5 Easy Tips to Get Smells Out of Thrift Store Clothes

The dreaded thrift store smell. If you’ve thrifted, you know. So how do you get it out? Here are five tips to get smells out of thrift store clothes. 

5 Tips to Get Smells Out of Thrift Store Clothes

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If you’re an avid thrifted, you know the drill. So many items from thrift shops have that recognizable smell. I’m not even sure what it is, but it’s always the same (even from big warehouses like thredUP that have more current clothes). In other words, it’s not just grandma’s old perfume stuck between the fibers.

Over time and with washing, the smell inevitably goes away for lots of items. But some things, like jackets or fancy dresses or jeans, don’t get washed all that often, so the annoying smell lingers. If you want to speed up the process of getting rid of that all-too-familiar thrift store smell, there are some simple tips to stop the smell.

5 Tips to Get Smells Out of Thrift Store Clothes

5 Tips to Get Smells Out of Thrift Store Clothes

Are you ready to get the stink out of your new-to-you thrift store score? There are some simple tips you can try to get smells out of thrift store clothes. Let’s dive in, and let me know which ones have worked for you.

Air it out

Air it out. In the sun is best. A dose of sunlight and fresh air cures all, for us and our clothes. A few hours in the sun may do the trick, but you might need to let it hang out and fresh air for a couple of days if the scent is really strong.

Spritz with vodka spray

Spritz with vodka spray. The alcohol and the vodka help kill bacteria and eliminate odors. The ratio of vodka to water will depend on the type of fabric you’re cleaning. This article offers some more details on spraying clothing with vodka to remove smells (particularly related to costumes) but I found it helpful.

Baking soda and a shake

Sprint with baking soda, shake, and suck it up. Sprinkle baking soda on your clothing garment, put it in a plastic bag, and shake it up. Then let it rest for her a few hours or a day. Remove it from the bag, and shake out the baking soda or suck it up with a vacuum cleaner.

Distilled white vinegar wash

Wash with vinegar in your washing machine. Swap out your laundry detergent for a cup of distilled white vinegar, and run your washing machine through a regular cycle. The vinegar will help pull the odors out of the fabric, and it will also help clean your washing machine. 

Use charcoal deodorizer

Activated charcoal absorbs odors, so try placing a pack of activated charcoal near your stinky clothing item to see if it absorbs the odors from the fabric, leaving you with a fresh-smelling piece. You can purchase pre-made packs or make your own DIY activated charcoal packs with a few fabric scraps sewn together and filled with activated charcoal pellets.

Got any other tips to ditch that thrift store smell? Leave them in the comments. 

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Jen Panaro

Jen Panaro, founder and editor-in-chief of Honestly Modern, is a self-proclaimed composting nerd and advocate for sustainable living for modern families. To find her latest work, subscribe to her newsletter, Stepping Stones.

In her spare time, she’s a serial library book borrower, a messy gardener, and a mom of two boys who spends a lot of time in hockey rinks and on baseball fields.

You can find more of her work at Raising Global Kidizens, an online space to help parents and caregivers raise the next generation of responsible global citizens.

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