Detergents that make your clothes look good, and smell good.
Most sportswear is made with synthetic polyester fibers that are moisture-resistant. While popular, this ability makes it a less breathable fabric. If you sweat, the fabric will simply trap the moisture and retains the odors.
As a consequence, smells like smoke, mildew, and sweat tend to stick to these clothes, even after washing.
To restore your garments to a fresh clean smell, a laundry detergent that tackles lingering odors may be the right remedy. These designated laundry odor removers promise to neutralize smells, rather than just cover them up.
But there are some criteria to watch out for when buying odor eliminating laundry supplies. Cheap scents can cause irritation, and lack cleaning power.
Here we’ve put together this list the best laundry detergents for odors that we researched or tried and tested.
Our Top PicksThe HouseWire earns a commission through the following independently chosen links at no additional cost to you.
1. Best Overall Laundry Detergent for Odors : OxiClean Odor Blasters Stain & Odor Remover
- Versatile: Can be used as a soak, a laundry booster or a scrub
- Smells fresh and not overpowering
- Neutralizes tough odors like urine
- Requires a lot of product to work
For odor removal, stain removal and all around fresher laundry, this OxiClean product is the holy grail. It’s gentle enough to use on any type of clothing, yet strong enough to remove smells like mildew or sweat.
Stains lead to smells too, and the OxiClean formula has been specifically designed to neutralize smells by using oxygen-based stain removers.
According to the manufacturer, food stains, grass stains, and body oil stains are visibly removed along with their smell. Even the most heavily soiled laundry can be saved using an overnight soak of OxiClean and hot water.
Bear in mind that, because it is a powder, it can be difficult to mix in with the laundry water. It’s best to add OxiClean first then let your washer fill up, to ensure the powder fully incorporates.
What Customers Say
Many positive reviews praised OxiClean’s faculty to remove both pet odors and accidents stains, with users confirming that dog beds and blankets came out of the wash scent-free. Some happy customers even used the OxiClean directly on carpet to scrub out pee stains.
Negative reviews complained that when used on synthetic materials like activewear, it didn’t hold up quite as well. The powder wasn’t able to penetrate the body odor and stains in tight woven fabric, leading to lingering smells.
For our tests, we used one of the smelliest culprits in our home: towels. Towels are used from everything to drying off the dog, to wiping up spills, so they end up stinking. We were impressed with the results. One scoop of OxiClean with a load of musty towels and that mildewy, doggy smell was definitively gone.
One downside we noticed was that you need a lot of powder for a full load of laundry. The packaging says it should do 53 loads, but we see this container lasting maybe 20 loads at most.
|Usage:||Stains and odors|
2. Best Budget Laundry Detergent for Odors : Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations In-Wash Scent Booster
- Powerful scent
- Long lasting odor elimination
- Economical: a little goes a long way
- Strong artificial scent can be irritating
- Not good for sensitive skin
- Uncertain if deodorizing or masking smells
Your favorite laundry detergent for cleaning might not always have the best scent. For extra stinky laundry, just add a capful of this scent booster to remove odors. It’s made with Arm & Hammer deodorizing baking soda to actually neutralize smells – not just cover them up.
It comes in a 37.8-ounce bottle and contains a combination of cleaning agents and fragrances that removes body odor smells from the fabric. Use this booster in all washing machines – whether standard or high-efficiency models.
For more excellent results, pair with Arm & Hammer liquid detergent or 3-in1 Power Paks.
But this product is not recommended for use around animals and children. Be aware that pets are sensitive to heavy smells – avoid using on laundry like dog beds and blankets.
What Customers Say
Top reviews raved about the long-lasting fresh scent of this laundry booster. Clothes stayed scented for weeks after being washed.
Most of the negative reviews were purely about the scent itself. Many preferred the scent of other laundry boosters compared to this one.
We tested this product with a load of wet towels, kitchen rags and a bathmat. They all had a sort of wet musty smell to them after sitting for a day or two in the hamper. When we opened the dryer the scent was warm, fragrant and clothes smelled clean.
One of the things we didn’t like was the fact that this scent booster is a powder. The powder stuck to some of the towels and we had to reach in and mix it into the water. Also, the powder is dyed purple, which didn’t feel necessary.
3. Best Budget Laundry Detergent for Sweat And Body Odors : Active Wear Laundry Detergent & Soak
- No harsh fragrances
- Plant-based enzymes won’t cause irritation
- Removes mildew and bacteria smell
- Inconvenient zip-seal packaging
- Very little instructions on packaging
Rather than artificial fragrances to cover up scents, this detergent uses plant-based enzymes to break down lingering sweat and body smells.
This powdered laundry detergent uses also a concentrated formula to obtain fantastic results. Less product generally prevents bacteria from building up in your clothes – and your machine too. You’ll be able to do up to 90 loads of laundry using 48 ounces of the product says the packaging.
If you’re someone who’s sensitive to fragrance, this detergent cleans without added scents.
It’s also free from phosphate and safe to use in both septic and regular systems. And it has been formulated with activewear in mind making it ideal for workout clothes – from yoga pants and gym clothes to jerseys.
But if you enjoy the smell of fresh laundry, this isn’t the product for you. There is no scent after washing sweaty clothes in this laundry detergent, and the product is not fragranced at all.
What Customers Say
Positive reviews praised how fast this detergent works. One load of laundry and musty odors and body odor smells are eliminated. No need to pre-soak or treat clothing.
Some negative reviews centered around the fact that this detergent was harsh on colored clothing. Brightly coloured sports tops faded in color with some users mentioning that their laundry water slightly changed color.
4. Best Laundry Detergent for Activewear Odors : HEX Performance Advanced Laundry Detergent
- Biodegradable formula
- Safe for all washing machine types and temperatures
- Will keep activewear soft and stretchy
- Chemical smelling fragrance
- Bottle sometimes leaks
Traditional laundry detergents weren’t designed for high-performance fabrics, but HEX is.
Tightly woven synthetic fibers like in yoga pants are great at trapping odors and bacteria.
HEX Performance laundry detergent cleans deep down into these clothes to definitively eliminate stubborn smells – instead of just masking them.
The special HEX molecule is designed to deep clean workout clothing and eliminate reoccurring musty smells from coming back. At the same time, its eco-friendly formula is designed to be gentle on clothes, so you can use HEX with all your laundry or temperature settings.
It doesn’t contain any dyes, perfumes, optical brighteners nor phosphates and comes in a 32-ounce bottle.
If you have all black clothing, keep in mind that this product can sometimes leave white streaks. This is more likely if you don’t mix the water with the laundry detergent before adding clothes.
What Customers Say
Happy customers complimented HEX’s ability to make their performance clothing smell better, but also look refreshed after washing.
Negative reviewers complained that the product does in fact have a fragrance – even though it is labeled “fragrance free”.
5. Best Natural Laundry Detergent for Odors : Biokleen Natural Laundry Detergent
- Long-lasting concentrated formula
- Gentle on sensitive skin
- Natural non-irritating fresh scent
- Concentrated formula leaves residue on some fabrics
- Clothes don’t feel very clean
If you’re someone who prefers clean products, this gentle natural cleaner is for you. Made from plant-derived cleaning agents and biodegradable ingredients, there’s no harsh chemicals to cause irritation. It’s dye-free, fragrance-free and cruelty-free too.
Biokleen is made with a concentrated formula, so you only need half of a cap for a full load. Using less detergent helps avoid bacteria buildup in your clothes, and is easier on your wallet.
It works in both high-efficiency washing machines and standards and the 53.5-ounces bottles will allow you to use up to 66 loads according to the brand.
One drawback is that it isn’t as tough on stubborn stains like grease and body odor. Extra smelly clothes need to be pre-soaked in order to have that really fresh smell.
What Customers Say
One positive note from reviewers was the use of natural scents. Biokleen uses citrus and grapefruit extracts—scents which won’t stink up your machine.
Some negative reviews complained that the concentrated formula sticks to clothes. Using less laundry detergent, or more water, can prevent this.
We tested Biokleen on a load of regular laundry, which included yoga pants, socks, face cloths and work clothes. After the wash cycle was complete, clothes smelled fresh, but didn’t have any trace of grapefruit scent.
Once dry, our clothes looked clean, but didn’t have that “fresh laundry’ feel. We think this detergent would have a difficult time cleaning tough odors like body odor and pet accidents.
|Weignt:||32 fl oz|
6. Best Laundry Detergent For Smoke Odors : Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator
- Pleasant fragrance
- Can be used as a laundry additive or a pre-soak
- Safe to use with other laundry products
- Expensive for a small amount of product
- Smell can be too overpowering
Febreze is known for making great odor eliminating products, and this laundry booster is no exception. This Febreze laundry additive uses a professional-strength formula that gives your laundry a boost of freshness to combat stubborn smells like body odor and smoke.
This odor eliminator is best used as a pre-soak for extra smelly clothing. Wash your clothes in hot water with your laundry detergent and let them soak before laundering.
For busy households, you can just add a capful to your regular laundry. It’s safe to use with other laundry products too – whether liquid, pods, or softeners.
This product is heavily scented, however. Those who are sensitive to smells might find it too strong. But many reviewers did mention that the smell goes away after drying.
What Customers Say
Positive reviews noted that unlike other brands of scented detergents, this product does not cause irritation.
Some negative reviews centered around the product’s cost, with a few explaining that it was very high for the amount of liquid laundry detergent they needed. Heavily soiled loads require two capfuls, and one jug is only 50 fl oz.
- Removes stains without bleach
- Safe for colors and whites
- Removes stains and odors at the same time
- Artificial “chemical” smell
- Powder is harsh on some clothes
Biz is a classic stain remover that is making its comeback. It’s tough on stains like chocolate and grease, but gentle on fabrics. This makes it a great all-around laundry detergent additive for families and households with pets.
This powder formula is color safe and can remove tough odor-causing stains on any type of clothes. For extra tough stains, you can even use Biz as a pre-soak or pre-treat. Try it on fabrics like yellowed curtains and clothes to brighten and whiten them.
What’s more, you can even use it for myriad cleaning tasks such as scrubbing kitchen counters, tiles or sinks.
This product is a powder additive, which can be harsh on some clothing. Keep this in mind if you’re washing delicates.
What Customers Say
Positive reviews appreciated how well this product gets sweat stains out from light clothes. It also completely eliminated the smell of body odor in workout clothes.
Some negative reviews disliked the “chemical” smell, which was too irritating for them to continue using.
How We Tested
We sent these odor eliminating laundry detergents to our team of testers to see if they really worked. Their first unpacked the product and read the label and ingredients to judge the composition.
Testers used these products in place of their regular detergents for washing everyday laundry like smelly workout clothes. We wanted to see how these products also held up to stains from foods and pets.
Testers evaluated the performance by noting if their clothes looked cleaner after. They asserted how easy or not the products were to use. They also formed an opinion on the scent, measuring if their clothes really smell fresher.
Finally, they evaluated if there were any negative side effects.
What To Look For In a Laundry Odor Remover
- Powder: The most well known form of detergent on this list is powder detergent, like this Branch Basics Oxygen Boost. Powder laundry detergents are widely available worldwide and are the economic choice. But beware that the sticky powder can cause buildup in your washing machine.
- Liquids/Gels: Liquid or gel detergents like OUT ProWash Workwear Odor Eliminator or the Persil proclean laundry detergent (View on Amazon), are gaining popularity in recent years. They’re more gentle on clothes than powders, and they don’t cause buildup in your machine. The downside is they are expensive, and often lack stain removing power.
- Capsules/Tablets:SLiquid capsules like these Tide Odor Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster Pacs are a relatively new option. They’re designed to help you waste less detergent by providing the perfect amount. They are easy to use, but are even more expensive than regular liquid laundry detergent.
But scent alone is not enough to have fresher smelling laundry. It’s also important for the detergent to have odor eliminating capabilities. This is so your laundry actually smells clean, and you’re not just masking the smell.
Keep in mind that some scents can cause irritation, for yourself and others around you. Scented detergents usually stick to your clothes for 2-3 weeks. This also means that there is leftover product in your clothes allowing that scent to stick.
Formula & Composition
Many odor removing laundry detergent formulas will also include enzymes. These enzymes help break down the proteins, starches, cellulose and fats in odor-causing stains. Therefore, ridding these stains and their smells from your clothing.
One downside to enzymes is that they can cause irritation. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to avoid detergents with enzyme formulas.
If you only occasionally do smelly laundry (like washing the dog bed), opt for an odor-eliminating detergent booster instead. A booster that you can add when needed is perfect for people who are sensitive to odor fighting formulas. And, this way you don’t have to change the type of detergent you use.
Why Do My Clothes Still Smell After Washing?
Believe it or not, the issue can also be the detergent itself. In an effort to fight odors, you might end up using too much detergent. This detergent sticks to your clothes and over time causes bacteria to grow.
Other common reasons for smelly laundry are that the clothes have been left in the machine too long. This causes clothes to have a wet mildew smell that will not come out unless you rewash them. Overloading the machine also causes issues with smelly clothes not getting fully cleaned.
How Can I Make My Laundry Smell Good Naturally?
Dryer sheets are a popular way to make clothes smell fresh, but they often have skin irritating ingredients. Try making a reusable dryer bag with natural products like lavender flowers. Wool dryer balls with a few drops of essential oil will help freshen up laundry as well.
One inexpensive and simple trick is to spritz a paper towel with essential oil or perfume. Throw it into your dryer with a load of laundry for lightly scented clothes.
Laundry Detergent for Odors Comparison Chart
|Product||Bottle Information||Cleaning Performance||Scent||Overall Rating|
|OxiClean Odor Blasters||4/5||4/5||4/5|
|Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations||5/5||3/5||4/5|
|Active Wear Detergent & Soak||3/5||4/5||5/5|
|Febreze Odor Eliminator||5/5||5/5||4/5|
|Febreze Odor Eliminator||5/5||5/5||3/5|