Home remedies for household cleaning: How to do smelly laundry with things like baking soda, coke, and vinegar

Household cleaning tips: How to do smelly laundry

From dirty gym clothes to soured dishrags, laundry smells are an unpleasant part of life. There are many commercial preparations on the market, but these can be costly. Not only are they expensive at the register, but they may also have a high price for our environment. There are other simple methods for ridding laundry of foul odors. These methods are economical, effective, and environmentally friendly. They use a variety of easily available household items. However, as always, it is wise to try a small test area before applying any chemical to a more visible spot.

Distilled White Vinegar

How to do smelly laundry with things like baking soda, coke, and vinegar

In most cases, vinegar is the first line of defense against laundry odors. For most fabrics and mild odors, the addition of a cup of white vinegar to the wash will solve the problem. The vinegar eliminates the smell, and does not leave even the faintest whiff of vinegar’s pungent odor behind. Warm or hot water is best, but is not necessary in most cases. So, if fabric is designed to be washed in cold water, that should be fine.
If the smell is severe, place the fabric in the washing machine’s tub and add just enough water to cover it. Next, add detergent and a cup of distilled white vinegar. Start the washer’s cycle and allow it to agitate for several minutes. Then, stop it and let it to sit for approximately thirty minutes and then restart the washer. If the odor is not completely eliminated, repeat the treatment.

Baking Soda

For more delicate washable fabrics there is another treatment. Simply dampen the fabric and place in indirect sunlight. Sprinkle the fabric with baking soda and allow it to dry. After it has dried, shake off the baking soda and launder as usual.

Also, half a cup of baking soda can be added to the washing machine with regular detergent to help with mild odors. This treatment can also benefit from allowing the contents to soak after agitation.

Unflavored Mouthwash

Clear unflavored mouthwash can be used to spot treat specific odors. Perspiration odors are bacteria based and the mouthwash is designed to kill bacteria. It can be sprayed into the neck and underarm areas of a garment. Listerine and Dr. Titchner’s are good choices for this treatment.


Half a cup of sudsing ammonia can be added to the wash of most non-delicate fabrics. It also helps with stubborn stains and leaves no smell behind.

Alternately, clothing can be soaked overnight in a mixture of one cup ammonia per one gallon of warm water. The addition of one-tablespoon liquid dish soap per gallon of water makes this a smelly but effective remedy.

Coca Cola

Adding a cup of Coke to a load of laundry helps breakdown petroleum based products, thus eliminating the smell of gas, diesel, and motor oils. For severe petroleum stains up to 2 liters of Coke can be added.


Toothpaste can be rubbed into shirt collars and underarms to help combat perspiration odors, but care must be taken to ensure there is no bleaching action.

Prevention is the Best Cure

Naturally, the best way to deal with laundry smells is to prevent them. Washing items quickly, before they have a chance to mildew and drying laundry loads before they have a chance to sour can make life and the laundry room smell much more pleasant. If necessary, baking soda can be sprinkled in the bottom of laundry baskets to absorb odors before they become a problem.

In Summary

These odor eliminating home remedies are in most cases as effective as their pricey manufactured counterparts. Since most families have at least one of the items on hand, they are quite convenient. So, with the knowledge that it is safe for the environment, even the worst laundry can be treated. This is of course terrific news for gym teachers everywhere!

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