How to remove unpleasant smells from clothes

Malodour particles penetrate deep down into the fabric at the fibre level.

When not properly removed, body soils accumulate on the fibres of your clothes and eventually become visible and noticeable through bad odour or yellowing on the garment. With odour removal it’s important to understand what odour is and what the ideal laundry regimen is to remove it. Watch our step by step guide on how to get rid of smells, or read the instructions below if you’re interested in how to get body odour smells out of clothes. What you’ll find in this article:

What causes odours?

When it comes to how to get rid of odours, it’s important to understand the cause behind BO. Factors that contribute to odour smell are:

  • Fabric type. Synthetic fabrics trap odours more than other materials, and considering 60% of clothes are synthetic or blended, this means smell removal is a common issue.

  • Cooler wash cycles. It might be environmentally friendly, but cooler wash cycles can add to the odour problem, as soiling and residues tend to harden in cold water.

Unpleasant And Smelly Clothes
  • Larger washing machines. While it’s not the machine itself that causes odours, large machines make it easier for the laundry load to pile up, which means dirty clothes sit around longer, allowing odour particles to penetrate deeper into the fabric.

  • Not cleaning your washing machine. Over time, your washing machine may start to smell funny through the gradual build-up of odour-causing residue, which can then move on to your clothes. Here are a few handy tips on how to care for your washing machine, thus preventing funky smells from appearing on your garments.

Why is odour so hard to get out from clothes?

Every smell, from tobacco smoke through skunk spray to the scent of a fragrant flower, is made up of thousands of molecules, each triggering a different sensory cell in our noses, called the olfactory receptor neurons. Our sensitivity to smells stems from the sensitivity of these receptors. How long these smells stick around also depends on what kind of materials the molecules came into contact with. For example, the polymers found in many clothing fabrics are averse to water, just like the organic molecules that produce malodours. Because of this, they cling onto your garments for much longer – and this is where your washing machine comes into the picture.

Step by step odour removal guide

  • 1

    Create a soaking solution.

    Add a teaspoon of vinegar to a tub of warm water to make a soaking solution that helps remove odour stains.

  • 2


    Let the garment soak in the solution for one hour before washing.

  • 3

    Add Ariel.

    Place one Ariel Platinum PODS® + Febreze Odour Defence washing tablet into the bottom of the drum of your washing machine. Use two capsules if you have a large load and three if you’re dealing with an extra-large load of washing.

  • 4

    Add scent booster.

    For a more perfumed result and a high endurance freshness, add Lenor Unstoppables Active In-Wash scent boosters directly to your washing machine’s drum, then load your garments.

  • 5

    Add Fabric Softener.

    Use a fabric conditioner such as Lenor for freshness. Simply fill the cap to the middle line and pour it into the dispenser drawer.

  • 6


    Wash on the highest temperature as indicated by the fabric care label, and watch as the stains and malodours disappear!

How to efficiently remove odour

To make sure that your clothes come out of the washing machine absolutely odourless, follow these few simple steps.

  1. Act as soon as possible. Put your dirty laundry in a breathable bag or hamper as soon as possible, so as to prevent the build-up of bacteria.

  2. Turn your clothes inside out. Before putting them in the washing machine, turn your garments inside out to prevent fading and protect the outer fabric from the machine’s wear and tear.

  3. Load the right amount. Do not overload your washer, otherwise the unpleasant smells will not be completely removed from your clothes.

  4. Give it another go. Wash your clothes a second time if you can smell any remaining odours, then let them air-dry.

Effective stain removal on a variety of stains

So now you know how to remove odours. However, if you’re also battling with sweat and pit stainsskunk smell and pet odour, or you want to know how to wash gym clothes, workout gear and other sportswear, as well as remove other stains, then let Ariel give you a helping hand.