How To Remove Perfume Smell From Clothes

  • By: Nathan Cherry
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Spraying perfume on clothes is one of the best ways to have your perfume last. Perfume lingers on fabric much longer than it does on skin, giving you a much more powerful fragrance experience. 

However, sometimes that experience can last too long. And the scent of old perfume on your clothes, mingled with your sweat and BO, ain’t exactly the smell-goodiest thing in the world. Sometimes, that uber-powerful new perfume you just bought might even survive a normal wash cycle. 

So how do you remove the smell of perfume from your clothes? 

There are several different methods for removing the smell of perfume from clothes. Hanging your clothes outdoors, adding vinegar or lemon juice into the wash, hand washing with Castile soap, or using scent deodorizers like baking soda are all great ways to get rid of stubborn scents. 

Let’s take a look at some ways to eliminate even the most tenacious of scents from your clothes. 

Hanging Your Clothes Outdoors

For those looking to keep things au naturale, opt for this easy fix to your pesky perfume problem. This is also a great option for dry clean only garments. 

Simply hang the perfumed garment outside for a few hours or overnight. The fresh, circulating air will gradually remove the odorants from your clothes, and UV rays from the sun can also help eliminate the lingering scent. 

Just be aware that if you want to retrieve your clothes the following morning, you’ll have dew to consider. If your clothes don’t have enough time to dry after getting dewy, you might have another problem on your hands: mildew. 

Vinegar Wash

As unappealing as it might sound to put vinegar in your washing machine, it’s actually a rather effective method for removing pesky odors (perfume or otherwise) from your clothes and other household items. 

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, of course. We all know that vinegar is the undisputed MVP of natural, homegrown cleaning and deodorizing solutions. A few drops of vinegar could take the stink off a skunk, I tell ya what. 

You can do a wash cycle with vinegar either starting from the beginning, or by adding in the vinegar in the rinsing stage. 

To do a vinegar wash from the beginning of the wash cycle: 

  1. Add around one cup of white vinegar to your washing machine before starting the wash cycle, pouring directly on clothes. 
  2. Run the wash cycle as normal. Hot or cold water works fine. 
  3. Rinse until the smell of the perfume and the vinegar is gone, around 1-3 times. 

To do a vinegar wash starting from the middle of the wash cycle: 

  1. Put your load of clothes in and run the wash cycle as normal. Again, hot or cold water works fine, depending on the clothes you’re washing. 
  2. Mid-way through the cycle, add one cup of white vinegar to your washing machine. 
  3. Complete the wash cycle, and rinse until the smell of perfume and the vinegar is gone, 1-3 times. 

You can choose to use detergent in conjunction with the vinegar, or you can use vinegar as the detergent. It’s completely up to you. 

And don’t fret. So long as you rinse a few times and dry well, there will be no lingering vinegary smell on your clothes, and the scent of perfume will be gone. 

Lemon Juice Pre-Wash

Lemon is another powerful homegrown odor-fighting solution, well known for its ability to cut through stinky smells like a knife. 

Using lemon juice on your perfume-affected garment can be an effective (and natural) way to neutralize the smell of perfume prior to washing. It’ll ensure that the odor is eliminated (or as close as you can get to being eliminated) before your clothes ever go into the washing machine. 

It’s best to use the lemon juice pre-wash method on light-colored clothes. Using this technique on dark colored clothes might cause discoloration. 

To do a lemon juice pre-wash: 

  1. Blend one cup of lemon juice and one cup of water in a clean, empty spray bottle. 
  2. Spray on the affected garment, focusing on the areas where the scent is most prevalent. 
  3. Hang dry for thirty to forty minutes, preferably in direct sunlight. 
  4. Put the garment through the wash and dry cycle as usual. 
  5. If the smell of perfume persists, repeat the process until it has been deodorized. 

Handwashing With Soap

Sometimes, the best way to get rid of a pesky smell is to just do it the old fashioned way: with your hands and a big fat bar of soap. It worked for centuries before the advent of the washing machine, and it still works to this day. 

You can use just about any white bar soap, like Dove, or use a nice, natural Castile soap. 

To hand wash with soap: 

  1. Gently scrub the perfumed area with some white bar soap, or use a few drops of neutral liquid soap. You can use a soft brush if you have a particularly persistent perfume on your hands. 
  2. Rinse with warm water. 
  3. Repeat as necessary. 

Use a Natural Deodorizer

If you’re dealing with a dry clean only garment, this will be the best way to go. Of course, you can’t hand wash things like a suit jacket, and you definitely shouldn’t put it in the wash. But what if you don’t have any time to take your clothes to the cleaners? 

Never fear. There are a number of different, natural methods for deodorizing your dry clean only clothes. 

For starters, try hanging your clothes outdoors, if possible. 

But another great way is to use another member of the homegrown household cleaning solution royal family: baking soda. 

Scatter some baking soda in a bag, box, or dresser drawer – anywhere that can be closed. Then place some material on top of it, such as newspaper or paper towels. Place your garment into the enclosed space, and let sit for two to three days. The baking soda will naturally absorb the smell. 

The same method can be used with coffee beans, another natural absorbent. 

Leaving a small bowl of charcoal briquettes in your closet or dresser drawer is a great way of absorbing lingering odors. Like baking soda and coffee beans, charcoal is another naturally absorbent substance. Best of all, you’ll be able to use the charcoal for your BBQ afterwards – using the charcoal to absorb scent has no effect. 

The Final Word

Spraying perfume on clothes is one of the best ways to wear fragrance, and I still highly recommend that you do it. 

However, from time to time, you get a perfume that is just too strong and won’t go away. That’s not a pleasant experience for anyone, and it’s worse if it’s stuck to your clothes and won’t get off. 

Luckily, there are many ways to get perfume out of your clothes. From vinegar or lemon juice washes, to hand washing with soap, to hanging your clothes outside or using natural deodorizers like charcoal or baking soda, there’s no shortage of easy, natural ways to remove odors from your clothes.