How to Get Body Odor Smell Out of Clothes

Nannette Richford

Healthy bodies produce sweat in reaction to exercise, a rise in temperature, or stress and anxiety. Sweating regulates body temperature and maintains a balance of fluids and chemicals, such as sodium and calcium.

Woman checking her shirt for body odor.

Sweat itself is odorless, but when it is broken down by bacteria, odor arises giving off the characteristic scent of body odor. Unfortunately, the scent can get trapped in delicate fabrics and reappear with a vengeance when the article of clothing is worn again. Removing the odor during laundering is key to keeping your garments smelling fresh and odor free.


Bleach can also be used to remove body odor smell, but only if the garment is white.


Do not put clothes in the dryer if perspiration odor is present, as heat sets the odor and makes it difficult to remove.

  1. Pretreat garment with an enzyme-based product soak or scrub the underarm area with laundry detergent. Launder as usual.

  2. Place the article of clothing in a bucket of warm water and salt if odors persist after laundering. Mix 3/4 tsp. of salt to each quart of water. Allow the garment to soak overnight. Rinse it in clear water and dry as usual.

  3. Spray white vinegar or vodka on the effected underarm area and allow it to dry to remove perspiration odors. This method may remove odors quickly, even if you do not have time to launder the fabric, making it a quick fix when you discover laundered clothes that retain perspiration odor.