Ever wash your clothes, only to wonder why they STILL don’t smell fresh?
Whether it’s that awful musty smell from leaving them in the washer for days, or just all the scents that go along with daily life, stinky laundry is quite a drag!
After all, you wash them so they smell better, right?
If you’re wondering how to make your laundry smell good (and keep it smelling fresh for longer), check out these amazing-smelling laundry secrets!
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How to Make Your Laundry Smell Good
Remove existing odors
One of the secrets to great smelling laundry is getting rid of the bad odors first.
Here are some of the best ways to make your laundry smell better NATURALLY!
Tackle musty smells
If you left your laundry in the washer for far too long (we’ve all done it!), it’ll most likely still smell musty and stinky after you dry it.
If you have a problem with your clothes not smelling fresh after drying, try this!
Here’s the trick:
- Fill your washing machine with the hottest water your clothes will tolerate
- Add 1 cup of vinegar to water
- Let your clothes (or towels) soak in there for 10 minutes
- Rewash your load as usual with detergent, adding 1 cup of baking soda
- If you wish, use good smelling fabric softener to add scent
Quick Tip: If you know in advance that you won’t be able to quickly move your clothes into the dryer after washing, add a few drops of lavender essential oil. (It has anti-mold properties that will prevent the musty smell.)
Don’t worry, your laundry won’t smell like vinegar or lavender!
Pretreat smelly stains
Maybe your clothing odor is coming from a particular stain (such as one you received while changing a dirty diaper).
In that case, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with a little water, just until a paste forms. Apply this paste to the offending stain to spot treat.
Let it sit for 10 minutes before running the washing machine.
Quick Tip: For especially smelly clothes, don’t put them in your hamper to mix in with other clothing. Just wash them immediately, or as soon as possible!
Use odor eliminating products
If you’re less concerned with using only natural methods, try these odor eliminating products in the washer as your stinky laundry solution.
Odor eliminating detergents & boosters:
- Tide Odor Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster
- Laundry Odor Eliminator by Febreze
- Zero Odor
- Funkaway Laundry Booster
- OxiClean Odor Blasters & Stain Remover
- Win Sports Detergent(for sweaty workout or sports clothing)
- OUT Prowash Workwear Eliminator (for smelly clothes from work)
- Fresh Wave Odor Removing Laundry Booster
- Downy Sports Defense Scent Beads
Now that you’ve removed any bad odors from your clothes, you can add good smells to your laundry!
Make your laundry smell amazing
Make your clothes smell like laundry detergent
If you want your clothes to always have that ‘just washed’ scent, try a strong smelling detergent.
Some of the best and strongest smelling laundry detergents are:
- Gain Flings with Aroma Burst
- Tide Classic Original Scent
- Method Fresh Air (naturally derived and cruelty free!)
- Tide PureClean Honey Lavender
- Arm & Hammer Clean Burst
Use a great smelling fabric softener
In addition to a nice smelling detergent, adding a scented fabric softener strengthens the good scent, reduces static and can make your laundry feel softer against your skin.
Some of the best smelling fabric softeners are:
- Snuggle Plus Super Fresh (has the added benefit of helping remove bad odors)
- Bounce Dryer Sheets
- Downy Ultra Pouches
- Downy Infusions
- Mrs. Meyers Clean Day
Use an in-wash scent booster
It’s just a way to add another layer of good smells to your laundry.
I highly recommend them if you want to keep your clothes smelling like fabric softener.
If you prefer more natural and frugal ways to make your laundry smell good, here’s how to DIY your fabric softener!
Make your own dryer sheets
DIY Dryer Sheets
- Cut a small piece of cotton from a t-shirt or sheet
- Wet it and add drop 5-10 drops of essential oil (such as lavender or eucalyptus)
- Place in the dryer with your load for the last 10 minutes of dry time
- Reuse over and over!
Important Note: When using essential oils in the dryer, the possibility for fire exists. Please do your own research if you plan to use essential oils in the dryer.
If you’re concerned, make the DIY fabric softener below, and soak your homemade dryer sheets in that solution instead of using oils.
DIY Liquid Fabric Softener
In a jar or similar container, combine:
- 6 cups water
- 3 cups vinegar
- 2 cups good-smelling hair conditioner
Add ¼ cup to your washing machine for each load
Or if you have hard water:
- Combine 1 cup baking soda and 2 cups hot water (until baking soda is just moistened)
- Slowly add in 1 cup white vinegar
- Add essential oils if desired
Add ¼ cup to your washing machine for each load
DIY Scented Crystals
In a small container, add:
- 2 cups of epsom salt (or coarse sea salt)
- 20-30 drops essential oils (stir well!)
Add 2-3 tablespoons to the rinse cycle of your laundry load
Now that we’ve looked at a bunch of things to make your laundry smell good, let’s check out some tips to KEEP your clothes smelling amazing.
Keep clothes smelling good
- Use scented sachets in your drawers and closets. They’re also a natural deodorizer!
- Keep a humidity remover (or open box of baking soda) in your closet
- Don’t throw wet clothes in your hamper. Let them air dry first!
- Spray your clothes with a fabric refresher (or make your own spray with essential oils).
- Don’t leave your clothes in a pile if you’re planning to rewear them. Hang up so they can air out.
- Keep your house smelling good, or your clothes will pick up the odors.
How to make clothes smell good fast: If you don’t have time to wash (but want to freshen) your clothes, toss them in the dryer with a fabric softener sheet (like Gain) for 5 minutes.
A big part of making your laundry smell good is to make sure your washing machine itself doesn’t stink.
Here are some tips for keeping it odor free!
Get rid of washing machine smells
- Use less detergent and fabric softener in HE (high efficiency) machines. Because less water is used in these machines, excess detergent and softener cling to the inside, leading to that awful musty smell. (Remember that detergent is concentrated, so you don’t need as much as you might think!)
- Leave the washing machine door open after running a load until the inside is dry. You don’t want to trap moisture. That always leads to bad odors.
- Use OxiClean Washing Machine Cleaner with Odor Blasters monthly to thoroughly clean your washing machine and blast that stink away.
As a bonus, here are some extra tricks to make your laundry smell good and go smoothly!
Handy dandy laundry tricks
- Launder your towels separately from clothing to prevent musty smells. It also helps you avoid getting lint all over your clothes.
- Don’t overfill the washer with a super-huge load. It’s better to do 2 loads so things can rinse properly.
- Put water and detergent in first, before adding clothes.
- Remove clothing from the washer and dryer quickly after load is done. I like to use a timer to remind myself to go change the load, or finish the job.
- Use dryer balls to dry your clothes faster. It saves on your utility bill, and softens your laundry.
- Make sure your clothes are completely dry before putting them away. If they are even a little bit damp, put them back in the dryer til completely dry.
Go forth, and smell delightful
I hope these tips for how to make your laundry smell good will really help you in your laundry-doing endeavors going forward.
These stinky laundry solutions are actually super easy to do, and work whether you like scented products or doing things the natural way.
Keeping your clothes smelling fresh is actually pretty easy when you adjust how you do the laundry a bit.
Cheers to amazing smelling laundry!