating products:

Various odor-eliminating products are available on the market specifically designed to remove unwanted scents from clothes. Look for products that are fragrance-free and safe for use on fabrics. Follow the instructions provided and enjoy odor-free clothes.


Natural sunlight can work wonders in removing odors from clothes. Hang your garments outside on a clothesline to air and breathe. The sun’s UV rays will help neutralize any remaining fabric softener scent.


If your clothes still have a noticeable fabric softener smell after washing, consider giving them a pre-soak. Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add a cup of white vinegar or a tablespoon of baking soda. Soak the clothes for 30 minutes to an hour before rewashing them.

Eliminating fabric softener smell from clothes is manageable with these effective methods. Choose the one that suits you best, and say goodbye to unwanted scents.

Additional Tips For Removing Fabric Softener Residue From Clothes

Additional Tips For Removing Fabric Softener Residue From Clothes

If your clothes smell after washing, it may be fabric softener residue. Fabric softeners soften and freshen garments. However, they might leave an odor.

However, we have some more ideas to help you remove fabric softener residue from your clothes.

  1. Rinse with hot water: Sometimes, a quick rinse with hot water helps remove fabric softener residue. Fill your washbasin or basin with hot water and soak your garments. Rinse them with hot water before washing them.
  2. Consider enzyme cleaners: Fabric softener residue can be removed with enzyme-based cleansers. Look for clothes-safe enzyme-based laundry detergents or stain removers. For best results, follow product directions.
  3. Double-check your washing machine: It’s crucial to clean your washing machine. Clean your washing machine’s filters, dispenser drawer, and door seal. Fabric softener residue won’t transfer to garments.
  4. Reduce the fabric softener: If your clothes commonly get fabric softener residue, consider applying less or diluting it before washing. This can avoid excessive accumulation and residue on garments.
  5. Opt for fragrance-free alternatives: If you’re sensitive to fragrances or want to prevent fabric softener residue, try wool dryer balls or sheets. These alternatives soften garments without residue or unpleasant odors.
  6. Air-dry your clothes: Air-dry garments instead of using a dryer to reduce fabric softener residue. Natural airflow removes residue and odors from garments hung outside or on a drying rack.
  7. Follow clothing care labels: Each piece of clothing is labeled. Using the correct washing temperature and avoiding fabric softeners can help prevent residue buildup and protect your clothes.
  8. Give your clothes an extra rinse: If you still have fabric softener residue after following the preceding techniques, perform an extra rinse cycle in your washing machine. This can help clean your garments.

Remember to read labels and follow care recommendations.

How To Prevent The Lingering Smell Of Fabric Softener On Clothes In The Future

Preventing the lingering smell of fabric softener on clothes in the future is possible by following these tips:

  1. Use the Right Amount: Avoid using excessive fabric softener. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the product label to determine the appropriate amount for your laundry load size. Using too much fabric softener can lead to an overpowering scent that lingers on clothes.
  2. Dilute Fabric Softener: If you prefer a milder scent, consider diluting the fabric softener with water before adding it to your laundry. This will help reduce the concentration of the fragrance and prevent it from clinging to the clothes.
  3. Choose Unscented or Mildly Scented Products: Opt for unscented or mildly scented fabric softeners if you are sensitive to strong smells or want to avoid overpowering fragrances on your clothes.
  4. Add Fabric Softener at the Right Time: If you have a washing machine with a fabric softener dispenser, add the softener during the rinse cycle. Adding it during the wash cycle can lead to a more potent scent as the softener is exposed to higher water temperatures.
  5. Use Dryer Balls or Dryer Sheets: Dryer balls or sheets can be an alternative to liquid fabric softeners. They help reduce static and soften clothes without leaving behind an overwhelming scent.
  6. Opt for Vinegar: Instead of fabric softener, try adding a small amount of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar helps soften clothes and eliminate odors without leaving any lingering fragrance.
  7. Air Dry Your Clothes: Line drying your clothes outdoors or using a drying rack indoors can help reduce any lingering scents, as fresh air helps to neutralize odors.
  8. Clean Your Washing Machine: Regularly clean your washing machine to remove any buildup of fabric softener residues. This will prevent these residues from transferring to your clothes during subsequent washes.
  9. Pre-soak Odorous Items: If you’re dealing with particularly smelly items, consider pre-soaking them before washing them. This can help remove odors without relying solely on fabric softeners.
  10. Give Clothes More Space: Overcrowding the washing machine can prevent the fabric softener from being adequately rinsed out of the clothes. Ensure there’s enough space for a thorough rinse.

By following these tips, you can enjoy soft and fresh-smelling clothes without worrying about an overpowering fabric softener scent lingering on your garments.

How Long Does Fabric Softener Smell Last?

The duration of the fabric softener smell varies depending on factors such as the product’s concentration, fabric type, the amount used, and how clothes are stored. Generally, the scent can last from a few days to a few weeks.

High-concentration fabric softeners with excessive use may result in a longer-lasting, overpowering scent. Fabrics like synthetics may retain the fragrance longer than natural fibers. Properly airing and storing clothes in a clean, dry environment can preserve the scent.

Outdoor exposure and regular use can reduce the fabric softener smell over time. To manage the scent, opt for milder or unscented softeners, dilute the product, use dryer balls, or select quick-release formulas. Finding the right balance ensures a pleasant laundry experience tailored to personal preferences.


Removing the fabric softener smell from clothes doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Following the simple steps outlined in this blog post on how to remove fabric softener smell from clothes, you can quickly freshen up your garments and eliminate any lingering scent. Start by rinsing your clothes with vinegar or baking soda before washing them as usual.

Adding lemon juice or essential oils to your wash cycle can provide a pleasant fragrance that masks any remaining odor. Don’t forget to dry your clothes to prevent any mildew thoroughly smells. If the fabric softener smell persists, consider using an odor-eliminating spray or placing your clothes in the freezer overnight.

These tips allow you to enjoy clean, odor-free clothes without harsh chemicals or expensive deodorizers. Take control of that fabric softener scent and enjoy fresh-smelling laundry every time.

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