Laundry question about body odor

socksNovember 20, 2005

It seems some cotton things, like woven shirts and pillow cases, just hang onto the body odor even after being washed. I find scrubbing with a Fels Naptha bar helps a lot, but it's a bit labor intensive. What would help? Borax? Biz? Vinegar?

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It's possible sometimes there is still detergent left in the garment that is holding the soap. I find using the "second rinse" cycle on my wash machine is really helpful, and I'm still just using Tide, not some fancy organic brand.

Not sure about vinegar -- something about the chemistry of acids and alkalis -- but how about soaking them for a bit in a mixture of baking soda and water?

If worse comes to worse maybe the cleaners can do something.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2005 at 5:38PM
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I'm a laundromaniac visiting from the Laundry Room forum.

Here's what I've gleaned over the years:

-- Borax can definitely help remove odors. Clothes can be soaked in this additive, or it can be included in the wash cycle with detergent.

-- HOT water is more effective at removing odors than warm or cold water. I used to be a heavy user of cold washes, but like the cleaning results so much better now that I put colorfast cottons into the HOTTEST wash I can get, regardless of what the garment care tag says. Item washed in HOT get cleaner, visually and smell-wise. I've learned from the Laundry Room folks that hot water generally doesn't cause shrinkage -- rather, hot dryer settings do.

-- When it comes to items with oily odors -- for me, this means pillowcases in contact with hair -- I use a liquid detergent. Liquids generally are better than powders for oily soils. For everything else, including perspiration odors, I use powders.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2005 at 3:48PM
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A friend of my daughter's borrowed her bustier (so you know it is a delicate laundry wise) and has a very bad body odor problem. I have tried liquid tide, febreze, soaking it in liquid tide, washing it in it after doing both that and sprayed febreze on it. The smell seems gone until it is dry and being worn. Then the body heat of my daughter brings the odor back. It is not my daughter's body odor, we are sure of that. This friend has borrowed other clothes of hers that were cottons and after many many washings and soakings I was able to get the odor out but that was with using hot water. Can't do that on a bustier. Any suggestions. Don't want to see $50 go down the drain because of an odor. It is almost new.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2006 at 11:56PM
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I don't know if this would work or not, but you could try soaking it in Oxyclean. It's often mentioned here, and I've tried soaking with it recently with good results.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 9:28AM
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Is oxyclean safe for delicates and how long do you recommend I soak it? Thank you for your response, by the way.


    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 12:51PM
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Oxyclean is perfect for simple soaking. One of the suggested uses is to rewhiten antique lace tablecloths. What it is is a dry powder that releases hydrogen peroxide when wet. That's all it is is a portable, inexpensive source for lots of H2O2. The extra oxygen is released into the water and "burns up" and releases the oils and/or bacteria causing stains and odors. I sweat at night and my pillow becomes stained. There is an odor but not one that drives people out of the house. Anyway, the oxygen cleaner takes that stain out. I used to collect t-shirts when I visited places. All those now have (or had) yellow stains on them. The Oxyclean took those stains out, too.

For something as small as a bustier, I would put a teaspoon of dry oxygen cleaner (there are other brands besides Oxyclean) into a half a sink of the hottest water you have. Then if you think the garment will be harmed by hot water, let the water cool some, but it needs to be hot at first to release the peroxide. Then I would soak for 8 hours, but I soak everything for 8 hours (over night) just to be sure. Then wash as you would normally.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 1:49PM
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Dchall you have more experience with this product than I so thanks for your input.

My can of Oxyclean says soak 1 to 6 hours, and hot or warm water is best. It also says test in an inconspicuous place. Is there an inconspicuous place in a bustier? LOL!

Anyway, you could try dissolving the powder in a little hot water and then after dissolved add cold water until it is cool enough for the bustier.

Next time you are at the grocery store, take a look at the label and see if you feel comfortable trying this. I'd feel terrible if it damaged the clothing.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2006 at 3:38PM
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Keep in mind that vinegar acts both as a rinsing agent to remove detergent/soap and as a deodorizer. Using a 1/2 cup in a full washer load's rinse cycle is usually sufficient remove the detergent or soap.

Also, for cottons that have perspiration stains, wet the area and then repeatedly pour vinegar through the material, followed by washing. Most of the time, that will remove the stain; for really tough [old] sweat stains, soak overnight in a gallon of hot water that had 3 tablespoons of dishwashing detergent and 2 tablespoons of bleach added (no bleach if it's a cotton blend); then wash and rinse thoroughly.

The "inconspicuous place" on a bustier or other garment is usually considered to be the material that is on the inside of the hem, or any fabric that is not seen while wearing the garment, such as along the side-seam. One uses a swab to dab the area with the solution, being careful to wet any fabric seen from the outside.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 7:30AM
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I use rubbing alchohol on the underarm area of tee-shirts to get out the odor. I spray it on and let it sit for a couple of minutes. I learned of this from a newspaper article. This has worked. I was unable to get the odor completely out. I would especially notice it when I ironed the shirts after I washed them. It has something to do about bacteria. I haven't had a problem since!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 3:36PM
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I tried adding baking soda and detergent direct on the underarm of the shirt and washed in warm water. The shirt came out fresh. Couldn't believe it!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 12:30PM
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