How To Get Sweat Smell Out of Clothes: The Ultimate Guide

There are few things more disappointing than washing your sweaty clothes, taking them out of the dryer and realizing they STILL smell. However, if you deal with body odor, sweat a lot or have hyperhidrosis, getting stink out of shirts may be something you deal with regularly.

Some odors are harder to get rid of than others. Leaving your sweaty workout garments in a gym bag or hamper allows stinky bacteria to build up over time, creating a smelly layer that standard detergents can’t penetrate.

If you’re looking to cure that funky sweat smell, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll share expert tips on how to get sweat smell out of clothes so you can dress with confidence.

Tip #1: Check Your Washing Machine

If your clothes smell as soon as they come out of the washing machine, look no further than the washing machine itself. Unfortunately, most washing machines aren’t capable of self-cleaning. Residue, oil or dirt accumulated from your dirty clothing can build up, creating the perfect environment for mold growth.

Front-load washers tend to be smellier than top-load washers. Check your machine’s manual for instructions on how to clean it, or try OxiClean’s Washing Machine Cleaner with Odor Blasters.

Pro-tip: Washing sweaty clothes immediately is your safest bet for getting odor out of clothes; however, that’s not always possible. Since moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria, air out sweaty clothes by turning them inside out and hanging them to dry until you can launder them.

Tip #2: Use a Killer Cleaning Combo

How you pre-treat, wash and dry your sweaty clothes matters. The following “recipes” remove the sweat smell from clothes and extend their lifespan:

  • Vinegar: Add one cup of vinegar to a bucket of cold water and soak your smelly clothes for up to 30 minutes.
  • Baking Soda: Add one cup of baking soda to your wash load with your detergent and wash in cold water.
  • Lemon Juice: Squeeze the juice of one lemon into your wash load to extinguish odor-causing bacteria.
  • Detergent: Add one ounce of detergent to a bucket of cold water and let clothes soak for up to 30 minutes.

If none of the above steps help initially, try soaking your clothes in lukewarm water with two cups of baking soda for at least 24 hours, then wash as usual.

After pre-treating with one of the above methods, wash your clothes with a heavy-duty detergent designed to remove sweat and body oil, like Active Wear Laundry Detergent, Tide Pods 4 in 1 Febreze Sport Odor Defense, or Sweat X Sport Extreme Laundry Detergent.

Pro-tip: For best results, check your clothing’s care tags for special instructions before attempting any of these cleaning methods. Some fabrics may shrink or fade if laundered improperly.

Tip #3: Turn Your Clothes Inside-Out Before Washing

It’s no secret that most smelly bacteria come from dead skin cells, body oil and sweat. Turning your clothing inside-out before washing exposes your clothing’s dirtier side to cleaning products directly. Plus, your clothes might already be inside out after you’ve taken them off, so leave them like that – who needs the extra work anyway?

Pro-tip: Keep in mind that some fabrics retain smells more than others. Polyester is notorious for holding on to scent. Synthetic, moisture-wicking fabrics also tend to retain odor more than natural materials like cotton.

Tip #4: Wash Smaller Loads

For extra smelly clothes, reduce your laundry load size in half. This ensures there's enough water to penetrate the fibers and properly clean your clothes.

Pro-tip: For best results, skip the fabric softener. Fabric softeners leave a coating on clothing that traps bacteria and odors, undoing all your hard work! They can also leave residues in your washing machine that could stain clothes. Instead, try baking soda and vinegar — they’re natural fabric softeners that leave clothing sufficiently comfy without additional help.

Tip #5: Dry Your Clothes Outside

While using a dryer is convenient, air-drying your clothes on a clothesline has advantages. Not only is it an environmentally friendly option that saves you money, but UV rays also kill microbes and remove odor. The outdoor breeze also helps to air out your clothes, giving them that fantastic fresh smell.

Pro-tip: Keep in mind that drying your clothes locks in the smell. If your clothes still smell like sweat after a wash cycle, apply another pretreatment and rewash the clothes. Always make sure the sweat smell is completely gone before placing items on the clothesline or in the dryer.

Tip #6: Wear a Thompson Tee to Prevent Odor and Block Sweat

As you can see, there are many ways to remove odor from clothes. However, wouldn’t it be nicer if they didn’t smell in the first place?

Try Thompson Tee’s Premium Anti Odor Undershirt, available in crewneck or V-neck styles. These stink-free shirts are infused with Odor Shield™ technology, a non-toxic hydrogen peroxide-based solution that eliminates 99.9% of odor-causing bacteria in the fabric. We guarantee you'll be an instant fan of these soft and luxurious undershirts.

Pro-tip: If you’re dealing with both odor and sweat, check out our best-selling sweat proof undershirts for men and women. Thompson Tee sweat proof shirts absorb underarm sweat to prevent moisture from permeating and staining your clothes. Less armpit sweat = less odor. Win!

Try an anti-odor or sweat proof undershirt risk-free today!

For more information on body odor, check out our resource page here.