How to Get Thrift Store Smell Out of Clothes

Are you tired of that lingering thrift store smell in your clothes? Don’t worry, you can easily get rid of it! In this article, we’ll show you how to banish that odor using simple and effective techniques.

From pre-treating your clothes to utilizing natural odor removers like vinegar and baking soda, we’ve got you covered.

Say goodbye to that thrift store smell and hello to fresh, clean clothes!

Key Takeaways

  • The thrift store smell can be addressed by examining clothes for visible signs of dirt, stains, or mildew and treating them before tackling the smell.
  • Vinegar can be used as a pre-treatment by mixing equal parts vinegar and water and spraying the solution onto the affected areas of the clothes.
  • Baking soda can also be used as a pre-treatment by sprinkling it directly onto the clothes or soaking the clothes in a baking soda solution.
  • Natural freshening methods such as hanging clothes outside in direct sunlight or using activated charcoal and essential oils can help eliminate odors.

Identify the Source of the Thrift Store Smell

First, identify the source of the thrift store smell by closely examining the clothes for any visible signs of dirt, stains, or mildew. This step is crucial in determining the best approach to eliminate the odor effectively. Take a close look at the fabric, checking for any discoloration or patches of dirt. Inspect the seams, cuffs, collars, and underarms for any signs of sweat stains or residue. Pay special attention to areas where moisture tends to accumulate, as they’re more likely to harbor odor-causing bacteria.

If you spot any visible dirt or stains, it’s essential to address them before tackling the smell. Start by gently brushing off any loose dirt or debris with a soft brush or a lint roller. For stains, refer to the garment’s care label to determine the appropriate stain removal method. Treat the stain promptly using a mild detergent or a stain remover, following the instructions provided. Remember to test the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first to avoid any potential damage.

In addition to dirt and stains, mildew can also contribute to the thrift store smell. Look for any signs of mold or mildew on the clothes, such as black or green spots. If you find mildew, it’s crucial to address it promptly to prevent further spread and eliminate the odor. You can try using a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water to spot treat the affected areas. Apply the solution and gently scrub the fabric using a soft brush or cloth. Rinse thoroughly and allow the garment to air dry.

Pre-Treat the Clothes Before Washing

To pre-treat your clothes before washing, there are a couple of effective options you can try.

First, vinegar can be used as a pre-treatment by mixing equal parts vinegar and water and spraying it onto the affected areas. The acidity of the vinegar helps to neutralize and eliminate odors.

Another option is using baking soda, which can be sprinkled directly onto the clothes before washing to absorb and remove the thrift store smell.

Vinegar as Pre-Treatment

To eliminate thrift store smell from your clothes, start by pre-treating them with vinegar before washing. Vinegar is a natural and effective solution that can help neutralize odors. Here’s how to use vinegar as a pre-treatment:

  • Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
  • Spray the solution directly onto the areas of your clothes that smell the strongest.
  • Focus on the armpits, collars, and any other areas where perspiration may have accumulated.
  • Allow the vinegar solution to sit on the fabric for about 15-20 minutes before washing.

Vinegar’s acidity helps break down and eliminate odor-causing bacteria, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean. Remember to check the garment’s care label to ensure it’s safe to use vinegar on it.

Baking Soda Odor Removal

To effectively remove thrift store smell from your clothes before washing, try using baking soda as a pre-treatment. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can help eliminate unpleasant odors from your garments. It works by neutralizing the acidic molecules that cause the thrift store smell. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide on how to use baking soda to get rid of the odor:

1Fill a basin or sink with warm water.
2Add 1 cup of baking soda to the water and mix well.
3Soak the clothes in the baking soda solution for at least 1 hour.

After pre-treating the clothes with baking soda, you can proceed to wash them as usual. This method should help eliminate the thrift store smell, leaving your clothes fresh and odor-free.

Use Vinegar as a Natural Odor Remover

Want an effective and natural way to remove thrift store smell from your clothes? Look no further than vinegar.

Not only is vinegar a cheaper alternative to commercial odor removers, but it’s also highly effective in eliminating unpleasant odors.

Vinegar Vs. Commercial Products

When trying to remove thrift store smell from your clothes, consider using vinegar as a natural odor remover. Vinegar is a versatile and inexpensive option that can effectively eliminate unwanted odors. Here are some reasons why vinegar is a great choice compared to commercial products:

  • Natural and non-toxic: Vinegar is a safe and eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemicals found in many commercial odor removers.
  • Cost-effective: Vinegar is readily available and affordable, making it a budget-friendly option for odor removal.
  • Versatile: Vinegar can be used on a variety of fabrics and materials without causing damage or discoloration.
  • Neutralizes odors: Vinegar has the ability to neutralize and eliminate odors, rather than just masking them like some commercial products.

Vinegar’s Effectiveness on Odor

How effectively does vinegar remove odors when used as a natural odor remover? Well, the answer is quite remarkable.

Vinegar is known for its powerful odor-fighting properties, making it an excellent choice for banishing unpleasant smells from clothes. When used as a natural odor remover, vinegar works by neutralizing the odor molecules, rather than simply masking them. Its acetic acid content helps break down the compounds causing the unpleasant smell, effectively eliminating them.

To use vinegar as a natural odor remover, simply mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then generously spritz the affected areas of the clothing. Let the solution sit for a few minutes before laundering as usual.

You’ll be amazed at how vinegar can eliminate even the toughest odors, leaving your clothes fresh and odor-free.

Try Baking Soda for Deodorizing

To effectively remove the thrift store smell from your clothes, start by using a small amount of baking soda as a deodorizer. Baking soda is a versatile and affordable solution that can help eliminate odors and freshen up your garments. Here’s why baking soda is a must-have for tackling thrift store smells:

  • Neutralizes Odors: Baking soda is known for its ability to neutralize and absorb unpleasant smells. It works by chemically reacting with odor-causing molecules, which helps eliminate the unwanted scent from your clothes.
  • Gentle on Fabrics: Unlike harsh chemical-based deodorizers, baking soda is gentle on fabrics, making it suitable for a wide range of clothing materials. You can use it confidently on delicate items without worrying about any damage or discoloration.

In addition to these benefits, baking soda is incredibly easy to use. Here’s how you can incorporate it into your laundry routine:

  1. Pre-treatment: Before washing your clothes, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda directly onto the affected areas. Focus on the areas that tend to retain odors, such as armpits, collars, and cuffs. Gently rub the baking soda into the fabric to ensure it penetrates the fibers.
  2. Laundry Booster: For an extra boost of freshness, add a ½ cup of baking soda to your regular laundry detergent. This will help maximize the deodorizing effect and leave your clothes smelling clean and revitalized.

Remember to follow the care instructions on your clothing labels and test a small, inconspicuous area before applying baking soda to the entire garment. With baking soda as your secret weapon, you can say goodbye to thrift store smells and enjoy clothes that smell as good as new.

Utilize the Power of Sunlight for Freshening

Now it’s time to harness the power of sunlight to freshen your thrift store clothes.

Sunlight is a natural and effective method for removing odors from clothing. By hanging your clothes outside in direct sunlight, the UV rays will help to break down and eliminate any lingering smells, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Sunlight for Odor Removal

Utilize the power of sunlight to freshen your thrift store clothes by hanging them outside to air out. Sunlight is a natural and effective way to remove odors from your garments.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider using sunlight for odor removal:

  • Sunlight acts as a natural disinfectant, killing bacteria and germs that may be causing the unpleasant smell.
  • The UV rays from the sun can penetrate the fabric and break down odor-causing molecules, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

By harnessing the power of the sun, you can eliminate the thrift store smell from your clothes without using harsh chemicals or spending a fortune on dry cleaning.

Natural Freshening Method

Hang your thrift store clothes outside in the sunlight to naturally freshen them and eliminate any lingering odors. Sunlight has the power to kill bacteria and break down odor-causing molecules, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean. Plus, the gentle warmth of the sun can help to relax the fibers in your clothes, making them feel softer and more comfortable to wear.

To evoke emotion in the audience, let’s take a look at the following table that showcases the benefits of using sunlight for freshening clothes:

Benefits of Sunlight for Freshening Clothes
Kills bacteria and eliminates odors
Breaks down odor-causing molecules
Leaves clothes smelling fresh and clean
Helps to relax the fibers for a softer feel
Environmentally friendly and cost-effective

Use Activated Charcoal to Absorb Odors

To remove thrift store smell from your clothes, employ activated charcoal to effectively absorb odors. Activated charcoal is a powerful and natural odor absorber that can help eliminate the unpleasant smell from your thrift store finds. Here’s why you should consider using activated charcoal:

  • Effective odor absorption: Activated charcoal has a porous structure that allows it to trap and absorb odors. When placed near your clothes, it acts like a magnet, attracting and trapping the molecules responsible for the thrift store smell.
  • Chemical-free solution: Unlike commercial odor sprays or fabric fresheners, activated charcoal is a chemical-free option. It doesn’t mask the odor with artificial fragrances but instead absorbs and neutralizes it, leaving your clothes fresh and odor-free.

Now that you know why activated charcoal is a great solution, here’s how you can use it to get rid of thrift store smell from your clothes:

  1. Choose the right charcoal: Look for activated charcoal specifically designed for odor absorption. You can find it in various forms, such as charcoal bags or charcoal sachets.
  2. Place near your clothes: Put the activated charcoal near your thrift store clothes, either in a bag or sachet, or by placing it on a tray. Make sure it’s within close proximity to allow it to absorb the odors effectively.

Consider Using Essential Oils as a Natural Fragrance

Try incorporating essential oils as a natural fragrance for your thrift store clothes. Not only can essential oils help mask any lingering odors, but they can also leave your clothes smelling fresh and pleasant. With a wide variety of scents to choose from, you can find the perfect essential oil to suit your personal preferences. Here are some popular essential oils and their associated scents:

Essential OilScent
Tea TreeHerbal

To use essential oils, you have a few options. One method is to add a few drops of the oil to a spray bottle filled with water. Shake well and lightly mist your clothes before wearing them. Another option is to create a sachet by placing a few drops of essential oil onto a small piece of fabric or a cotton ball. Place the sachet in a drawer or hang it in your closet to infuse your clothes with the desired fragrance.

Remember to use essential oils sparingly, as they can be potent. Start with just a few drops and increase the amount if needed. Additionally, be mindful of any allergies or sensitivities you may have to certain scents. Overall, incorporating essential oils into your thrift store clothes routine can be a simple and effective way to eliminate unpleasant odors and add a delightful fragrance to your wardrobe.

Opt for Enzyme-Based Laundry Detergents

When trying to eliminate thrift store smell from your clothes, an effective option is to opt for enzyme-based laundry detergents. These detergents are specifically formulated to break down and remove tough stains and odors, making them a great choice for tackling the lingering smell of second-hand clothing.

Here are some reasons why enzyme-based laundry detergents can help you get rid of thrift store smell:

  • Powerful stain and odor removal: Enzymes in these detergents target and break down organic compounds, such as sweat, oils, and other substances that contribute to the thrift store smell. This helps to eliminate the odor at its source, rather than simply masking it with fragrance.
  • Gentle on fabrics: Enzyme-based detergents are generally safe to use on a wide range of fabrics, including delicate materials like silk and wool. They’re designed to be tough on stains and odors while still being gentle on your clothes, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your favorite thrift store finds.
  • Effectiveness on tough odors: Enzyme-based detergents have been proven to be effective at removing stubborn odors, such as cigarette smoke or musty smells. Their powerful enzymes penetrate deep into the fabric to break down odor-causing molecules, leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Use a Fabric Refresher Spray for a Quick Fix

Looking for a quick and effective solution to freshen up your thrift store finds? Look no further than a fabric refresher spray. This handy product can quickly eliminate unwanted odors and leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Fabric refresher sprays work by neutralizing odors instead of just masking them. They contain special ingredients that help to break down the molecules causing the unpleasant smells. Simply spray the fabric refresher directly onto your thrift store clothes, focusing on areas that may hold more odor, such as the armpits or collar. Allow the spray to dry completely before wearing or storing the clothes.

One of the great benefits of fabric refresher sprays is that they’re quick and convenient to use. Whether you’re in a hurry or just need a quick fix, a few spritzes of the spray can instantly freshen up your clothes. Plus, the spray is safe to use on most fabrics, including delicate ones, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your thrift store finds.

When choosing a fabric refresher spray, opt for one that’s specifically designed to eliminate odors rather than just adding fragrance. Look for sprays that are labeled as odor neutralizers or odor eliminators. These formulas are more effective at getting rid of unwanted smells, rather than just covering them up with a strong perfume scent.

Wash Clothes With Oxygen Bleach for Deep Cleaning

To achieve a deep and thorough cleaning for your thrift store clothes, wash them with oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach is a powerful cleaning agent that can effectively remove stains, odors, and bacteria from your garments.

Here’s why washing clothes with oxygen bleach is the best choice for deep cleaning:

  • Gentle on fabrics: Unlike chlorine bleach, which can damage delicate fabrics, oxygen bleach is safe to use on a wide range of materials, including cotton, linen, and synthetic blends. It won’t cause discoloration or weaken the fibers of your clothes.
  • Removes tough stains: Oxygen bleach is highly effective at breaking down and removing stubborn stains, such as sweat, oil, and food spills. It penetrates deep into the fabric, lifting away the dirt and grime that regular detergent may not be able to tackle.
  • Eliminates odors: Thrift store clothes often come with a lingering musty smell. Washing them with oxygen bleach can help eliminate these odors, leaving your garments fresh and clean. It also helps to remove any bacteria that may be present in the fabric.

Here’s how to use oxygen bleach for deep cleaning:

  1. Read the instructions: Different brands may have specific instructions, so make sure to read and follow them carefully.
  2. Pre-soak the clothes: Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add the recommended amount of oxygen bleach. Submerge the clothes and let them soak for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Wash as usual: After soaking, transfer the clothes to the washing machine and wash them as you normally would. Use a regular detergent along with the oxygen bleach for best results.

Try Steam Cleaning to Remove Stubborn Odors

To remove stubborn odors from thrift store clothes, steam cleaning is an effective method. Steam cleaning not only helps to eliminate odors, but it also sanitizes and refreshes the fabric, leaving it clean and fresh. This method is particularly useful for items that cannot be washed in a regular washing machine, such as delicate fabrics or those with special care instructions.

Steam cleaning works by using high-temperature steam to penetrate the fabric and kill bacteria and germs that may be causing the unpleasant smell. The heat from the steam also helps to loosen any dirt or grime that may be trapped in the fibers, further improving the overall cleanliness of the garment.

Here is a table outlining the steps to steam clean your thrift store clothes:

Step 1: PreparationHang the garment on a sturdy hanger and ensure it is free from any visible dirt or stains.
Step 2: Steam CleanerFill the steam cleaner with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 3: SteamHold the steam cleaner a few inches away from the fabric and steam the entire garment thoroughly.
Step 4: DryingAllow the garment to air dry in a well-ventilated area until it is completely dry.
Step 5: InspectionOnce dry, check the garment for any remaining odors. If necessary, repeat the steam cleaning process.

Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific steam cleaner model. Steam cleaning can be a highly effective way to remove stubborn odors from thrift store clothes, leaving them fresh and ready to wear.

Store Clothes Properly to Prevent Future Odors

Proper storage is key to preventing future odors in your thrift store clothes. By taking the time to store your clothes correctly, you can ensure that they remain fresh and odor-free, even after being stored for long periods of time.

Here are some tips to help you store your clothes properly and prevent future odors:

  • Clean your clothes before storing them:
  • Make sure to wash or dry clean your thrift store clothes before putting them away. This will help remove any lingering odors and prevent them from becoming trapped in the fabric during storage.
  • Avoid using scented detergents or fabric softeners, as these can leave behind a strong fragrance that may be difficult to remove.
  • Choose the right storage containers:
  • Opt for breathable containers such as cotton or linen bags, which allow air to circulate and prevent musty odors from developing.
  • Avoid using plastic bags or containers, as they can trap moisture and lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Use mothballs or cedar chips:
  • Mothballs can help repel insects and prevent damage to your clothes. However, be cautious when using them as they have a strong odor that may transfer to your garments.
  • Cedar chips are a natural alternative to mothballs and can also help repel insects while providing a pleasant scent.
  • Store in a cool, dry place:
  • Avoid storing your clothes in areas that are prone to high humidity or extreme temperatures, as these conditions can promote the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Choose a cool, dry closet or storage area to keep your clothes fresh and odor-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Regular Laundry Detergent to Remove Thrift Store Smell From Clothes?

Yes, you can use regular laundry detergent to remove thrift store smell from clothes. It’s a simple and effective solution. Just wash your clothes as you normally would, and the detergent will help eliminate the odor.

How Long Should I Leave the Clothes in Sunlight to Freshen Them Up?

Leave the clothes in sunlight for a few hours to freshen them up. The UV rays help eliminate odors. Make sure to turn them inside out for even exposure.

Can I Use Scented Fabric Softener to Mask Thrift Store Smell?

Yes, you can use scented fabric softener to mask the thrift store smell on your clothes. However, keep in mind that it might not completely eliminate the odor, so additional methods may be necessary.

How Often Should I Use Activated Charcoal to Absorb Odors From My Clothes?

You should use activated charcoal to absorb odors from your clothes as often as needed. It is a great way to eliminate unwanted smells and keep your clothes fresh.

Is It Necessary to Store Thrift Store Clothes Separately From My Regular Wardrobe to Prevent Future Odors?

It’s not necessary to store thrift store clothes separately from your regular wardrobe to prevent future odors. Instead, focus on removing the smell by following simple tips and tricks.


If you have thrift store clothes with a lingering smell, don’t worry! There are plenty of effective ways to remove that odor.

By identifying the source of the smell, pre-treating the clothes, using natural odor removers like vinegar and baking soda, harnessing the power of sunlight, and utilizing fabric refresher spray, you can easily freshen up your thrift store finds.

And don’t forget to store your clothes properly to prevent future odors.

Say goodbye to thrift store smells and enjoy your fresh, clean clothes!